A Complete Guide to Digital Form Builders for Churches
As a church leader, finance team member, or ministry event planner, you may be frustrated with losing paper registration forms or having to manually input duplicate information.
Online giving and registration forms are a great way to instantly collect donations, sign up for events, and obtain volunteers. Take the hassle out of event planning and receiving payments or donations by going paperless.
You can use digital forms to gather information or data and allow people to register and pay for classes or events. Plus, with an integrated church management system, the information and money received through the forms is seamlessly incorporated with your other church software—saving your staff valuable time.
In this article, we will talk about what digital forms are and why your church should use them. We’ll also share the various purposes, features, and best practices to help you get the most out of your online form builder.
What are digital forms?
A digital form is a set of fields that a person will input data or information into. It’s then electronically submitted to your church. These forms are found online and can be completed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
The form fields can include anything from an open text box to a button to a dropdown menu. It’s just like a paper form in its information gathering, but it saves time for both the user and the admin, particularly because nobody has to transfer the answers from paper to the computer because it’s done automatically!
Forms can be useful by churches for many different areas. We will get into more detail, but generally, digital forms are desirable for collecting donations, payments, and information. They also allow people to conveniently register for classes, events, or volunteer opportunities.
Why should your church use online form builders?
Digital forms are easy to use and save time for churches, and they are also a wonderful asset to help ministry run smoothly. They are beneficial because of their versatility, simplicity, and automation.
Many churches aren’t getting the most out of their forms builder because they’re only using it to create one or two forms. But you can build as many as you like. In fact, with Church Office Online, you can create an unlimited number of forms for just about anything you can imagine! You can use them to collect new guest info, register for events, submit prayer requests - and that's just a starting point! They provide flexibility in that you can also use forms for surveys, sign-ups, facility rentals, and of course, donations. So, get creative and start building more forms to engage your congregation.
The form builder is simple to use—with multiple customizations, drag and drop features, and templates. You can use a single form tool for every area of ministry, from new families in children’s ministries to registering volunteers for the next women’s brunch. Easily share all your forms on your church website or via email, text message, social media, and your mobile app. Plus, every submission can be automatically emailed to applicable staff members and is saved within your integrated church management software.
Use workflows to save time and better engage your community. Form submissions can trigger communication like a text or email. They can assign a follow-up task to a team member. Answers to a form can add an important note to a profile. Automation can help establish consistency and member care, making sure that no attendees fall through the cracks.
When we said that digital forms could be used for multiple things, we meant it! Below are just five ideas to help get you started with your form builder.
Have church and community members to register for events that your church is hosting. You can set up a limited capacity, too, so registration closes once the event is full. Send confirmation emails after people have signed up. They can use that for ticketing. If your event requires a fee, a payment button can be included directly in the event form.
With your online giving platform, a donation form can increase generosity and make it easier for donors to give. Create a digital giving form that’s embedded on your website for people to give their general tithes and offerings. Help raise funds for special projects, missions, year-end giving, or disaster relief. During the offering moment, let attendees know they can donate online, via text, or in your church app by easily filling out your digital giving form.
Gone are the days of figuring out who is serving where! Forms create an easy solution for volunteers to sign up for different opportunities. You can recruit, coordinate, and communicate with all your volunteers. In the form builder, ask for as much information as you need, such as the volunteer’s availability to serve at a specific event or service. Utilize workflows based on form submission, which allows for immediate email or text communication and assigned interactions.
Use contact forms to receive new visitor information. Save administrative time by having church members update their own contact info. Include a section on the contact form for people to digitally submit prayer requests or check off which next step is right for them.
Religious Education Classes or Tuition Payment
Forms can be used to sign up and pay for religious education classes. People can also pay for tuition. If you have Church Office Online Giving integrated with your church management software, your forms will automatically connect with your member records and keep everything updated. Administrators won’t have to enter duplicate information.
Features of Forms
There are many benefits to utilizing online forms for your church. Below are some powerful capabilities you may not know about that can help save you time and money, as well as simplify the process for users, possibly creating an increase in attendance and donations.
Produce Unique Tickets for Events
Need tickets for people to enter an event? Ticketing is fast, easy, and an included feature in Church Office Online’s forms. If enabled, registrants will receive their tickets via their confirmation email. Each will include a unique QR Code for easy check-in. They can print their confirmation code or simply bring their smart phone to the event. In the case that a registrant loses a ticket, managers will also have access to ticket information in your comprehensive Form Responses.
Allow Coverage of Processing Fees
Much of the time, people are not even aware that churches must pay processing fees in order to accept electronic payments or donations. Even more so, donors and registrants don’t know they have the option to help cover that fee. When givers or registrants become aware of the processing fee, and the option to assist in covering it, they're happy to help! Not sure how to communicate this opportunity to your donors? This Sample Script will help inform your supporters about the fee and how much it will add to their overall cost or donation.
