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Sometimes as churches we find ourselves so focused on the next set of sermons, growing the church in number of attendees, growing the giving in the church, missions, connecting, etc that we forget the obligations of keeping our members safe both physically in body and electronically with sensitive information. It's important to remember that you have a collection of people that can be targeted by those who seek to do wrong.

There are really two ways you should be looking out for your church. Number one is physically in body. There have been church shootings and it's important to learn ways to protect your congregation. Number two is protecting your congregation's sensitive information. Information is powerful and you don't want your church members' sensitive information to fall into wrong hands. We hope you can learn some ideas on how to accomplish a safe church below!

1) Keeping Children Safe

It may seem obvious to most people to only let children leave with their parents. However, picking up kids from childrens church can be busy filled with parents rushing to pick up their kids to go to their next calendar item for the day, changed plans of parents designating someone else to grab their children, volunteers letting the children go and find their parents in the crowded church, etc. The best practices to keeping the children safe in the church is to have a child check-in system. Child Check In systems are great because they allow a parent or designated adult to check in the child and have a pick up sticker. There is no guessing involved for volunteers on whom is registered in the system as a safe adult the child can leave with. Check out Child Check-In as a Feature of Mission Pillars CRM and Church Management Systems.

2) Have an Evacuation Plan and Training

Remember how we teach and practice with our children the old familiar, 'Stop, Drop, and Roll'? The same rings true about natural disasters and shootings. Talk with your local law enforcements about having a good plan in place for a shooting or natural disaster. Create a one page step by step and train your main staff on the policy and procedure you have worked out with professionals. Have a form of communication that can be sent by text or email for cancellations of bad weather or other threats. Be prepared.

3) Keep Doors Locked

It's important to keep doors locked during services. Have a designated trustworthy adult stand near the door to check for any late comers. Have the doors open before and slightly after the services start, but no during. It's important to let your congregation know if you start this new policy so they understand when they can freely enter without having to have someone open the door for them.

4) Attend Safety Seminars

It's important that your staff is trained on body language. This is a common practice with law enforcement. If you can learn how to tell if something is not right with a person that has entered your church you can be prepared.

5) Don't Assume Be Proactive

Don't assume that your members would never or could never create a disaster. You should be proactive. Maybe you can dedicate a sermon on depression or unhealthy thoughts. Maybe you can have references, pamphlets, etc where members can get the help they need when they are facing mental instability, depression, anger, etc. It's important to give your members tools, to guide them, and provide resources. There may be members in your church battling quietly within their minds.

6) Have Cameras Outside your Building

This is a great warning that you are prepared. This is also a great way for a designated adult to view late comers or potential threats that are coming up to the door.

Protecting Your Church's Information

Now the above have been great examples of keeping your church physically safe, but what about keeping your church member's identity and information safe? Below, we have compiled a list of practices you should keep in place to keep your church member's information safe.

7) Have Secure Ways of Online Giving

This is very important because we are our virtual identity. Online giving for churches has grown which means information such as credit card numbers are being used at your church. Do you work we a secure online giving provider who is PCI compliant? Are the donation forms you are using PCI compliant? Online giving software for your church that is safe and secure is just as important as how easy the software is to use. Hackers are always looking for ways to steal unsuspecting individuals credit card numbers. Keep your donors safe by offering secure online giving for your church.

8) Allow Only who need Access, Access to Information

Very important. Not everyone that has access to your CRM, internet, records, etc. should have that access. Don't leave passwords and logins out in the open and for general use. Change up passwords every couple weeks. When an admin leaves do not allow them access to your systems. Terminate old logins. We worked with a church that had given a missionary permission to use the churches bank account to deposit funds into. In so many words that missionary took that churches information and signed them up services which cost that church hundreds in fees and this was never an agreed upon process for the missionary. The missionary had two much access to information.

It's important to make a mental note of who has access to what information and why do they have that access. Information is powerful and should be protected. Information can come in all sorts of ways such as emails, home address of church members, phone numbers, church banking, voided checks, etc.

Let's Wrap it Up

Being a church is such a great and rewarding job as you follow God's calling. No matter the size of your church you have a responsibility to keep your church safe and follow best practices. We hope the above tips have inspired you to take some steps in your church to keep your congregation safe!

Now it's your turn. Do you have any tips, suggestions, or experiences you would be willing to share? Comment below:

Posted on: 01/29/2018

We have been listening to your online giving needs and that is why we created some ways you can have forms pre-filled with recurring donation schedules and prefilled amounts! Now when a donor clicks to donate to a monthly subscription it will be pre-set to the donation cycle of monthly and/or donation amount you would like.

