3 Stages to a successful transition
If you don’t think a seamless transition to a new digital giving platform is possible – think again!
With the right team, support, and promotional materials, you save time and reduce stress.
Let’s look at the 3 stages to successful transition:
🕒 Stage 1: Prepare to Make the Move
Choose a "switch-by" date
It takes time to change things in your church, so plan for a 3 month transition. This ensures more flexibility in choosing your “switch-by” date. Most people take 1-2 months to phase out their old platform, so they have plenty of time to inform everyone and those people, in turn, have time to make the change themselves.
Once you’ve determined the “switch-by” date, make sure you:
1. Recruit your launch team
Decide who’s in charge of the website and communications
Involve your leadership team and choose who will conduct the live launch
Enlist volunteers to test the giving experience and help inform others about the new platform
2. Update your website and communications
Add your new giving link to your church’s website
Explain the transition on your website
Make sure new recurring gifts cannot be created on the old platform
Communicate the change to your church using emails, social media, slides before and during service, bulletin inserts, and more. You can customize this email template to help announce the transition
Take special care with your recurring givers. Send special communication to recurring givers, so they can switch in just a few clicks (we can help with that!)
We have a lot of launch materials designed to build excitement and help you prepare! We want to ensure that you have everything you need to inform 100% of your people about the transition, whether they come to church every Sunday, once a month, or are visiting for the first time.
Create a Timeline
It is important that you don’t under or overestimate your timeline for migrating giving systems. Depending on the complexity of your current system, integrations and more, it could take as little as 48 hours once you actually press play. But the timeline for switching giving platforms isn’t just about the technical process.
You want to ensure that your leadership first, and congregation second, feel informed and are prepared to give in a new way. This may mean that you extend the lead time to allow for a few weeks to cascade the information from leadership down to your people. If you hurry this, it may undermine adoption.
As you create a timeline, consider:
How long will it take to get our current system ready to migrate, including saving backup data or preparing data?
How long does the new online giving platform take to activate?
How many weeks do we want to talk about this change, from the pulpit, in the bulletin or in small groups?
Do we want to have a testing period before we go live to the whole congregation?
There may also be seasonal considerations. For instance, if you want to implement new online giving before Christmas, you may pursue a more ambitious timeline. If you’re on the cusp of summer in a highly seasonal population, you may want to delay implementation until fall. Ultimately, decide on the timeline that is best both for your people and for the process.
🕒 Stage 2: How to Have a Successful Launch
This is an exciting time! Remember, by launching a new giving platform, you have an amazing opportunity to remind people about online, text, and mobile app giving options, reach those that have never given before, and even inspire recurring givers to give more! Plus, you’re improving the giver and admin experience.
With all the preparations complete, it’s time to show people how simple it is to give:
Announce the transition to your church
Explain to your church why you’ve decided to change giving platforms
Demonstrate the quick and easy steps to give using your new platform
Encourage everyone to set up an account right away, but also continually remind people to make the switch.
Until the transition is complete, take a minute during each service to remind people of the new giving process
Send friendly email reminders to those still using the old system and include action links for recurring givers
Continue communicating on social media, email, and in bulletins about the “switch-by” date
Factors to consider in your Launch Strategy
Setting up a new giving platform takes some time. The level of buy-in you get from the congregation will directly depend on your leadership’s ability to promote it effectively. Your first tactic should be to get the leadership on board. Whether your church has a pastor and a couple of elders or numerous, large ministries with pastoral leaders, you need clear and consistent communication from the get-go.
Some digital giving companies will have onboarding webinars, or will be willing to do live calls to inspire your leadership team. Take advantage of all of that and be sure that leadership gets the first word on the decisions being made and the timeline for implementation.
Leadership Team Testing
If you have time, a trial run of a new digital giving platform could go a long way. Try a “soft open” with your leadership team. Have them go through training and download the app or use the website. This will not only help you identify issues, but ensure they have the capacity to train other staff or people in the congregation. There’s no better way for them to get familiar with the system.
As long as your leaders are bought-in, the congregation will follow. It is important that people in the church feel like they are a part of this process. Tithing is part of obedience to the Lord, meaning that this joyful gesture is about the heart.
Every person is different, meaning their level of comfort with giving online may vary. It is important to address their fears or concerns by clearly explaining your goals in implementing a new giving system. Their money, given to God, is going to do the work of the ministry in the same way it always has. Removing barriers to giving, and making it easier to give online, is another way your church is serving them and encouraging obedience.
Think through how you will talk about online giving, how you plan to speak about the new digital giving platform in a consistent way and how best to convey your heart about giving.
While the transition between online giving platforms may be easy for some people, other people like to prepare. Be sure that your messaging clearly delineates what people can expect, including:
Why you are making this change
What the timeline is for the transition
The exact date when the new platform will be live
How they will be trained/can learn to use the new platform
What to do if they encounter issues
Providing materials, both your own and third-party ones, will go a long way in answering people’s questions and ensuring peace of mind.
Those are the three main areas of “what” to tell your people; now let’s cover “how.”
If you are still using church bulletins, an insert is a great way to get info about new digital giving services into people’s hands. Depending on your timeline, having an insert or at least a bulletin item updating people every week will help people prepare.
Keep in mind that this may not be the place to give people all of the logistics: you want to secure buy-in by highlighting the reason for this change, and the outcomes people can expect.
Here are some examples of messaging items you can use in a church bulletin:
A vision statement about why you are changing giving platforms
Case studies or testimonials about the platform
Online giving features and options
A timeline/countdown for when the new online giving will go live
Contact info where they can email or call to get answers to questions
Links to an online portal where they can learn more
Of course, whether or not you have a print option to get the message across, digital messaging should be a core part of your strategy.
Digital Messaging and Resources
If you are making a digital giving service switch, you must advertise it. Consider where you have a digital presence and then thoughtfully send messages that promote the new platform. Most often, churches see success by talking about new online giving in the following places:
Your church website—Have the pastor or team sourcing the new giving software write content for the website and perhaps an article or two explaining the vision and process.
Your church social media profiles—Use this as an opportunity to provide video or written updates about the process, and be sure to include links to learn more.
Church email list—Be sure to use email to update people on the progress of this switch, especially if your congregation is large or has many digital service attendees. It can be easy to miss live announcements. If the congregation isn’t grabbing a bulletin, email is the best way to get the word out.
🕒 Stage 3: Finalize your Transition
Data migration is the step that most churches are worried about: will I lose givers if I switch platforms? The truth is, both the people and their data are pretty easy to move, as long as you know what you’re doing. Sometimes, there will be an API integration with church management software. Other times, it’s simply an export/import of the data from matching fields.
You will have uncovered what you need to know when you investigated the giving software to begin with, so you should have a clear picture of what integrations need to be undone and redone, and any other software changes that need to be made. It’s often very fast at this stage, and the technology-dependent part can take as little as a couple of days.
All of the data you move in migration includes financials, saved payment methods, etc. What many church leaders are concerned about is losing donor-related information during a giving platform switch. Only very small and underdeveloped platforms run any risk of that happening. None of the quality giving platforms carry any risk at all, because they use tested systems and cloud-based backups. If you are worried about it, ask specifically how the platform protects against data loss during giving platform migration.