The steady increase in automatic payments continues. A study of 2,429 U.S. consumers in 2016 by ACI Worldwide and research firm Aite Group found “that 56 percent of all bills are paid online today.”
Millennials (61 percent) and Gen Xers (60 percent) are the most likely to do so, which isn’t surprising, but that’s not all. In a study that researched churchgoer habits and preferences, Vanco found that “38 percent of respondents age 66-72 said they would prefer to set up recurring electronic contributions on a credit card, but only 3 percent are given that option by their church.”
That flies in the face of common assumptions that older generations aren’t all that interested in paying their financial obligations online.
If recurring online payments are such a clear choice for churchgoers and the average American, more churches should consider offering that option for their members, especially given the benefits of this type of online giving.
Three reasons your churchgoers want recurring online giving
Fewer late gifts and less stress: Writing a check each month or remembering to have cash on hand for a donation takes forethought and effort. Some families may not even use checks anymore (we recently wrote about disappearing checks and how their use has dropped by half).
For those who do use checks, it’s difficult for families to always be in the pews when summer trips and winter colds keep them away or at home. Cash on hand is even less of an option since most Americans carry $20 or less. Setting up a recurring payment, then letting it automatically donate each month is a timesaver and removes stress that comes from forgetting to give. For churches, it means more consistent, predictable giving that can help lessen the effects of the summer slump.
It’s safer and secure: Checks can get lost in the mail, and paper trails leave room for misplaced documents and stolen information. Keeping everything online where information is encrypted and never shared means your members’ information is used for only one purpose: giving money each month to your church. It’s a win-win situation for you and your members.
More giving options: Giving by check means giving directly from a bank account each month. For some members, that’s not their favorite option. Offering online recurring giving allows your members to choose which account to give from, or the option to pay with a credit card. In fact, the study mentioned above found that 46 percent of bills are paid by credit card, so your members are already familiar with this method of recurring online payments. Adding giving to the recurring list is a simple step that would make many of your churchgoers happy.
As more of your members become familiar with recurring online giving, it’s important to provide giving opportunities they understand and expect. The good news is that it’s as easy for churches to offer recurring giving as it is for members to take advantage of it. All it takes is a little research and a willingness to try something new.