Go to your online giving options from your dashboard under "Display Your Badge". From there you can choose between the different donation button options to put on your website. Watch the video below to see the step by step.

Our Pre-Fill Online Giving Options to Add to the URL






Building Your Online Giving URL

For the first option you choose you will add a "?" after the link and before your first pre-filled option. After that each option you add will start with a "&". If there is already a "?" in your URL start with the "&".

So let's show you how a link could look. You will see the different sections of the link that make the link pre-set. So below we are choosing our "Link to New Page" onling giving badge. This link already has a "?" so we will start our first parameter with a "&". We will require the form to pre-set to recurring monthly, with 12 payment cycles (so one year of donation monthly), and set to an amount of 50.

Here is your basic link. Go ahead and try it out:

https://www.continuetogive.com/router/Badge/show_basic_donation_form?pageid= 4829458&onceorrecurring=Recurring&paymentcycletype=Month&donation_template_amount=50&paymentcyclecount=12

For Online Giving forms that are HTML

For HTML here are the different options you can add below to make the form pre-set. You will notice this new piece of code below has been added to the badges so go ahead and re-copy the code from your badge selection from your "Display your Badge!" in your dashboard. Then you can pre-fill the newest section that looks like the HTML code below. For this example, the badge would be pre-set to recurring monthly, no set number of cycles, a start date, and no pre-filled amount.

input type='hidden' name='onceorrecurring' value='Once' />

input type='hidden' name='paymentcycletype' value='Month' />

input type='hidden' name='paymentcyclecount' value='' />

input type='hidden' name='billing_start_date' value='2017-08-24' />

input type='hidden' name='donation_template_amount' value='' />

Online giving has never been easier than with Continue to Give! We hope you enjoy this upgrade to the system. If you have any questions please email our customer service team and we will help you edit your forms! Email Customer Service Here

Posted on: 08/28/2017

We have all had it, your donor is ready to commit and give you an online donation and then their credit card gets declined. Not only is it frustrating for you as a church, nonprofit, or missionary fundraiser, but it is also embarrassing for your donor. But don't worry we have made a list of the most common credit, debit, and ACH declined messages for online giving and fundraising websites! Here are the most common failed transaction messages, what they mean, and what the donor can do to correct them.

Declined/ General Decline/ Transaction was Declined by Card Issuer

This is a general decline. You can try the transaction one more time but it you get the same failed message the cardholder will need to call their issuing bank or the number on the back of their credit card. Once the cardholder has talked with their issuing bank and resolved the issue they can try their donations again.

Invalid Card Number

This means your card number was typed in wrong. Please try the online giving again by re-entering your card number. If this error keeps happening then the donor will have to call their credit card issuer to make sure their credit card number is still valid

Expired Card

This means your card number has expired; or you can check to make sure you typed in your expiration date correctly. (For Donors - How to manage your online giving .)

Insufficient funds

This means the card does not have the funds to cover the donation amount. The donor needs to contact their bank to add money so there is sufficient funds inside their bank account to make the donation

Account Closed

This is a failed message specifically with an ACH (online banking) transaction. This means the donor closed their bank account that they tried to donate from. Let the donor know the banking information they provided is no longer valid and they need to edit their Payment Information inside their Continue to Give account and try the donation again.

Invalid processor REFID: or Source Key not Found

This error message means your merchant account is not active or you never received an approval on your merchant account. Please contact [email protected] to resolve this with your account.

Processor Error

This means the processor is experiencing an error. Try your donation again in 10 minutes.

Invalid Message Body

This means that you have a special character that our online giving software cannot read. Please remove any special character in your billing information (most commonly seen in your name or city). Then try the donation again.

If there is a general error to make corrections to the fields please take a look at any highlighted fields you may have missed or has an unknown value.

If you as the organization want to help the donor fix the issue you can always use your virtual terminal to manage their account. Watch the video below:

If you are still having issues with a failed message please send a copy of the receipt or a screenshot of the pop up failure to [email protected] and we will assist you.

Posted on: 07/10/2017

New Feature Announcement from Continue to Give

Continue to Give offers several different mobile solutions for online giving. You may already be familiar with:

  1. Mobile Responsive Donation Buttons
  2. QR Code Scan to Donate Link
  3. Mobile Givers App
  4. Text Link Feature

Now, Continue to Give is proud to announce true Text-to-Give functionality!

How is Text to Give Different?

You may already be familiar with the existing Text to Give with link feature available with Continue to Give. For those of you who are not familiar, it allows donors to text a unique code to a central phone number which texts back a link so the donor can start giving. The donor, then completes the donation form.

Running unique identifiers through one phone number is an inexpensive way to offer mobile giving which, in turn, allows CTG to provide a mobile alternative to portal giving at no additional cost to you.

