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“We have families give exclusively online,” says Rev. Mark Tracy, who serves Clark United Methodist Church. “It is the way folks will give, more and more, in the future.”
Clark United Methodist Church in South Dakota is utilizing Vanco payment solutions for people to give electronically. Tracy says, “We have pew cards that folks can use to donate from their phones.”
The congregation investigated electronic giving solutions and did not hesitate. They “just pulled the trigger,” Tracy said. They did not face any challenges.
Fewer people today are using cash and checks for their financial transactions. As a result, churches have an opportunity to expand their giving opportunities. This is not about credit-card giving which could lead members into debt. Many companies offer “debit only” giving that eliminates this worry and presents a chance to overcome giving obstacles.
Clear Lake United Methodist Church uses Share Faith and also connects with local banks for online giving. Pastor Frank McKeehan, who serves Clark UMC says, "May of our younger members like to use electronic payments. It ia a service we can provide our members. The biggest challenge we faced was training everyone involved with finance—treasurer, secretary and the committee—about how it works."
Darby Jones, writing for United Methodist Communications, outlines several reasons churches should offer online giving options. Here are few reasons:
- Giving is a biblical mandate. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means giving of one’s self faithfully and regularly. Churches need to support a variety of ways to let this happen. Don’t be surprised if you go to a church in a developing country and find a chicken, goat or cow given as an offering. Whether it is eggs in a basket, cash in a plate or electronic funds transfer, it’s all faithfulness in God’s eyes.
- Checks are becoming outdated. Some people don’t even carry checkbooks, and cash in the offering plate is no longer tax-deductible without documentation. Do not limit people’s options when technology grants so many other options such as debit cards and Smartphone apps to transfer funds. Some churches give electronic givers a card to put in the offering plate that says they gave online, or invite them to put an empty envelope in the plate so there’s no discomfort or perception that they didn’t participate.
- Some church attendees don’t attend worship. Think about all the people serving in the nursery or who choose only to attend a Sunday school class. Again, you lose their contributions when you limit their options.
Gavin Richardson, United Methodist Communications, outlines options available for a new type of offering plate today.
- Easy Tithe allows you to integrate online giving within their giving kiosk, which are monitor or computer terminal set ups. They offer a full range of features that could fit just about any size congregation.
- Secure Give offers unique payment options to go along with their full service features. They have options of flat rate or per-transaction percentages.
- Giving Kiosk is actually a brand name to a company, though many companies in the marketplace use the term 'giving kiosk' as service options. You may place an electronic kiosk, or kiosks in the narthex, fellowship hall or anywhere in your church. Imagine a sleeker, more personable looking ATM. People are able to use their debit or credit cards to give on a weekly, recurring or event basis.
- PayPal may have the easiest set-up of any online merchant service provider. You can set up a business account for free and start taking in donations in minutes. People are becoming more and more familiar with using the services of PayPal as well, so the trust value is built in.
- Vanco Services is used by many United Methodist churches through their UMEFT partnership (United Methodist Electronic Funds Transfer). Through their service, you can develop a custom portal page (colors, logo) through which members can safely give. Vanco's pricing options are pretty straightforward. One unique feature with Vanco is the option to offset the card fees from a transaction. This set up would charge the donor the card fees as part of their donation.
Read more details about electronic giving options here.