Using Online Donations To Increase Tithing to Churches

Times have changed in every single field and industry due to the pervasiveness of the Internet. It really has informed and affected the way that we do our business on a day-to-day basis, no matter what that business may be. There was a time, not too long ago, that a church or community could pass a basket around every Sunday and rest-assured that the lights would stay on for another week. However, with the rising expenses of running a church, the “old-fashioned” way of doing things may not be the best choice.

Just like engaging younger church members with a website, using an online donation system is a perfect way to increase the amount of contributions that your church takes in, and even makes it easy on your community members by letting them pay in a way that doesn’t disrupt their routine. Many people don’t even carry cash anymore! Often, it’s not the concept of the small donation or tithe that prevents people from contributing, but the convenience of not having the cash when they attend church. For some, it may even be that they would contribute more if they had more money on hand.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with the internet recognizes what an important aspect commerce is to the success of the world wide web. Because of its importance, sending money between people online has been made even easier in today’s world of technology. With online tithing, churches can accept donations online, create reports and even send emails to church email lists.

Using PayPal is one of many convenient ways to accept online giving. Doing so just involves setting up an account, and then copying the code for their widget onto your page. You can adjust what it says, but many people just have it to set to “donate here!”. Most users already have a PayPal account (as it is widely used for buying things on eBay and other ecommerce sites), so sending money to the church is as simple as pressing the donate button, setting an amount, and hitting “confirm”.

For those that don’t want to deal with PayPal or would prefer to use another option, there are dozens of other alternatives designed specifically to streamline the process of accepting money for your church’s website. These tools are easily designed to be used by any church member or volunteer, very few of them actually require more than just pasting the widget into your church website. As always, Truepath can help you get something working if you need any help.

Why would you deprive yourself of the donations that could be raised by implementing online giving? The process of configuring it can take less than fifteen minutes after an online account has been created. Online giving is a great way to connect more deeply with your church members, and increase the revenue stream for your church to better provide for your community.


Create Church Websites Without HTML

Oftentimes, it’s the worry about the complexity of websites that prevents church administrators from even trying to create a website the first place. Despite leaps forward in usability and ease-of-use that have been introduced in the past ten years, many people (especially those that were around before these changes became commonplace) remember the pages of hypertext markup language (HTML) code and proprietary programs from a simpler time in web development. HTML is still the language of the web; all websites remain comprised of HTML (and some other facets). However, what is much simpler in this day and age is creating websites without writing any HTML at all, even for a small church without an IT budget.

In fact, the majority of the church websites that you see were not built by a web designer typing code into a text file. In the last few years Content Management Systems (CMS) have become the standard way of creating web sites. Instead of writing the HTML, users install the CMS onto a web hosting space (or have their host do it for them) and log into it on the web. From here, each CMS is different, but the concept is the same: find a church website template that you like, create pages within the website template?, type the content you would like, then hit publish?. It really is that simple, and looking at the underlying code of the site will still show HTML, even though the person tasked with creating the site didn’t have to write any. The function of the CMS is to allow a non-technical person to create a site without having to learn the intricacies of web development.

CMS packages can be used to create a church blog or church website. Many CMS packages are popular, well-documented and FREE solutions that are widely-used and very versatile and even come with hundreds of plugins and themes to help build your online project. Part of the reason CMS programs have become so popular with churches is that with a little reading, any church member can take up the job of webmaster. In our experience, a volunteer tasked with the job can put together a basic website in a weekend, from conception to publishing. Such CMS products include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and ImpressPages. They are all designed with different goals in mind, so the best tool for someone else’s job may not be the best tool for yours. While some of these can be complicated and overwhelming, often used for corporate websites with lots of content, there are others that are made for the more novice user that have basic familiarity with computers yet still have great options with lots of functionality. If you don’t know what you need exactly, and are just experimenting with the idea of trying out a website, try using some of the more simple products.

For some options, such as WordPress and ImpressPages, the emphasis is on usability for the creator of the site. As WYSIWYG (pronounced wissee-wig) web building programs (which stands for “what you see is what you get”), the panels and elements are in a ??drag-and-drop fashion and editable without opening any other pages, just like a text document on your computer. In addition to being easily configurable, these packages also have a number of “widgets” that you can drag around to do things such as play music/videos or embed pictures/documents. These options are widely-used by churches everywhere because of the very easy learning curve. Most volunteers will at least have had experience with Microsoft Word or a similar program, so the concept is very similar.

Most, if not all of these CMS packages, are categorized as Open Source software. This term refers to the type of program license and means that anyone is free to add fixes and improvements to a program. This may sound too technical, but what this means to an end-user is that open source programs often are great choices that don’t involve a fee at all. In addition, Open Source software is easy to write extensions for, so many are known to be incredibly versatile. Many users have written sermon podcasting and church photo gallery plugins for WordPress that are now free to use and easy to install from the WordPress plugins menu.

With a little bit of research, it should become clear to anyone that setting up a website is really not that far removed from setting up a Facebook page or sending an email. The tools to do so are available, and in many cases, completely free. Don’t be scared of the prospect of encountering HTML code as you may never see any the entire time youâ??re building your own website!


Using Technology in Christian Churches Bridges Age Gap

Many churches experience the same problem when it comes to keeping their pre-teen or teenage members involved in church activities once they begin to grow out their parents’ influence and start making decisions for themselves. It’s easy to keep young children engaged in church. Songs, and the communal nature of worship are a easy for kids to relate to, but when they reach a certain age, keeping them involved is a different sort of problem.

In this day and age, it’s important to speak to kids in a language that they understand, and communicate with them in the way that they are comfortable. The internet has bridged gaps between countries and generations, and continues to be the primary method through which our children communicate with each other, share their feelings, and learn about the world around them. Because of this sea of change, it’s important to have a presence online for you to stay relevant with your church.

We recommend that in building an online presence, you begin with a website. Many churches and Christian communities get by with having a Facebook profile or some other form of social network site, but when it comes to centralizing content for your community, having a webpage is the best way to do it. Once you have built a website, you can link it to a social profile such as Google+ or Facebook to build a social following. With a website, your young churchgoers will know where to go for updates and information, can send their friends links to your pages, and, in combination with a social profile, can “Like” your church to show their affiliation and faith on their own Facebook or Google+.

To many older church administrators, it seems that websites and internet interaction are secondary to the old-fashioned way of doing things, but it really cannot be overstated how online interactions have, in many ways, strengthened communities rather than weakened them. Many people are concerned that building a website requires a church administrator to know “code” (HTML) or have some familiarity already with the process of web design. However, it has never been easier than it is today to build a website from the ground up. Many web hosts offer packages to purchase a domain name and a pre-set amount of hosting resources. For a simple church website, one rarely needs to move past the bottom tier of hosting plans in many cases. With the advent of Youtube, sermons can be added and embedded into your site without even using storage space, and then can be easily viewable on computers, tablet, and phones. The resources to build a dynamic, professional-looking site are really only a few clicks away, despite the intimidation that many feel when they set out to build a website.

When it comes down to it, speaking to our young church members in a language that they understand (and through a device that they’re using anyway), is really a great way to bridge the gap between older community members who may just be getting started with a computer, and those who have been using one since they were in diapers. A basic website, even one that is built by a church volunteer with little spare time, is an invaluable tool for engaging members of your church and creating a strong community.