3 Things Southwest Airlines Taught Me About Online Giving

Written by Mogiv Team, Filed under Church Life, Mobile Giving, Online Giving, Uncategorized.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Southwest Airlines flights this year. And it’s all my wife’s fault. She travels for work at least once a month, and – since my work for Mogiv can be done from anywhere with Wi-Fi and cell reception – I’ve made a habit of tagging along. Especially when she’s traveling to a city with an abundance of mountains, beaches, coffee shops, or some combination thereof.

Whether you’ve flown on Southwest Airlines or not, I bet you’re well familiar with their brightly colored planes and quirky antics. Their winning corporate culture, and uncommon approach to air travel have won them numerous awards over the years and have inspired more than a few business school case studies.

But corporate execs and rival airlines aren’t the only ones who could borrow a page or two from Southwest’s playbook. Those of us working in fundraising and church stewardship could learn a few things from them as well!

Turns out, some of the things Southwest is getting right are as essential for online giving as they are for air travel. Seem like a stretch? Let me show you what I mean. Here are three parallels that I jotted down on a recent Southwest Flight.

1. Let The People Choose!

You may have heard that Southwest doesn’t assign seats on their tickets. Instead flights are boarded according in a pre-set sequence, and – once aboard – you are free to choose any open seat you’d like. What freedom! What possibility! But the flexibility doesn’t end there. When it comes time for snacks, the attendants bring a box around with an array of crackers, pretzels, cookies, etc. Flyers are permitted to take as many of each as they’d like. What freedom! What feasting! (I cannot recommend the “plane cookies” highly enough.)

This is the same approach we encourage our customers to take with their giving. Why limit your supporters to only one or two channels for giving to your organization? Give them an array of options and let them decide which one they’d like to utilize. Some might prefer to give in person. Others with a check in the mail. Some might enjoy giving from their mobile phone. Others will prefer to create a recurring donation on your website. The more options the better!

2. Service Is No Small Thing

Contacting airline customer service departments can be one of the more unpleasant experiences in the developed world. Not so with Southwest! When I had trouble using the Wi-Fi I’d purchased on one of their flights, I sent an email to their support inbox, not really expecting much of a response. Within 48 hours, I’d received a personal reply with not only a refund, but also a voucher for free WI-FI on a future flight. What had been an unpleasant experience was transformed into one more reason for me to love Southwest!

This is the level of support you should expect from your digital giving provider. Generosity is too important to leave in the hands of a distant or disinterested vendor. You can’t afford to have downtime or delayed responses to giver requests. What you need is a partner who is going to take the time to understand (and respond to!) the unique challenges facing your organization.

3. The Fewer Fees The Better 

While flights on Southwest are consistently cheaper than many of their counterparts, what is even more impressive is their commitment to avoid the other ancillary fees that have become all the rage these days. Baggage fees, cancellation fees, seat change fees, and more. Shoot, with most airlines, you can’t even get a Coke without being charged a “fee.” Not so with Southwest. Luggage, flight changes, and Cokes are all processed free of charge.

This is the same approach we have taken with our fees at Mogiv. Yes, there will always be a “cost” associated with processing donations online, but we think those fees should be as simple and straightforward as they are at Southwest. No setup fees. No subscription fees. No service fees. No annual compliance fees. No cancellation fees. All you pay are some nominal processing fees when people actually use Mogiv to give. The way we see it…if it’s not working for you, you shouldn’t be paying for it!


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