Giving is an act of worship.
When people cannot attend church, how can they continue to support their congregation? This is a good question even withstanding the current situation.
In a time of social distancing, online and recurring giving provide people with many ways to give to your church.
Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR)
Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) enables people to give through an automatic monthly withdrawal from their bank account or credit card.
Congregations already on PAR can easily update the amount of their gift by contacting your congregation’s PAR coordinator or the national PAR administrator . Just remember to include the name, city, and province of your congregation or your PAR number. You can get your PAR number from your local PAR coordinator.
New PAR donors are asked to fill out the PAR authorization form indicating how much they want to give to their community of faith and how much they would like to donate to people in need and programs that matter through Presbyterians Sharing and PWS&D. Normally, in the application process, they would hand the completed authorization form, along with a voided cheque or credit card information, to the local PAR coordinator, who would then mail the information to the PAR administrator at the General Council Office.
However, with United Church of Canada staff working from home, please do not mail them to the address on the PAR form. Instead, mail them to the PAR administrator using this special address:
The United Church of Canada
8 Switzer St.
New Lowell, ON L0M 1N0
Please do not lick the envelope, but seal it with a wet sponge.
There is also an option available to forward the form and void cheque by fax. Staff have secure remote access to the fax so forms can be processed in a timely manner.
Please take all necessary security precautions with personal banking information. Do not send scanned or photographed images by e-mail because e-mail is not secure and there is sensitive financial information on the form.
Congregations are encouraged to provide as much help as possible to new PAR donors to make the sign-up process easy. Please remember to thank new PAR donors for the commitment they are making to your congregation’s ministries and mission.
If you’ve ever had to email money from your bank account to someone, you know how fast Interac e-Transfers work. E-Transfers allow you to send money to a person or business with an email address or mobile number and a bank account at a participating Canadian financial institution.
If your church has an email address that will accept e-Transfers, people who use online banking can quickly send money via email, protected by a security question. Your church can then follow up with you to provide the answer to the security question that will unlock the funds. Fees are usually about $1.50 per transaction.
Make sure your church website provides an easy and accessible way for people to donate online. If you do not yet have a donate button on the home page of your website, now is the time to add one. If you are holding virtual services, participants can give online during a time of offering. Check out our digital giving resources to help you and your congregation assess and adopt useful digital giving methods and tools.
The information below provides detailed information about CanadaHelps.org and Tithe.ly, two online giving tools, as well as a comparison of the different ways of giving.
Tithe.ly Donation Forms
Tithe.ly is a comprehensive giving platform tailor-made for churches and ministries. Tithe.ly provides churches with a suite of tools to facilitate online giving. Simply put, Tithe.ly makes it easy to provide a donation form on your church’s website. A programmed “donate” button opens a secure, easy-to-understand donation form, either on your church’s website or on the Tithe.ly website. Tithe.ly accepts donations from credit cards (and debit cards that have either the VISA debit or Debit Mastercard symbol). There is no monthly fee and the cost per transaction is competitive. To ensure that your church receives special PCC rates, Tithe.ly has created a PCC registration page: tithe.ly/rp/pcic/register
CanadaHelps.org Donation Forms
CanadaHelps.org is a highly respected and secure charitable foundation that enables donations to charities across Canada. If your church’s website does not already have a “donate” button, donors can still give to your church online by searching for your church on CanadaHelps.org. Every registered charity in Canada is listed on the site. *Having found your church, donors can donate using a credit card (or a debit card with a VISA debit or Debit Mastercard logo). CanadaHelps.org will provide the donor with a tax receipt and send the donation to your church within a month.
It is a good idea for Canadian churches to claim their fundraising account on CanadaHelps.org as the foundation reduces its fee and transfers donated funds more quickly for charities that sign up. Once your church claims their profile on CanadaHelps.org, a button can then be inserted on the church website that points to a customized CanadaHelps.org donation form (though not if you’ve decided to use Tithe.ly).
* Sometimes a donor may find it difficult to search CanadaHelps.org by name, since churches in different cities share the same name. However, if the first search fails, a donor can search by other criteria, including location.
Which is better, Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org?
Since CanadaHelps.org is a foundation, it is CanadaHelps.org that issues the tax receipt. The church merely receives the funds and, unless the church claims its account with CanadaHelps.org, the church is not even informed as to who gave the funds. On the tax receipt, the donor is considered a donor of CanadaHelps.org. This is usually not a problem for smaller churches that are happy that the tax receipting responsibilities have been delegated to CanadaHelps.org. However, your church may prefer to use Tithe.ly for the “donate” button on your church website as the donor remains your church’s donor and your church provides the tax credit receipt.
