This winter, as we were all struggling to dig out from underneath piles of snow, St. Stephen’s quietly launched a new way to give to our community through an online portal. Since then, we have been testing it out and making sure that everything is working properly. A handful of people have given it a test and we are happy to now announce it more broadly in our congregation.
We hope that you will try out this new and convenient way to contribute to the life and ministry of St. Stephen’s—we thank you for your generous support that makes everything we do possible!
What is online giving?
Online giving is a collection of tools that allows an individual to give money quickly and conveniently to support St. Stephen’s. Much like you can do on any online store, you can use your credit card to make a donation. Unlike most online stores, you can also opt to set up electronic fund transfers directly from your checking account (much in the same way that a physical check works). What’s more, online giving allows you to designate which fund you want your money to go towards (i.e. the general fund, the capital campaign, or something more specific, such as Harvest House) as well as set up automatic giving so that you can set it up, forget it, and rest comfortably knowing that you are helping make what we do here possible.
How does online giving help me?
Perhaps the single biggest benefit for people who use online giving is ease of mind. Once you set up a recurring gift, whether it is on a weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly basis, you can say goodbye to trying to remember to bring your check book or giving envelopes or the frustration that comes when you realize that you’ve forgotten them!
The second benefit is convenience. Even if you choose not to set up a recurring gift, our easy-to-use giving page allows you to make a donation right from the screen of your smartphone. What’s more, you can even designate where you want your money to go, which takes the guess work out of giving money.
The third benefit of being able to give using your credit card is the opportunity to earn miles, points, or cash back through your own credit card rewards program. Not only are you donating money to support our life and mission, you are now able to get rewarded for it!
How does online giving help St. Stephen’s?
There are many way! Churches often struggle with cash flow—just because a budget is balanced doesn’t mean that we always have the money when we need it. Vacation travel, severe weather, and other factors cause donations coming into the church to ebb and flow. Unfortunately, church expenses stay fairly consistent—utilities, payroll, and other operating expenses don’t change much throughout the year. This means that at certain times, the money coming in isn’t enough to cover the expenses going out, forcing the church to tap into savings or explore other measures.
Online giving helps to solve this problem in two ways. First, people can donate from the comfort of their home or the convenience of their phone—so if church is canceled due to weather, there is still a way to continue supporting our common ministry. More importantly, by setting up automatic payments, you can help the church stabilize its cash flow so that donations continue to come in consistently to cover our expenses even when you are traveling on vacation!
Doesn’t it cost money to donate online?
There are some costs associated with accepting credit card and electronic fund transfer (EFT) transactions, but they aren’t unreasonable and the vestry considers them the cost of doing business. What’s more, studies of churches that accept online giving have found that those churches more than make up the expenses associated with accepting online donations with an increase in donations due to the convenience of online giving and the consistency of regular, automatic giving.
If you are concerned with the cost of processing your donation, you can choose to make your online donation using the e-Check (electronic fund transfer) option, which is the cheapest form of transaction for us to process. However, we encourage you to do use whatever is most convenient for you and if you want to earn rewards for your donation, then you will need to use your credit card.
Is it secure?
Yes. St. Stephen’s never sees or receives your credit card or account information—it is all handled and processed through our online payments provider, which offers PCI Level 1 compliance (the same level of security offered by your bank).
Get Started Today!
Visit www.ststeves.org/give to get started with online giving!