Donation Trends

Here's The Real Reason Why Most Church Giving Tools Produce Similar Results

Post by
Michael Yonke

Spoiler alert: they all capture the same type of donor.

Outside of traditional cash and check, your church likely offers a mobile app, kiosk, text giving, mobile app, and online giving. If someone wants to give, surely one of those options is suitable, right? If you ask me, the answer would be no.

There are certain levels to your donors. Some of them are going to give no matter what, but as you go down the donor levels, donating has to get easier if you want to capture that donor. Easier options are adopted by more people. That's why people go through the drive-thru instead of walking inside and waiting in line. That's why you throw a DiGiorno in the oven instead making a pizza from scratch. That's why people use mobile deposit instead of hauling a single check to their bank. It's the path of least resistance for the user.

The current donation options for your donors all have a level of resistance to them, and if you agree that your church has levels of donors, from the 20-year church member to the drive-by giver, there is a portion of your church that is not going to give because it's not easy enough for them, they haven't been given the opportunity they will say yes to yet.

Let's break down some of the giving tools and talk about the resistance each one carries from a donor's perspective.

Mobile Apps

In order for someone to donate with your app, you're asking them to go the app store, find your app, download it to their phone which is already lacking in storage I'm sure, create an account, input their bank information, and then remember to login and donate every week, assuming they aren't comfortable setting up recurring giving yet. And after all of that work, 90% of mobile apps get opened once and are deleted. Imagine if you walked into the grocery, you get up to the checkout, and the store owner says if you want to buy that gallon of milk, I am going to need you to do it through this app. Needless to say, you might just go to a different place next time that makes checkout a little easier.

Text Giving

On the surface, this sounds so easy. You tell your members to text this number to donate. It sounds simple until they get that text reply asking them to create an account and look up their routing and bank account numbers. Maybe I am making it sound more difficult than it really is, but there is certainly a level of donor that isn't willing to take these steps in order to donate. In fact, 30% of people abandon a transaction if they are asked to create an account in order to complete a transaction. There goes a portion of your donors.

Online Giving

This is every church's favorite because most donations are recurring making forecasting that much simpler for them. Again, online giving is not for every level of donor. First, they have to create an account. I won't harp on this one anymore. Second, there's a generation of people at church that despise recurring bank debits. Unfortunately, this is reserved for Spotify and student loans. Third, if they don't set up recurring giving, they have to remember to give. They have to open their browser, login, and donate to your church as if they don't have a million other things going on during the weekends. And last but not least, giving from your computer isn't the same as giving in the moment during the service when your attention is piqued. Pastors spend days writing and practicing their sermons to move an entire group of people, but online giving is like asking someone to squeeze in their generosity between dropping the kids at soccer practice and making dinner.


Kiosks have many of the same problems mentioned above. Donors have to create an account, sometimes they have to actually wait in a line to give, and it all happens outside of the service. You're asking people to give after the service when they're rushing to their cars to beat the brunch rush or before the service when they are already 5 minutes late because someone in the family couldn't find the right shoes to wear. Kiosks were booming a while back, but maybe their appeal has been lost for some of these reasons.


Arguably, this may be the simplest solution of all for the generation that still carries cash. If you have cash, put it in this basket when we place it in your lap. That sounds simpler than all the other tools if you ask me. The problem is most people don't carry cash, and 80% of people prefer to use a card over cash for transactions. Maybe that's why the traditional basket is dying.

It sounds like I am bashing all of the donation tools out there, but I'm really not. I have used all of them at one point or another, but the current donation tools only appeal to the level of donor who is willing to jump through a few hoops to donate. To answer this blog post's question, the reason why most donation tools produce the same results is because their appeal only reaches a certain level of donor. There's a lot of stats out there on giving, but generally speaking, only about 50% of people at church give anything at all. That means that the church's current donation tools are only capturing half of the potential donors. No matter how easy a tool is, you'll never capture everyone because giving isn't just based on ease-of-use. There's more to the decision to give than that, but that's outside the control of any giving tool.

Why Pod was Built

"We were the first church to use Pod, and at this point, we couldn't stop using it for our offering."

If you don't know what Pod is, you can read more about it here. In a few words, Pod allows anyone to give with their card during the service in a single second. There's no creating an account, downloading an app, remembering cash, or waiting in line at a kiosk. When we built Pod, the entire goal was to remove all of the obstacles to giving so that those who had the ability to give had the easiest opportunity to give, the path of least resistance we like to call it. It was never meant to take away from another giving option. It was meant to be an option for the level of donor it would appeal to, and our data showed that by appealing to that level of donor, you can boost your offering by 45% by simply passing around Pods during the offering.

Debit card being inserted into the Pod donation tool
One-second card donations made for churches.
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