Study: Churches Lag Behind in Facilitating Online Giving

Online giving
Only 42 percent of churches have facilitated online giving measures. (Dunham and Company)

Only 42 percent of U.S churches provide an opportunity for online giving by members of their congregations, according to a recent Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker study. 

In contrast, 70 percent of non-church non-profits enable online giving from donors, according to another Campbell Rinker study conducted in March 2015 for The NonProfit Times

The proportion of churches allowing online giving plummets to 29 percent of churches with less than 200 in attendance, yet jumps to 7 out of 10 churches with weekly attendance of 200 or more.

Online giving still represents a small percentage of total charitable giving in the U.S., but research shows that it is a rapidly growing giving channel being adopted by all age demographics, based on the July 2014 Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker national study of online giving.

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Of the churches that allow online giving, the larger ones take a more proactive approach than the smaller ones in encouraging it. Forty-seven percent of the larger churches encourage online giving through email, 73 percent promote online giving in a printed newsletter or bulletin, and 58 percent do so during the service. Sixty percent of the smaller churches use their bulletin or newsletter to promote giving through the church's website.  And only 34 percent of these churches promote online giving by email, with less than half (47 percent) encouraging online giving during services. 

However, the percentage of online revenue did not increase dramatically based on the size of the church.  Churches that offer online giving with less than 200 weekly attendance received 11 percent of revenue from online, compared to just 13 percent of revenue given online for churches with more than 200 weekly attendance.

According to Blackbaud data, just more than 6 percent of donated revenue in America comes from online giving, so the church sector is outperforming the overall trend in online giving. 

"The fact that the percentage of giving doesn't vary dramatically based on size of church and the level of promotional activity indicates that this type of giving is consumer-driven, which lines up with our other studies," says Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company. "Yet we have found in our Online Scorecard study of 151 charities that the organizations that scored in the top 10 had 161 percent more online income than those in the bottom 10.  And those top 10 charities have websites optimized for giving and fundraising."

This Dunham+Company study was part of an online survey of church staff and lay leaders conducted by research firm Campbell Rinker in January and February 2015 among 655 church representatives. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.83 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

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