Online Giving

Support your church's ministry through online giving

Setting Up Online Giving

Covid-19 is changing the way we worship, fellowship and connect. As you know, the church is more active than ever, because God's people need Him more than ever.

Brass tacks, the church needs support to run. Payroll, building maintenance and now streaming and telecommunications are essential. Your church needs a way for folks to easily give.

We have compiled a list of options below that we're familiar with, but first a primer: not all services focused on giving are created equal.

Electronic Giving types

Credit and Debit cards are commonplace for making payments online. Churches must also consider direct debit or 'ACH' capability too. ACH, in effect, allows a donor to use the information on a paper check (routing, account number) to make a payment directly from their checking account. Certain folks simply don't use credit / debit cards yet.

Emergent mobile-phone based services like Venmo (a paypal company) or 'Text to Give' can also be explored to make giving as easy and quick as possible. Google or Apple Pay are also increasingly being used for people giving with their mobile device - but these giving methods usually are tied to a physical card.


Ranging from simple to complex, consider what type of giving suits your people best.

A so-called 'virtual terminal' is a service that works like the credit card reader you might see in a grocery store, but instead of an actual device you pass your card through, Virtual Terminal services can accept payment information through the internet. Virtual terminal situations can be useful for churches that wish to accept one-time donations by a telephone call to the office, in-person donations, and through a website portal connected to your church's website. These work great in a pinch and are generally easy to setup, but are focused on one-time (non-recurring) transactions and usually only accept debit and credit cards. Some accept Apple or Android Pay.

'Giving Platforms' often include the functionality of a virtual terminal, with more features, such as Txt-to-donate, ACH giving, recurring donations, and social media integration. Some church software, such as ACS Realm and others include this functionality with your membership database and will automatically record giving for donors' tax reporting.


There will be fees. Don't be scared. When someone mails a check, they're effectively paying a 50¢ 'processing fee' to get that money to you, and you pay for gas to get it to the bank.

Credit cards, debit cards and ACH transfers incur processing fees. In a business-retail sense, whenever you pay for your groceries with a card, that retailer will pay anywhere from 2% - 5% of your purchase plus a 8-30¢ flat fee per transaction, depending on the payment method.

Thankfully, nonprofits have some better options, and many processors offer discounted processing fees. Be careful though these stack up, and you losing much needed funding to fees. Here's what to look for:

Platform fees: If you choose a simpler 'Virtual Terminal' you can expect to pay between 1.5% and 3% plus a possible flat fee of a few cents per transaction. If you get a more feature-rich platform, you should expect to pay 2.2% - 5% per transaction, plus a possible flat fee per transaction PLUS a platform fee.

For example:

Paypal Nonprofit

  • 2.2% + 30¢ (35¢ for AMEX)
  • Of a single $1,000 gift, you'll get $977.70.
  • For 50 gifts totaling $1,000 you'll get $963.00.

LFCU / Prolific Partnership

Basic Package

  • ~1.5%* + $5 monthly
  • Of a single $1,000 gift, you'll get $985.
  • For 50 gifts totaling $1,000, it's still $985.

*see rate breakout below

The numbers get complicated. ACH transfers usually run about 1%, Platform fees sometimes get you a better processing fee tier, but incur monthly costs, which could be worth it if there is an option for recurring giving. 

Solutions for consideration:

(All of these use direct to bank deposit and will require the help of your treasurer, for account information, Tax EIN and other information.)

This electronic stewardship program is FREE for all that have an LCEF StewardAccount (if you don’t have one click here to open for a minimum of just $100).

Joyful Response offers one-time or recurring gifts through:

  • Church Website [FREE]
  • Mobile App [FREE]
  • Text to Give [optional at just $5 per month]

Via any of these eGiving tools, givers may elect to give through:

  • Bank Account (with one time set-up entering account and RTN number from a check)
  • Credit Card (optional: processing fees apply but donor may elect to pay them for you)

Load the Give Plus app on your phone to see how easy it is to use.

These services are professionally managed by Vanco thru an agreement with the LCEF. Click here to apply with Vanco.

Send your completed form(s) to LCEF by either:

  • Fax: 314-996-1131
  • Email:
  • Mail: Lutheran Church Extension Fund

PO Box 229009

St. Louis, MO 63122-9009

For further information or to complete your application by phone, please call the LCEF at 800-843-5233.

Several products are available, from Virtual terminal, to a brand-able smartphone app, to their full-featured GiveCloud platform. This one is targeting LCMS churches in particular because Lutheran Federal Credit Union direct a percentage of profits to ministries.They offer pretty quick turnaround ~48h for integration to your current systems. Basic Package:$5.00 Monthly Fee

  • Unlimited online Page for Website
  • In Person Mobile Payments
  • One Time and Recurring Payments

Give Cloud

  • Text to Give
  • Unlimted Online Page for Website
  • Kiosk
  • Donor Management
  • Donor Login
  • Unlimited funds
  • Unlimited Payment pages
  • Event Ticketing
  • Social Media Campaigns Track Credit, Cash and ACH

Church App

*based on average. Debit cards, comprising most regular donations process for .55%. Credit cards process at rates from 1.59% to 2.2%

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It's a nonprofit run, campaign platform. It has social media integration, customizable portal pages, and code for your webmaster to embed it right in your church's website. You'll need to setup an account with the online processor Stripe, and apply for their nonprofit rate.Fees:

  • Platform: $0
  • Credit/Debit/Apple & Android pay: 2.2% + 30¢
  • ACH: 1-1.5%


  • Integrated Donor Tracking
  • Automated Tax Receipt by Email
  • Multiple Campaigns
  • Accepts ACH via Bank Login or routing info
  • Social Media Tools
  • Recurring Giving
  • Embeddable in your website
  • Lots of support documentation
  • Supports event registration
  • Supports 'in name of' gifts


  • There's an approval process that may take a few days to get through.
  • Support by email only

One More thing...

A simple google search will reveal an endless list of companies, platforms and processors out there. Many of them will provide similar functionality, and most of them have decent rates. Some of them are a bit deceptive. Read the fine print and choose the service that has the most features your donors would use.Also, tell people. Online giving won't do you any good if nobody knows about it. When live streaming worship, mention it. A link to your online giving solution should be in a prominent (but not obnoxious) place on every page of your website. Include it in announcements. It'll give the faithful a way to help your church's mission in a world that needs it more than ever.

Trying to Give?

Contact your church to see if they support online giving already. Many churches have been accepting online giving for years. Even if your church is not set-up yet, paper checks are still a great alternative. (Just don't send cash in the mail!!)

Atlantic District Missions

Our missions and projects are always in need of your support, and now, we're busier than ever!