Why We Built Planning Center Giving

Planning Center Giving is a comprehensive donation management system built specifically for churches.

The problem to solve: most churches use multiple systems

At Planning Center, we build applications for growing churches. Two important aspects of a growing church are healthy finances and committed donors who share a desire to support its mission and long-term goals. Many of us at Planning Center have been on staff at a church, served our various churches in some capacity, or attended churches (both large and small). When it comes to donating, we've seen how frustrating some donation systems can be. On the administrative side, we understand how hard it can be to set up a flexible, scaleable system for donors. 

Many churches we've talked to have multiple donation systems for different types of giving methods.

  • Checks and cash: Most church management systems have a process for collecting and counting physical donations. For the vast majority of churches, 20-50% of their donations still come in these formats. There are various reasons for this, but one thing is certain- physical donations aren't dying off at a rate that's fast enough to consider moving to a system that only supports all-digital payment methods.
  • Credit/debit cards and ACH: Through the years, online donations have become more popular so churches have turned to one of the many services that specialize in online giving. That means another list of donors to manage and another system to pay for.
  • Text giving: With the rise of Text-to-Give donating, it's not uncommon to see a third giving system implemented. 

There are a couple problems that can come with using multiple donation systems.

First, it can be hard on your staff. Bouncing between systems takes time. It's more prone to errors and it's hard to keep track of the ways each system is different, which makes it hard to train new staff members. When it comes time for annual statements, it's a massive effort to merge donor records, check for errors, and get them delivered. When your bookkeeper(s) are working longer and making more errors, there's a very real labor cost to your church. The more donations come in, the worse it gets. With multiple systems, there's also a higher subscription cost. 

Secondly, it can be bad for donors. Having multiple donation systems means different logins and on-boarding processes. When the process is time consuming, people tend to give up. People want to give, and they want to do it when they're inspired. A fractured donation experience is a bad reason to push donors away.

Planning Center Giving is single donation platform

We built Giving to be a unified donation system. Donors can give via credit card, check, cash, ACH and using Text-to-Give. They can do it online or in person and both can be done privately or through the help of an administrator.

For your staff, there's a single dashboard that provides a better level of insight to equip your leadership to make better decisions.

It's also easier to keep good records for each of your donors. When their contact info or personal stats are updated, your other Planning Center apps will keep those changes in sync. 

Design matters

When we asked donors and church admins what they really wanted in a donation system, we heard recurring themes. We want a simple interface where great design is a core feature. While you're at it, give us something stable that is being updated frequently with useful new features. Oh, and though we want it to be easy for us, we also need it to be extremely simple and beautiful for our users.

Those desires align perfectly with our concept of great software, so we're embracing them with open arms. With Giving, we're striving to provide a great experience whether you're a bookkeeper or a donor.

There's more to come

We care about our customers and our products. It's in our DNA as a company. What you see here in Giving is just the beginning. There's a roadmap of features we have in queue, and we have full time programmers and designers working on Planning Center Giving.

We're crazy about our support as well. If you don't believe us, find a Planning Center customer and just ask (it's not hard - over 90 of the largest churches in US and thousands of other churches around the world use our apps). If you have any trouble using Giving, or if you think something could be better, please let us know. Just click the ? in the app, top right.

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