Make giving easy: Services, credit card readers and more

by | Jun 5, 2014 | Not In USe

By Gavin Richardson

Churches today are seeking newer and easier ways to set up giving to benefit their congregations. A common request circulates around setting up online giving. Online giving has its own set of complexities and options; however, it is becoming easier to navigate the set-up process. New options for online giving are being developed all the time.

How can you help create different alternatives to the offering plate for your church?

There are a number of options that are available to churches today. We’ve broken this down in three ways:

  • Third party service providers present the easiest learning curve, but probably larger onset costs. This is a good place to start for the church that knows they want to jump into the game and has some funds to do that.
  • Mobile card readers are the quickest way to get started and with the lowest costs, but also have a bit of a learning curve. This is good place to start for the church where you are not sure how people will respond to giving online. Use this to test the waters without much set up costs.
  • Website direct has the most complex learning curve, but can be cost effective in the long term. This is for a church that has an experienced web developer in-house or on staff that can help to navigate this set up process.

Third Party Services

In most instances, a church will make better use of their time and security by working through third party service providers.

There are many options out there for merchant service providers. If you need online giving, card readers, texting to give, or even a full sized kiosk, you have all those options available for a new type of offering plate today.

EasyTithe (https://www.easytithe.com) 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. EasyTithe’s pricing suggests (https://www.easytithe.com/pricing.htm) that they will take a transaction fee and a standing fee for various levels of their service. This is not a deal breaker, as other services have similar plans and some will have just a standing price or a percentage take per transaction. You will want to weigh the financial options between them and other services.

SecureGive (http://www.securegive.com) offers unique payment options (http://www.securegive.com/PricingStructure) to go along with their full service features. They have options of flat rate or per-transaction percentages. If you expect a large volume of giving through the various gateways, then it may make sense to pay a flat rate and save over the per-transaction fee. If you do not know the amount of giving you may take in, using the per-transaction fee makes good sense. This way you do not lose money if the online giving is not used regularly.

Giving Kiosk (http://www.givingkiosk.com) 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. The systems can cost you a minimum of $1000 to approximately $5000 for a single kiosk machine, so the onset is more than some of the online options. The data from Giving Kiosk states that the increase in giving will pay for the set up costs within a month or two of use. Similar to EasyTithe and SecureGive, Giving Kiosk has added features to provide you a website portal where members have their own login and account information.

PayPal (http://paypal.com) 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. There are options to create recurring giving, one-time gifts, and event registrations that can be listed on your church website, but route through PayPal’s secure settings.

Vanco Services (https://www.electronicdonations.com) is used by many United Methodist churches through their UMEFT partnership (United Methodist Electronic Funds Transfer (https://www.electronicdonations.com/um/index.html). 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. With this option, a $100 dollar donation would charge the donor $104.50 (approximately) so that a full $100 donation goes to the church. Many times people are willing to pay these fees for the convenience of online card giving. Vanco can also provide mobile card readers for digital devices.

Mobile Readers

Square (https://squareup.com): Square is a card reader that can attach to a phone or tablet. If your church has a wi-fi connection available, then utilizing a tablet to have at a welcome center or church office for people to give is a good starting point in online giving. You can use any tablet or phone for this process, but it is a good idea to invest in a church-owned device to avoid control and possession issues. This can allow a square connected device to be available at all times, not just when the pastor or lay leader is in the building. Square will connect the card reader and mobile device into your bank account and will only take a percentage of each transaction. A neat function of Square is the ability to recognize people through their cell phones when they come into proximity of a device. This actually allows people to give with their cell phone and not have to swipe their card.

Square is a product based service, so you may have to get creative in setting up giving levels as a buyable product as part of your set up. What we mean by that is you might have to create a ‘bronze tithe’ and assign a price value to that, say $250. This can be a very real option if you are doing a renovation or fundraising project and someone can ‘buy a chair’ or ‘gallon of paint’ as giving.

PayPal Triangle (https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader):  Once PayPal triangle is configured to a device, it is stuck with that device. So you will have to order as many Triangles as the number of devices you need. Keep in mind that you can use Square (listed above), on multiple devices. Similar to Square, the Paypal Triangle is free to order and the service will only charge about 2-3% per transaction so you avoid any onset or standing fees.

To read the rest of this article, visit UMCOM at http://www.umcom.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=mrLZJ9PFKmG&b=6084893&ct=13925969&notoc=1

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Author: DSC

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