Online giving and digital fundraising

Digital fundraising opens up opportunities to grow your church’s giving, by making it easier for both the congregation and wider community to support your church.

You do not need to be a computer expert to be able to fundraise digitally, but like all types of fundraising, you need to be able to commit time.

Here are some ideas to encourage online giving:

Make it easy for your congregation to give online

Direct Debit

Direct Debit is a simple way your congregation can continue to give to your church, even if buildings are closed or the church isn’t running as usual. This automatic payment method means payments are protected, and administration requirements are low. Anglican churches also benefit from the Parish Giving Scheme, which helps with the administration and Gift Aid.

Online giving platforms

As well as encouraging Direct Debits, your church can set up an online giving platform that allows you to collect donations.

There are many online giving platforms available with different approaches on offer. A comprehensive guide to encouraging online giving has been produced on the Church of England’s Parish Resources website.

For Anglican churches without a strong online presence, a good starting point is A Church Near You. This website offers the option of adding a donate button to your church’s website, as well as a customisable video that promotes online giving to your website visitors.

A small list of online giving platforms is shown below. This list is not exhaustive, so please do your research to find the right platform for your church and its needs. Note that some platforms charge monthly fees, while others charge transaction fees for each donation. These platforms include:

Once your church has set up an online giving platform, you will need to promote it! Encourage your congregation and community to use it to give to your church online:

  • Make online giving part of your church’s ‘digital liturgy’ to remind people to give, with a regular form of words or, if you can, several forms of words to create a variety of messages.
  • Make the link to your chosen platform very visible and prominent on your church’s website.
  • Make sure your church clearly communicates its need for funds.
  • Tell stories about the impact your church has and the difference people’s giving will make.
  • Offer help to those who are not as confident online. Perhaps someone in your church can act as your online giving champion and offer support by phone for people who need help navigating online giving.
  • Encourage people to give a monthly donation if they can. Monthly donations are 12 times more valuable than annual donations!

Consider Crowdfunding

Rather than having one major investor, charitable projects use crowdfunding to harness the power of the crowd to get lots of small gifts, usually via the internet. An individual project or appeal is known as a crowdfunder. It differs from regular congregational online giving, as it is usually targeted at a wider group of people from outside your church and is used to raise funds for a specific project. Many of the platforms you can use are the same as those you might use for congregational giving.

To crowdfund successfully and engage people outside your usual congregation, ensure that you are:

  • Raising funds for a specific, tangible project, such as buying new furniture for the church hall.
  • Benefitting the whole community
    • for example, the new furniture that will be purchased as a result of the fundraising will provide better facilities for everyone
  • Able to give confidence that you will achieve your ambitions, for example, you have already raised some of the money needed.

Once you have identified the project you want to crowdfund and set up your platform for donations, you will need to promote it. Crowdfunding is about spreading the word as widely and quickly as possible, instead of drip-feeding over longer periods of time. To get the message out fast and wide, work hard to promote the crowdfunder for a short period of time (i.e. two weeks). Use all routes possible to publish your crowdfunder such as parish newsletters, local press, Facebook, email and encouraging your church network to share the details.

Use social media to fundraise

Social media can be utilised in several ways for your fundraising. You can either raise money directly on social media or use it to spread the message about your other fundraising.  You may remember that in Engaging with your wider community,  social media was highlighted as a powerful tool for fundraising engagement.

To make sure you are getting the most out of social media fundraising, consider the following:

  • Pick one or two platforms and use them well, instead of spreading yourself across multiple social media platforms.
  • Think about your audience and create and share interesting content for them regularly.
  • Always include ‘calls to action’, which encourage people to do something to support your church. ‘Like our page’ or ‘Donate below’ are examples of calls to action. Some social media sites, such as Facebook, have a donate button you can use to collect donations directly for your church.
    • Teach church members how to share your content widely. This is key to spreading your message (and therefore your fundraising) further than your congregation and out to your wider communities.
  • Keep at it! As with all successful fundraising, online fundraising is about building strong relationships that take time. So have patience – over time, your work and dedication will pay off.
  • Consider affiliate fundraising where people can support your church through their everyday online shopping purchases, at no extra cost, such as EasyFundraising.
  • Do your research, there are lots of resources and support available online to help you get the most out of social media.