Does my website need to have special security to use donation forms?
Most church websites do not have SSL protection. Without this extra level of security, you cannot embed donation forms directly onto your church website because the forms would not be secure. To overcome this limitation, the “donate” button can be linked to a form hosted on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org. If your website does not have SSL protection, when someone clicks on your church’s “donate” button, they will be taken to your church’s form in a new secure tab/window. When the donor submits the form, that window can return the donor to your church website; so it is a good idea to create a “thank you” page on your website.
What will my church need to get started for online donations?
Here are the things needed to set-up Tithe.ly:
- Legal business name
- Charitable number (business number)
- Bank routing information for depositing gifts received (transit number, institution number, account number)
- Digital scan (.jgp) of the driver’s license or passport of one of the officers of the church (this is an anti-fraud measure implemented by Tithe.ly to ensure that a real person associated with your church has authorized the account)
- The URL and Username/Password for your church website in case you need to contact Jim MacDonald, Development Manager of Stewardship & Planned Giving, to add the button linking to the Tithe.ly form
Can I get help setting this up?
Whether you select CanadaHelps.org or Tithe.ly for the donation forms on your church website, Jim MacDonald, the Development Manager in the Stewardship & Planned Giving Department, can help you set-up your account(s) and your donation form(s). Jim will either embed the form on your secure website or program a button on your website that points to your church’s donation form on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org.
You are welcome to contact Jim MacDonald for consultation and assistance setting-up donation forms on your church’s website. Through screenshare, Jim can walk you through the entire process as you set it up together.
Encourage giving to community members most affected
Some of our most vulnerable neighbours will experience loss of wages and other unexpected implications at this time. People will want to respond, and your congregation might think about how they can support vulnerable people in the community and/or partner with organizations that are providing help. Consider starting a fund to help your congregation respond.
Pray and stay connected
As we make our way through the difficult days ahead, let us remember that we are not alone. Let us pray for one another. Reach out to one another by phone, email or video chat in case anyone might be feeling afraid or lonely. Offer to pick up groceries, prescriptions or run errands for people who are in isolation. And remember that we are a community of faith.
May the peace of Christ be with you all.
Now is the Time for Faithful Generosity – Ecumenical Stewardship Center
Stewardship in a Pandemic – Presbyterian Foundation
Stewardship in Trying Times – Disciples of Christ
COVID-19: Financial Guidance for Churches – Stewardship Services (UKET)
Financial Giving During COVID-19 – Anglican Diocese of Niagara
Online Giving Recommendations for Livestream and Video Worship – Presbyterian Foundation
How Pastors Should Talk About Giving in the Current Crisis – ChurchLeaders.com
Keys to Speaking Positively About Generosity During COVID-19 – Christianity Today
Sample Letter for Treasurers – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Ways to Transition Your Church Giving Moment & Things You Should Do When You Use Them – Ecumenical Stewardship Center
Webinars: Managing Financial Impact on Churches
These are webinars for anyone looking for wise ways to manage the financial impact the pandemic is having on congregations.
Congregational Finances During the Pandemic for Ministers
Presented by The United Church of Canada
Congregational Finances During the Pandemic for Treasurers
Presented by The United Church of Canada
Stewardship in a Time of Crisis
Presented by the Center for Faith and Giving
Grants continue to nurture and support mission and ministry. When social distancing guidelines temporarily suspended in-person programs run by Indigenous ministries within the PCC, a special grant of $25,000 helped them shift to drop-off food programs to ensure that some of the most vulnerable community members could access healthy meals and personal supplies. New innovation grants offer qualifying ministries $1,000 to develop discipleship, faith sharing and community outreach programs.
Although our international mission staff were called back to Canada, they are staying in touch with mission partners and continuing to support their work from Canada (read their updates here ). We continue to support health, education and evangelism initiatives with our international partners through grants and prayer. This assistance is needed now more than ever.
National church staff are busy working from home, helping congregations learn new programs, providing training and hosting for web meetings, offering financial advice, setting up eGiving platforms, providing emergency support to congregations, and gathering and sharing helpful materials relating to COVID-19. Many committees are experimenting with new online platforms to share learnings and make decisions, and conferences and events to equip congregations have moved online. Coaching is being offered to all congregations who need it. Staff are talking to and connecting with congregational leaders to check in and see how we can best help.
We are grateful for your faithful support and prayers during this challenging time. God is working through us. We are stronger together.
Note: If you would like someone from the PCC’s national staff to join your virtual worship service to offer a message of encouragement or share how gifts to Presbyterians Sharing are changing lives, send us an email.