Customize Payment Options
Forms give you control over payment options. Allow donors to contribute or pay with credit or debit cards or even e-checks. If registrants prefer to pay with cash or check, you can give them the option to "pay later.” There are multiple Payment Fields as well, that are used to collect payments differently depending on the goal of your form. Amount buttons, for example, are ideal for sponsorships or suggested amounts and contain specific dollar amounts on each button. The “user amount” field allows the giver to determine the amount they'd like to give. There are also per-item payment fields that allow you to price items and track inventory—ideal for selling church merch like books or t-shirts.
Create Responsive Forms
Conditional formatting and steps allow you to adjust your form to only show a few fields at a time and only if they're applicable. For example, if the first question they respond to is yes or no, the form would populate another question based on which response was chosen. Essentially, you have the option to "hide" any questions that aren't applicable based on the very first and only visible question. Multi-step forms increase the likelihood that your form will be completed up to 300% because those using your form aren't initially overwhelmed with so many questions.
If you need volunteers for different service times or you church is hosting a potluck, Sign-Up Slots are the way to go. Use this feature in the Church Office Online forms management system, to give people an easy way to register to serve. The form will collect the volunteer’s contact info, allow them to choose which area they prefer to serve, and provide them with all the event information.
Essentially, there will be several available “spots” to sign up for. Whether it’s to be a greeter during a weekend service or to bring potatoes to the next potluck. As people sign up for a particular slot, the number of available spots will decrease on the form.
Forms Best Practices
Your church may currently be using digital forms. But sometimes people create them to be overly complicated or overwhelming for the user and there may not be as many people filling them out as you’d hope. Below you’ll find some best practices for creating forms.
Simplify Your Forms
Less is more when it comes to forms. Many fields can actually create security issues, and they’re often intimidating to donors. It is crucial to keep online forms as simple and clean as possible by using the least amount of form fields as possible. Create forms with no more than one column. Consider using conditional formatting or multi-step fields, too, so questions only show up once a response has been given.
Keep a Logical Layout
Group common information and provide a logical progression of questions. Forms should be easy to navigate with a reasonable flow of sequence. To make forms less daunting and overwhelming, group questions into sections to help break up the form. Provide headers for the various sections, like “Contact Information” or “Personal Information.”
Provide a Recurring Giving Option
Accelerate generosity throughout the year by providing a recurring gift option on your online giving form. Recurring donors tend to give 42% more annually than those who give one-time gifts. Plus, stabilize your church budget and drive predictable financial consistency with recurring giving. You will be able to better supplement dips in giving because recurring gifts allow you to know what can be expected financially.
Optimize for Mobile
Having a mobile-friendly layout on your form will help keep donors engaged. The majority of people use their smart phones to input information, register for events, or contribute financially, so making your forms accessible from any device is a good idea. Mobile optimization will improve your donor experience and can even enhance generosity because it’s easy to give from anywhere.
Make the Form Easy to Find
Your form can be perfectly polished and mobile-optimized, but people need to be able to find it in order to give or sign up. Make your call-to-action button obvious and provide the link to your giving form in your online communications. The last thing you want to happen is for people to miss out on the opportunity to give because they can’t find where to donate. Same thing with church events; you want people to register but they need to have the link to do so.
Suggest Donation Tiers
Offer suggested donation amounts for various campaigns. Research shows that giving people options with suggested gift amounts leads to an increase in gift size. Rather than asking them to enter any dollar amount, recommend various giving levels. For example, a gift of $20 will provide a certain number of supplies for a project, $50 will feed a family, etc.
Allow Gift Assistance
Like we mentioned earlier, provide a checkbox in your donation form for users to click if they’re interested in covering the small processing fee. Many people are willing to do this, they just might not know it’s an option. It will also help save in overall costs for your church. Don’t forget to display the amount of the processing fee.
Embed on Website
You can quickly create embeddable forms directly on your church website. This will allow your organization to collect donations directly from your site without having to click multiple links or leave your page. The fewer times donors must click to reach your giving form, the more likely they will decide to contribute.
Create a Branded Form
A generic online giving form can actually deter people from giving. When a donor lands on a branded donation page, they’re more likely to give and give generously. So, make your digital donation form consistent with your church branding—customize the color scheme, messaging, and logos to match your church.
Incorporating Forms at Your Church
Accomplish more with your church software by capitalizing on custom, online forms. Church Office Online is here to support your church’s mission and serve your needs.
If you’re ready to leverage the power of Church Office Online’s form builder, contact us today to get started with your free trial.
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