Introducing the new Text to Give functionality. With this functionality, a unique phone number is assigned to your Organization or specific fundraising project. The donor registers their phone one time at the time of their first donation. After that they can simply text an amount to donate to your organization, project, or missionary!


Getting Started

  • Login as administrator to your organization's Continue to Give account.
  • In the left pane, select the SMS option and a page of mobile options displays. Note that mobile options are grouped by project starting with the primary organization listed first.
  • Create a Text-to-Give number by entering the organization's area code and click the Search button. A list of numbers to choose from will populate.
  • Select a number of your choosing from the list.

If you have multiple projects and would like each project to have its own Text-to-Give number, repeat the steps above for each project. Each text to donate number is specific to each project and your main account.

Once the phone numbers have been selected, you pass the phone number along to your donors!


For the Donor - How it Works

First text an amount to the number you created.

The first time you will be prompted to register your phone. By making this first donation through the registration process you will donate and a profile will be created on the Continue to Give portal.

Once your phone is registered, the Continue to Give system remembers you!

Any time you wish to donate to the organization, you just text the amount of the donation and a receipt is emailed to you, a text confirmation displays, and your account is charged for the donation! Donating, tithing, and pledging just got easier!

More About Text-to-Give

Can I still split donations to multiple projects using the new Text-to-Give functionality?

No, you will only be able to make one donation at a time. Each project has a unique number and the funds will be directed based upon the phone number the donor texts to.

Does the new Text-to-Give cost extra?

Yes, for each phone number you create a $10 monthly fee is billed to your account. We recommend using Text-to-Give for high profile projects generating the donations. Text-to-Give is also great for special fundraisers and events!

If I choose not to use Text-to-Give what other Mobile Giving can I use?

You don't have to add Text-to-Give to your account. You still have access to the free Text Link feature. In addition, all account/project have the free QR code mobile option and the Giver's App as well. The Giver's App allows for quick donations to your organization through a mobile app and accommodates recurring donation setup and designated giving.

Posted on: 05/24/2017

Fear Not! Fundraising Can Be Very Rewarding

By Dan Kimball, Aplos Software

fundraising websites for a nonprofit organization or faith-based ministry can be hard. Sometimes really hard. Most of the people I know in the nonprofit world did not dream of becoming a fundraising professional. They did not want a degree in how to ask people for money to keep my job either. In fact, many people who lead or run nonprofits and churches will say how much they hate the fundraising part of their job. If you've ever felt this way, or you are currently hiding in Starbucks from your board trying to avoid this topic? take a deep breath and relax. You are not alone and you are not bad at your job if you dislike fundraising.

My fundraising journey began when I was working for a local nonprofit that focused on drug and alcohol prevention for teens. I loved working with students, I loved the mission of the organization, and I was passionate about the work we did. Then one day my boss informed us the funding we were receiving from the State of California was about to be reduced significantly and that we needed to come up with other funding sources. I felt tricked (or I got the short straw!) because they suddenly gave me the title of Development Director; a Greek word translating to 'guy who goes and asks for money.'

So, off I went to speak with service clubs, bridge groups, and women's tea parties. I basically talked to anyone who was willing to hear me speak about our nonprofit for 15 minutes to discuss the difference our nonprofit was making. A few months and an extra few pounds from the desserts later, we started to see an increase in donations from community groups and individuals. Now, I cannot say I loved fundraising at that point yet, but I really enjoyed telling our story, especially to students who felt our program was helping make them better people. At some point during this time I began to realize that fundraising was more about sharing stories than it was about asking for money. It became the fundamental core for my entire approach as a fundraising professional, long before I went to a fundraiser's conference or read a book on "Dialing for Dollars".

Fast forward to 2017, and after 21 years I have had the opportunity to work with both big and small shop, as a paid employee and as a volunteer, and not much has changed in my approach to ask for money. Sure, I have been to some excellent trainings, learned from some amazing fundraising experts, and have been blessed to have worked in jobs where my entire focus was fund development, but my overall approach has not changed all that much.

The fact is, if you identify the right people and tell the right story at the right time, almost anyone can have success in raising money for their organization - paid or volunteer.

Though there is a tax advantage in the United States for people giving to 501c3 Organizations, I have come to the conclusion that most people don't do it for the tax write-off. They seem to give because they want to make a difference, or they heard a compelling story that moved them to a place of action. If you can work with this idea in mind, I really think fundraising will become a more enjoyable part of your role, especially if you dread it. If you're one of the crazy few like myself who love this part of your job, then keep on doing what you're doing and people will naturally follow the passion and enthusiasm of your core mission.

