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Choosing An Online Giving Solution For Your Church Website (Part 1)

Choosing an online giving solution for your church website should be pretty painless, right?

Well, as I’ve been researching the idea of proposing online giving to my church, I’ve discovered there’s a lot to consider. I didn’t want to rush blindly into adding a donation page to my church’s website. It seemed prudent to first examine what our priorities for adding online giving should be.

That exercise led me to explore why making spiritually-profitable donation pages is crucial, especially for the benefit of believing givers. Then, I looked at 14 ideas and examples of great church donation page content that can encourage gracious giving.

Now I’m ready to turn my attention to learning what online giving solutions are available for churches. I had assumed there would only be a few options specifically made for churches. Boy, was I wrong! A quick Google search revealed an overwhelming number of church-focused providers and services. Pages and pages of them, in fact.

With so many options, I really didn’t know where to begin. Then, as I poured over feature pages, pricing structures, and delivery methods, I realized that narrowing my focus to find the right option for my church website was actually easier than I first thought.

Turns out, online giving solutions appear to come in one of five flavors:

  1. Client-installed computer software
  2. Software as a Service (or SaaS) Providers
  3. Web Content Management System Add-ons
  4. Church CMS Service Providers
  5. Church Management Software Options

The goal of this post is not to review or recommend individual options or service providers. Rather, I mean to present an overview of what you can expect as you begin your own research to find the best online giving solution for your church website.

Online Giving Solutions For Churches

Client-installed computer software

Some online giving solutions are packaged and delivered as computer software programs. The software may be packaged as digital files available for download to a client’s computer. Some are only available as boxed CDs. In either case, your computer will need to meet minimum system requirements in order for the software to be installed and properly run.

Examples of client-installed computer software include the following:

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Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Providers

With this category of software, service providers host the software application and deliver it to customers over a network or the Internet. Automatic updates, easy administration, and global accessibility are just a few of the benefits associated with this software distribution model. Web-based options for online giving range from general purpose payment tools to feature-rich, ministry-focused applications.

Examples of SaaS providers include:

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Web Content Management System Add-ons

Web content management systems (CMS) allow users with little knowledge of web programming or mark-up languages to easily create and manage website content.  Content management systems enable you to easily extend the features of your website by installing free or premium (paid) add-on software programs. Depending on the CMS, these add-on software programs may be called plugins or extensions, or may be known by other names.

Examples of content management systems that offer donation page add-on software include:

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Church CMS Service Providers

Church CMS service providers specialize in offering feature-rich, hosted website design and maintenance solutions that meet the unique needs of churches and ministries. Many of these ministry-focused service providers either bundle online giving features into the core functionality of their CMS, or offer an online giving solution as a separate add-on option.

Examples of church CMS providers who offer online giving solutions include:

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Church Management Software Options

Churches use church management software to help them organize and automate many of their day-to-day operations. These specialized software programs enable churches to more easily manage such tasks as event planning, accounting and report generation, and volunteer management.

Some church management software programs include an online giving component that can be easily integrated into your church website. Examples include:

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What’s next?

My church uses Church Community Builder to help us get things done. Our website is powered by WordPress. So, that’s where I’ll begin my review and service comparison.

Choosing an online giving solution is not as difficult as you might think. In my next post, I’ll include a list of resources to make reviewing and narrowing down your options that much easier.

Image Credit: zhouxuan 12345678 | Flickr cc

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