It is the beginning of the calendar year, and congregations and institutions across the country are re-embracing budget, finance, and fundraising goals. There is a tendency to identify resolutions that require new habits and new choices, with the hope of fostering a different impact or reaching new goals. As we continually pursue a culture that is generous and foster tools that maximize consistent giving, we can also build intentional efforts to retain the spirituality of offering time while leveraging the efficiency and effectiveness of electronic giving tools.
For years I have spent time teaching people about the role of consistency in generosity. Within training seminars, I would typically talk about the transition that has taken place regarding how often we are physically in the pew and demonstrate how decreased attendance could easily lead to decreased giving. From a fundraising perspective, it has been a fairly easy concept for people to learn. Those who give electronically benefit from the structure that technology offers and our institutions benefit from the consistency of giving. Yet, we still must remember the sacred nature of the giving moment within our faith traditions.
Just a few Sundays ago, when the call for the offering began, I pulled out my phone and clicked an app. I watched as my son pulled out his phone for the same purpose. Just a few years ago, this behavior would have been foreign. After years of being trained and training my children to guard against distractions in service, technology has become second nature. I actively use my Bible App, take notes on my phone, upon occasion tweet passages and sermon points, and I often give electronically too. As a consultant who teaches best practices, it hasn’t been lost on me, that the times are continuously changing.
Embracing technology requires thoughtful integration into our worship habits. Giving tools, along with the Wi-Fi speed and wireless connection quality within faith institutions, should be tested and monitored often. It is prudent to both provide diverse methods of giving and actively train our members how to use the tools that have been provided. Beyond the tools we use to give, it is also critical to integrate electronic givers in the offering language, expressions of gratitude and the execution of the giving practices that we use.
Unlike the timed gifts that individuals are able to schedule through their banking institutions, I have celebrated the spontaneity inherent in being able to give efficiently and generously with an app during service. In addition to consistency, electronic giving has grown to make spontaneous giving possible as well. Throughout the nation, peers and colleagues use giving functions featured on their church website, and other congregations have tailored apps and giving kiosks on site.
With every modernized giving tool and emerging practices in giving, we must be careful to remember the sanctity of the giving experience. In efforts to reinforce consistency in giving, we want to avoid tithes, offering, or mission gifts being seen in the same light as utility bills. Another commandment might include, thou shall remember that giving is a sacred and spiritual practice that should allow the giver to mimic and demonstrate God’s love, both in and out of worship services.
Consider the following practices as you plan for this new year:
1) Leverage technology in giving to reinforce consistency.
2) Teach and train on the topic of consistency in giving, as well as designing worship services that build in time to explain and demonstrate giving alternatives.
3) Test all giving platforms bi-monthly, and evaluate the technology infrastructure necessary to use them effectively.
4) Review how giving tools translate to different platforms of phone and tablet screens.
5) Remember diverse giving styles in offertory language and practices.
6) Provide cards, coins or tangible participation tools for electronic givers to use in worship.
7) Integrate and leverage technology habits that reinforce the desired worship culture.
If we understand the spirituality of fundraising, we recognize the practice of giving to be an essential aspect of our theology. What we believe above giving and money, shapes our practices and the ways we live out our faith. Likewise, we are called to understand and integrate modern day tools that allow individuals to actualize what they believe. In recognizing the benefits of consistent giving, we are also called to reclaim the tools we use, so that we intentional make technology a more sacred component of how we worship. Electronic giving and offering practices can foster new habits when we embrace technology for sacred purposes.