I am reminded of a quote in an interview I read a while ago with Bethany Hamilton, the now famous surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack:

" In my first weeks at home, my family and I experienced an outpouring of aloha. For those who make Hawaii their home, aloha means much more then hello and goodbye. It goes back to the old Hawaiian traditions, and it means a mutual regard and affection of one person for another without any expectation of something in return. It means you do something from the pureness of your heart."

This is a great reminder to nonprofit and church leaders that you are approaching people to become engaged in your mission and the work you do so that they can make a difference - and not because there is something in return. People will see your heart and passion for your organization if you are authentic and tell them what a difference their partnership can make.

There are lots of excellent resources out there on fundraising strategies (and fundraising management), trends, best practices, and training materials that you can read up on. However, try and keep in mind that fundraising really is about some very simple and practical steps:

  • Go.
  • Find People.
  • Have Conversations.
  • Listen.
  • Share your heart and passion.
  • Agree on a plan that results in a measurable impact.
  • Celebrate the victories.
  • Support each other in the midst of failure.
  • Then do it again...and again... and again.

Happy Fundraising in 2017.

Do you need to start fundraising? Get started with Continue to Give!
Posted on: 04/24/2017

PCI Compliance - How it Applies to Online Giving

by Abigail Schulz

An ongoing concern for any individual completing transactions online is security. It is a regular question that is asked and it should be. You should be concerned about your transaction security. In this post, we cover security and PCI compliance of the merchant account and our online giving and fundraising website.

When a merchant account is opened, every business, even nonprofits, must take a mandatory PCI quiz. PCI stands for Payment Card Industry and is used to describe any business, or organization, that accepts credit and debit payments. In order to protect cardholder data, PCI standards were setout by Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and AMEX.

Why do I have to take a quiz as a nonprofit when Continue to Give is the online giving software?

The answer is, because you are directly involved in processing of credit and debit transactions through the use of a merchant account. The quiz is mostly educational and it informs your processor that you understand how to protect card data. Examples of quiz items that pertain to you directly are, not to write down anyone's full credit card number, or how to dispose of any card data properly. Since the quiz is very general in nature and is intended for businesses as well as nonprofits, some of the questions may not pertain to you, but rather your online giving provider or "vendor" Continue to Give. When answering these questions your default will be that Continue to Give's online giving software is PCI compliant and undergoes regular testing. Quiz assistance is available for Clearent merchant account customers at Clearent's PCI Help Line 855-864-1732.

Is Continue to Give PCI Compliant?

Your Online Giving Software, by Continue to Give, is PCI compliant (Yes! We take the quiz annually too!) and undergoes regular scans setup by TrustWave and SiteLockSecure. All card data is encrypted during the donation process per regulations. Churches and nonprofits do not store any of this data on their own servers which is a benefit of using an online giving platform. Donors can select the TrustWave and SiteLockSecure icons located at the bottom of your Donation page hosted on Continue to Give for information concerning our certified status.

How often do I need to take this quiz and what if I choose not to?

The quiz must be taken at the time your merchant account is setup and then annually for as long as you maintain the account. You will receive email reminders about the quiz with links to access it. If you do not take the quiz there will be a non-compliance fee billed monthly until you take the quiz. To avoid fees, simply complete the quiz when you receive the first reminder. At any time, you can verify your status by logging into the Clearent Compass portal and selecting 'Data Guardian' on the left. Instructions for accessing the portal are listed below. Your portal login is sent to you after initial approval of your merchant account. As soon as you receive the email with your user ID and password for Clearent's online system, Compass, visit www.clearent.com. If the questionnaire is successfully completed within your first two weeks of processing with Clearent, you avoid being charged a monthly fee. However, if you miss the deadline, the fee will be withdrawn from your account until it is completed.

DataGuardian, the PCI with Clearent, includes easy-to-understand self assessment questionnaires for your online giving, network scanning tools to help regularly monitor and protect your organization, a $100,000 Data Breach Protection policy, and valuable educational resources. Learn more at www.clearent.com/DataGuardian.

To access the Clearent-DataGuardian portal:

  1. Go to www.clearent.com
  2. Login by selecting Client Login in the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Select the DataGuardian button on the left side of the page.
  4. Click on the Get Started button to begin.
  5. Verify the contact information on file for your business.
  6. Use the Questionnaire Selection Wizard to find and complete the questionnaire that is most appropriate for your organization. After completing, your compliance status displays immediately.
  7. Schedule any required scans.
  8. Review and electronically sign the certification.

Need More Information?

If you have questions about completing the questionnaire please contact the Clearent Customer Support team at 855-864-1732 or [email protected]

Posted on: 04/04/2017
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