Friction. It’s a marketing term used to describe all the little things we do (or don’t do) that make it harder for someone to buy a product, or in the case of our churches and ministries, make a donation. Let’s face it, if it’s too hard, it isn’t going to happen. So what are you going to do about it?
The article was prompted by a question I asked earlier this week at our monthly staff meeting. I inquired as to how well the online donation buttons were working. In the ensuing discussion, it was suggested that a lot of the Episcopal churches in West Missouri still didn’t have online payment methods. I agreed to write a short article reminding churches that we are offering to provide PayPal buttons to any church that needs them, and for the moment, the diocese will cover any processing costs associated with these donations.
This is that article, but as I investigated and wrote it, it grew to cover the wider, and important topic of keeping your information accurate and up to date.
If you would like to have a PayPal donate button on your website please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org you can read the original article on donation buttons here.
An email I received today, was a stark reminder of Friction and changed what I was going to write. The email came from someone trying to contact a church and make a donation. In part, the email read,
I have been trying to reach someone at [redacted] all to no avail.
I have repeatedly called the listed number.
I have driven by on Sundays.
I would like to speak to someone about the building and making a cash contribution.
There are lessons to be learned here. Just how much friction has this person encountered? I tried to find out.
I am amazed that this person, who wants to give the church money, didn’t just give up and find another worthy cause.
- I checked the church on the Find a Church function of the diocesan website (which is the same as the Find a Church function of The Episcopal Church). There was no contact information. In fact, there’s no information, except a link to the church’s website (more on that below).
- Visiting the website, it was difficult to tell if the church is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 or open as usual. presumably the latter. Here I found a phone number and email address. There was no provision for me to make a donation.
- I thought I’d find them on Facebook and see if they were open or not. It looked like business as usual, but then looking back I couldn’t see any announcements that the church had reopened either. I found a link to a different church webpage … It had the same basic information as that on the webpage registered with The Episcopal Church, but it wasn’t the same website. Again I was left feeling uncertain as to whether the church was open or not, and there was no provision for me to make a donation.
- Checking on Google left me none the wiser.
I am amazed that this person, who wanted to give the church money, didn’t just give up and find another worthy cause. Instead, they took the time to find my contact details, and in desperation asked me to help.
Let’s pick this apart and make it relevant to your church. Does your website, social media, and on-site signage, where appropriate, provide:
An aside … Shame on any church that is now considering stopping online prayers and services. They are turning their backs on those people who are, for whatever reason, stuck at home or elsewhere, who were finally being given a spiritual lifeline via the internet to take part in the life of the church again.
- Clear accurate contact information?
- A clear indication of if you are open or not and the times of your services and other ministries?
- Do you provide information on your online services? This is essential for those not able to attend in person. An aside, I’m going to be blunt with my personal opinion here. Shame on any church that is now considering stopping online prayers and services. They are turning their backs on those people who are, for whatever reason, stuck at home or elsewhere, who were finally being given a spiritual lifeline via the internet to take part in the life of the church again.
- A means to donate online?
Questions to ask yourselves. Put your self in the position of someone who has never visited your church before, knows nothing about it, and what’s been going on over the past few months.
- Is the information about your church on Google accurate?
- Is your church’s Find a Church (Asset Map) entry complete and up to date?
- Is your website up to date?
- Do you have an easy way for people to donate online? Is there an obvious button? Do you explain what the money is used for? Why you need it? Do you say “thank you”?
Just how hard are we making it for people to come to Christ through our church communities?
If you need help with any of the above, contact me, I’m here to help you and your church — email@example.com, (417) 522-5151.
Let’s all learn a lesson from this person’s attempts to give to a church.