Sanford Levings

"Hi, I’m Sanford Levings, President of MinistryCFO and author of this blog. The purpose of our blog is to share with you information and insights that we gather from working with and listening to our clients and partners, located throughout the country." read more

9 Ways to Make Donations

And the Importance of Recognizing the Slow and Certain Death of Manual Checks

In this blog, we will be discussing 9 ways a person can make a donation to your church. We’ll start with the oldest, most traditional, ways of giving and move to the new, evolving ways of giving. Finally, we’ll touch on the importance of understanding the trend that is developing right before our eyes.

  1. Cash – Most companies would kill to be paid in cash; however, that’s not the case with churches. Cash in the collection plate can’t be credited to any one donor or donors. Committed donors know that their gifts are tax deductible and therefore, some sort of transaction trail must be established in order to substantiate their donation claims. No such transaction trail will be established by dropping dollar bills in the collection plate.

  2. Manual Checks  Manual checks have been the main staple for making donations for the last century. 90% of the manual check writers drop their donations in the offering plate, while the remaining 10% snail mail their donations to the church. Manual checks are more likely to originate from the Baby Boom generation, those born between the mid 1940’s and the mid 1960’s.

  3. Pledge Cards

  4. Electronic Checks  Electronic checks come in two varieties: a) those originating via Internet banking portals and b) those originating via accounting software technology. Unlike manual checks, electronic checks can be set up to be recurring in nature, and that is obviously huge for your church.

Electronic checks are more likely to originate from the Generation X’ers (those born between the mid 1960’s to the mid 1980’s) and the Generation Y’ers (those born between the mid 1980’s and the mid 2000’s). Generation X and Generation Y are computer savvy and they are all about typing on their computer and mobile device. Any form of handwriting for them is considered sinful!

  1. Online Giving (ACH)  ACH stands for automated clearing house. An ACH transaction is simply a manual check that is electronically written over the Internet via an online giving page on your church’s website.

  2. Online Giving (Credit Cards) – Many churches offer credit card payment ability on the online giving page of their website. Other churches shy away from offering credit card payment because they don’t want to encourage the potential for incurring more personal debt.

  3. Online Giving (Debit Cards) – Credit card merchant services now incorporate debit card services. As such, if a church offers credit card payments, then they will also be offering debit card payments as well.

  4. Giving Kiosks are essentially ATM machines in reverse. Churches strategically position Giving Kiosks within their facilities, making it real easy for an attendee or member to step up to the plate to make a gift.

  5. Telephone Apps – Telephone Apps are the naturally offspring of the online giving solution, the texting craze and the rise of the smart phone. So instead of opening one’s computer and going online to make a gift, the donor simply pulls his her smart phone out of the pocket and goes to the giving app to initiate the gift. As such, a donor can make a donation at anytime during and/or or after the worship service or church event.

As previously mentioned, the younger generations, notably the Generation X’ers and the Generation Y’ers, are sophisticated computer users and as a result, they are handling all of their financial transactions electronically, via their personal computer and smart phone. Many of the X’ers and Y’ers don’t even possess manual checks!

As such, if your electronic giving is not growing, then that’s proof positive that the younger generation is not walking into your church. As a matter of fact, one doesn’t need to see a congregation in order to determine the congregation’s average age. Rather, one only needs to analyze the giving mechanisms.

The time is steadily approaching where the passing of the offering plate will be rendered obsolete.