We’ve all heard the Ben Franklin quote: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, in the world of digital giving, we can add a third pillar of certitude: death, taxes, and processing fees.
Ah yes, the fees. The “fly in the ointment” of The Digital Giving Revolution. For all the explosive growth online and mobile donation channels have experienced in recent years, and for all of the new gifts (and new givers!) these tools have enabled, the cost of receiving these donations continues to be a sticking point for many people.
We have written in the past about keeping “the costs” of online giving in their proper context. Obviously, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing if we didn’t believe that the benefits of giving technology far outweighed the costs. However, we also understand how frustrating it can be to see 3% of your cash receipts leaving your organization’s bank account each month. Especially if your organization is strapped for cash, as most nonprofits are.
Because of this, it is no surprise that many churches and ministries actually encourage people away from digital giving. But that doesn’t seem to be the right approach either. You’ve taken the time to invest in providing additional giving tools for your supporters. Why make them feel guilty for taking advantage of them?
There must be a better way to talk about processing fees. So let’s talk about a few of those ways! This is far from a comprehensive list, but the steps below are all things we’ve seen work well at the hundreds of organizations we partner with. Perhaps they’ll bear fruit with your givers as well!
It’s 2016. Debit cards and credit cards aren’t exactly new technology anymore. Most of your givers are already well aware that using bankcards come at a cost to the receiving organization. So be upfront about this reality! But be sure to do so in a non-threatening, non-guilt-inducing way. I have seen many organizations include a short “disclaimer” at the bottom of their giving page. This can be an effective method to both educate and engage your supporters.
Example Text: As you know, there are fees associated with processing donations online. To ensure that giving is accessible to everyone, we are happy to pay these fees. We have also worked closely with our giving provider to keep these fees as low as possible. For more info about these fees, please visit mogiv.com pricing. Note also that 100% of your gifts submitted online are tax deductible.
Encourage People Toward ACH Giving
Any giving provider worth its salt (including Mogiv!) will provide options for your supporters to give not only via credit card and debit card but via direct bank transfer (aka ACH) as well. These transactions typically come with much lower fees than bankcard transactions. Encourage your supporters to go this route!
Example Text: Cards accepted are Visa, MasterCard, Discover and we now take American Express. You may also choose to give through direct bank draft, which we highly recommend. This has a much smaller fee than credit and debit cards, allowing more of your donation to go toward ministry.
Allow The Givers Themselves To Participate In The Fees
Different organizations have different feelings about this option, but – for churches and nonprofits that are especially sensitive to any money being taken away from ministry – another option is to allow your supporters to participate in the cost of their giving. Assuming your platform provides this option. (Note: Mogiv does!) When presented with this option, many of your supporters will be more than happy to “pick up the tab” for their processing fees. The screenshot below shows what this option looks like at Mogiv.
Example Text: Gifts given online come with processing fees ranging from 1% – 3%. In order to make giving accessible to everyone, we are more than happy to cover these costs. It’s a small price to pay for your generosity! However, if you feel led, you can also check the box on the giving form below to add the processing fees to your total. This will ensure that 100% of your intended gift goes straight to ministry.
What About Credit Cards?
The use of credit cards in giving is an ongoing debate in many churches. Is it worth the higher fees? Is it responsible? Is it even Biblical? These questions deserve a more thorough response than we have space for here, but – suffice it to say – we believe that gifts given via credit card can be every bit as worshipful as gifts given via cash or check. We also believe that people who are struggling with debt typically did not find themselves in that situation due to their excessive giving. That said, most giving platforms (including Mogiv!) make it easy for churches to limit their giving to only debit card and ACH gifts. While this may present a hurdle to some would-be givers, it can help keep your processing fees down.
How have the conversations around processing fees been shaped at your organization? Have you done anything that was especially? Or seen anything that looked especially effective? Share the reports in the comments below!