Ministry Partnership Funds add flexibility for churches and members
March 21, 2019
Online giving is steadily growing at “Decatur’s oldest church with the newest ideas,” according to the Rev. Dr. Todd Speed. He’s the senior pastor at Decatur Presbyterian Church, an 800-member multi-generational church in the east Atlanta metro area that has used services from the Presbyterian Foundation to collect online donations since 2012.
The dollars contributed via online giving comprise roughly 5 percent of the total annual giving to the church, a small but growing number, Speed said. The ease of use by the congregation and finance staff makes it more than worthwhile.
“We’re trying to make sure we give people options,” he said. “We put a QR code [a code that can be scanned by smartphones] in the bulletin and it ties into our giving page on the website. We’re able to use a couple of different funds. One of the keys for us is we can tell when someone sends a gift to operations, a capital campaign or a special gift. It’s not just one size fits all and that’s helpful for us.”
The congregation recently employed the special gift option to raise funds for a Presbyterian Disaster Assistance hurricane appeal. “We’re seeing more and more people who want to give this way,” Speed said.
By Dec. 31, 2018, churches and ministries had started 488 new accounts, up from 256 new accounts in 2017. Through Nov. 30, $5.1 million had been given through those accounts for 2018, up from $3.8 million for all of 2017.
The use of Ministry Partnership Funds is growing rapidly because they meet a need, says Robert Hay Jr., the Presbyterian Foundation’s Ministry Relations Officer for the Southeast. Plus, the accounts are easy to set up. Churches fill out the paperwork, put a “donate now” button on their website and the Foundation takes care of the rest. Once all of the information is received at the Foundation, the funds can be ready for use in about a week.
“It’s an absolute need,” Hay said. “It’s one of the first things I do, the first thing I present, in churches that are looking to expand giving opportunities in the congregation.”
As Decatur Presbyterian Church has discovered, it’s no secret that charitable giving via electronic funds transfer and credit cards is on the rise. According to the Bethesda, Maryland-based Nonprofits Source, online charitable giving grew from $19.2 billion in 2012 to over $31 billion in 2017 and was forecast to have exceeded $35 billion in 2018.
Churches have seen a similar increase in online and electronic giving. Nonprofits Source notes that 49 percent of all church donations in 2017 were given via electronic means. Furthermore, when surveyed by the group, 60 percent of church participants said they were willing to give to their churches digitally.
The process of enrollment is quite easy and involves collecting banking and tax information to be input into the system and assigning administrative roles, Elkin said. Once the system is configured, an online giving link is available for the church or ministry to use in about a week.
A flat rate of 2 percent is deducted from each donation to support the program, much lower than other church-centric online donation platforms.
In addition to regular recurring contributions or tithing, the Foundation can set up long-term giving opportunities that help fund mission projects, capital needs or larger expenditures, as was done for Decatur Presbyterian Church.
“The Ministry Partnership Funds system has encouraged people to set up regular online giving through their bank,” Speed said. “It provides them a way to give other than a check and has broadened peoples’ thoughts on how to contribute to the church.”
“We’re glad to have online giving,” he added. “It’s been affordable and easy to use. We went with and stay with the Foundation because they offer an inexpensive solution that’s well supported.”
Gregg Brekke, freelance writer, editor, photographer and videographer who recently served as editor of Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Foundation
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Creator God, help us to remember what it means to show the same kind of generosity that we see in Jesus Christ. May people’s lives be transformed through Christ’s ministry. Amen.