The End of the Collection Plate: How Churches Are Moving Towards Bank Cards

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 9:55pm

Many churches, Synagogues, temples and other places of worship are beginning to solicit credit card contributions through online sources, providing loyal followers with a convenient way to donate. Bank cards are an effective and safe means of collecting donations. Very few people carry cash with them these days, and it’s difficult for some to remember to visit the ATM in order to make collection plate donations. Most people make all their payments electronically, so it certainly makes sense to process donations the same way.

Automated Donating

Throughout the past 10 years, many entrepreneurs have attempted to automate the donation process. The for-profit company SecureGive has donation kiosks in churches, zoos, hospitals and Hindu temples. Ed Young is an example of a church leader who uses technology effectively in fundraising for his substantial congregation. On the side of conventional collection plate giving, there is peer pressure as a motivational tool as well as teaching charity by example, something many parents are likely to value.

A Safer Way to Donate

Another advantage of bank card donations is security. Cash from the collection plate is not traceable until it is processed by members of the church administration. There is a window of time when some or all of it can go missing, making it a much less secure way of receiving donations. FOX News recently reported the theft of $50,000 from a collection plate at the largest church in Orlando, FL. ParishPay, an online program, has assisted more than 1,000 Catholic Churches and Jewish Synagogues to set up credit card transactions and automated payments. ParishPay claims to have boosted religious donations by as much as 30 percent.

New Technology Makes Donating Convenient

The UK Daily Mail talks about why churches are installing ATM machines enabling congregation members to donate electronically. One senior bishop believes that the only way churches can keep current with technologically savvy parishioners is by investing in bank card swipe machines. A modern church may begin to allow cell phones, so that parishioners can donate by text.

Applying technology to facilitate the church-donation process is not an easy step for everyone. The Right Reverend Stephen Lowe, a retired Church of England Bishop, expressed dismay at his church’s lack of available technology for receiving contributions. No matter how difficult, churches must make the move to bank card processing because people simply do not carry cash.

An Increase in Giving

A research study by JustGiving, an organization that raises online contributions for charities, states that donations are up, but in a different way than they have been traditionally. In the past five years, there has been a 128 percent increase in donations from the over the age of 60 population. Less than 2.5 million Muslims in the U.K. donated approximately $1.6 million online between 2010 and 2011. In Sweden, where there is a nearly cashless society, churches have installed bank card readers to make it easy for people to donate.

When the majority of people do commerce without cash, it certainly makes sense for religious organizations to switch to bank cards for receipt of charitable donations. 

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