One of the challenges about maintaining a church budget is the fact that it’s always in flux. You simply can’t predict how it’s going to look year to year. Which means that you end up forecasting next year’s budget knowing that your income will fluctuate. And you have to factor in information specific to your congregation, like how donations will likely drop off in the summer and then be much higher in November and December.
While it’s nice that most churches experience that boost to end-of-year giving, it can be disastrous when you realize that fourth-quarter giving isn’t going to make up the ground you lost the rest of the year—and it’s too late to do anything about it.
But what if there was a way to better stabilize your church income? There just might be, and recurring giving is the key.
What is recurring giving?
Digital giving can be very similar to typical offerings. Someone could log into your mobile app or online giving form and make a one-time donation. If they want to give next week, they’d have to do it all over again.
Recurring giving allows them to sign up to give an automatic donation every month. This predetermined amount is transferred from their account into yours. They don’t have to remember to do it, and you don’t have to ask for it.
How recurring giving helps everyone
As more people sign up for recurring giving, you develop a clearer picture of your income based on funds that come in consistently.
Under the old model of giving, a lot of families go on vacation or miss a week here and there, and if they neglect to send in their offering, they might not give extra later to make up for the loss.
And even when they do give extra to make up for missed giving, the church has to forecast month to month based on sporadic and precarious giving. But when recurring giving is adopted widely, churches don’t have to cinch their belt in the summer months when attendance (and giving) drops off and hope to make it all up in December.
How recurring giving helps your members
When church members’ giving recurs naturally, they tend to give more over time. They don’t forget or fall behind, and they’re not sitting in a church service with their checkbook in their hand talking themselves out of giving all they intended. They make one decision to become a faithful giver—and recurring giving allows them to keep their commitment. And if they ever run into problems, they can make adjustments to their giving amount as needed.
People who use recurring giving tend to give above and beyond their annual “tithe.” When the money comes out at the beginning of the month, they don’t miss it as much, and they’re more inclined to respond to needs and opportunities with benevolence above and beyond their regular giving.
On top of that, they have a record of everything they’ve given. At the end of the year, they don’t have to worry about whether you’ve logged all of their checks or giving envelopes. You have a digital record of every donation made, and at the end of the year, they have an accurate accounting of every penny they gave. This makes taxes a breeze.
It’s time to prioritize egiving
If you haven’t started prioritizing digital giving in your church, it’s time to seriously consider it. In every other area of their lives, people are accustomed to making digital payments and transfers. For a lot of folks, the church is one of the few places where they’re still expected to bring their checkbook or cash.
Maybe you have a form of digital giving available, but no one is really using it. It’s probably time to start favoring that donation method. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our free book The ECCU Guide to Digital Giving.