Anyone who’s attended a church service is probably familiar with that moment when the music starts playing and people’s hands reach into their pockets or purses for some cash to put in the offering plate as it passes by. If you’re short on cash, it can be a little embarrassing to pass the plate on without putting in your share, even if you plan to give later.
Now picture this: instead of putting folded up bills, checks, or discreet envelopes into the collection plate, you can line up at a kiosk after worship and slide your card through the machine to give your donation to the church. Sound crazy? It’s not as nutty as you think – in fact, it’s already happening.
More and more churches across the country are accepting credit card and debit card payments and even letting members set up recurring automated payments, as companies like SecureGive, Holy Processing, and Parish Pay reach out to congregations and non-profits to help them set up systems for processing donations made with debit and credit cards.
“ATMs for Jesus”
Dr. Marty Baker, a pastor from Augusta, Georgia, is the founder of SecureGive, which has been called an “ATM for Jesus” by the Los Angeles Times. Using the tagline, “Digital Giving Made Simple,” SecureGive offers credit card kiosks, as well as online and mobile giving solutions for churches, nonprofits, and other humanitarian and philanthropic groups that want to accept donations made by debit or credit card.
SecureGive has been around since 2006 and says they have hundreds of clients and boast a customer retention rate of 97 percent, with an average donation of $175 per swipe. Credit Card Kiosks Give Church Collection Plates a Modern MakeoverAnother company, ParishPay, LLC (motto: Making it Easier to Give) was founded by a Catholic parishioner, Joe Mohen, who was looking for an easier way to donate to his church. According to the company’s website, Mohen wondered “how much money was being left on the table every year by churches across the country,” because people found it inconvenient to donate, even though they intended to do so. During the ten years it has been in business, ParishPay claims to have processed over $300,000 in donations.
Another company, ParishPay, LLC (motto: Making it Easier to Give) was founded by a Catholic parishioner, Joe Mohen, who was looking for an easier way to donate to his church. According to the company’s website, Mohen wondered “how much money was being left on the table every year by churches across the country,” because people found it inconvenient to donate, even though they intended to do so. During the ten years it has been in business, ParishPay claims to have processed over $300,000 in donations.
Other companies, like Holy Processing, are little more than glorified (if you will) credit card processors. Holy Processing is run by Capital Merchant Solutions, Inc – a subsidiary of HSBC. They do offer credit card processing for churches, but are not founded by pastors or other religious folks, like ParishPay and Secure Give are. All credit card processing companies, whether run by pastors, congregants, or banks, will take a percentage of each transaction as a processing fee – even if the payment is for charity.
Cash Back for Giving?
Most credit cards that offer cash back rewards allow customers to redeem the bonus amount as a charitable donation – Discover lets you donate your cash back bonus to the Children’s Miracle Network, among others, and Citi lets customers cash in their ThankYou points for donations to the American Red Cross or several other charities.
Now, instead of donating their cash back rewards to charity, cardholders could earn cash back for their donations. If a church accepts Discover, Chase Freedom, Citi ThankYou or another cash back credit card, then members could earn one percent cash back on their Sunday giving. Someone who is in the practice of tithing – giving ten percent of their income to the church – could get one percent back on that ten percent.
The only question would be whether to give that extra one percent back to the church, or keep it and double the award for a gift certificate to Amazon. Hmmm . . . what would Jesus do?