We are often asked about using PayPal or other ecommerce solutions for Kingdom giving. Most of our existing ministry clients come to us with an ecommerce button on their sites (usually PayPal). We do have a response on our FAQ page regarding this as well.
Here is our view. In 2002 we began to help our clients with online giving. Our primary focus had been the electronic monthly partner for para-church organizations, but the “back-ends” in the electronic payment world are similar. Ecommerce solutions were already tried and true for their security and had been mostly bug proof by then. We turned to Auth.net and PayPal for solutions so we did not have to re-invent the wheel
As a baby boomer and committed Kingdom founder, I found the ecommerce User Interface irritating. The Shopping Cart experience wore me down. Knowing baby boomers have all the money raised my concerns. I also found most solutions did not include ACH (for direct payments from a giver’s bank account), and those that did charged a percentage.
In addition, the most significant reason we reluctantly started development of “conducive” giving pages that would comfort a Kingdom giver was the “materialistic” feel of those commercial payment gateways. It felt like you were taking your tithe to Wells Fargo bank. I was going from being led by the Spirit to give to having to get my gift “dirty” by sending it through Babylon. I know… weird. But hundreds of ministry leaders have concurred with me, so I know that I am not alone.
We did our own “click through” studies and watched the gift die at the PayPal button. Now that was 12 years ago, and one wonders if it is easier now to give over an ecommerce solution. I think so. Somewhat. Yet we have international clients with PayPal buttons available (for the European credit card), but they rarely see it being used, while thousands of dollars come in on their eGiving giving page.
In God’s economy there are realities which we address with the giving page. We strive to make the giving page blend in with the ministry’s website, so the template artwork on the page is similar, and we include a picture of the ministry’s leader. We also include on the giving page a message from the leader (a statement of blessing and direction) along with the ministry leader’s signature. We like to include a statement on the giving page emphasizing the value of givers donating through their checking accounts (to minimize the fees ministries have to pay). We’ve found that clearly spelling out the gift’s purpose on the giving page is very comforting and effective for prospective donors. Because the Holy Spirit is guiding the giving, we acknowledge “where two or more are gathered” which adds to a continuity in Spirit for the act of giving.
Thus it is important to not to let your tech people “lead” out in recommending or building a giver interface for your ministry. Their background will likely be ecommerce. Older leaders often allow their techs to lead, because the web world is too mysterious. If you do that, make sure you come back and walk through the User Interface yourself… like a giver would. Test it… make sure you love it. You are the litmus tester, so don’t shrink from that duty. Baby boomers have the most money to give into the Kingdom right now.
Recently, at a pregnancy center convention, I had a Director come up to me and state “we don’t need eGiving.” “Are you sure?” I said. “Yes, we have PayPal now, and no one likes to give to us online, so there is no need for what you have.” “Oh boy”, I thought. One bad idea to the next. So instead of arguing (See? It pays to raise kids) I asked her how her electronic monthly partner program was going, and she wanted to know what that was. We were able to rescue that ministry and get them straightened out right away.
Kingdom tools for Kingdom giving are best. We would have gladly passed on building them if we could have.