Mixing Donations and Technology
Increasing ways for people to give

When I stand in line at my favorite coffee shop, I notice many people don't grab a wallet to pay anymore. Instead, they pull out a smartphone and present a phone app to the cashier to pay.

Each year, technology provides more ways to do a variety of tasks. It can be exciting, or possibly even overwhelming with the amount of change, but it's wise to take a step back and consider how and why churches may want to use these technologies.

At the annual National Association of Church Business Administration conference last week, speaker Mark Brooks urged church leaders to notice this trend, and to consider offering online platforms for giving if they haven't already.

Brian Kluth gives another reason to offer a variety of electronic giving options: "The biblical mandate is that ministers collect people's offerings, and churches and ministers need to use whatever methods are available and most helpful to empower their people to be faithful and generous givers."

In the 2013 State of the Plate, Kluth presents statistics on the variety of ways donations are given. In response to these statistics, he writes:

A growing number of people are giving electronically. Churches, ministries, and non-profits need to actively increase the ways they allow people to give. Possible examples include passing the basket/plate; provide a giving box in the back; online donations; electronic funds transfers; stock brokerage accounts; cell phones; kiosk/iPad; mail-in self-addressed envelopes; and envelopes in the pews where people can write their debit/credit card number to make a donation.

Like Kluth, Brooks and other stewardship consultants have urged churches to consider multiple platforms for collecting giving and making appeals to the people in their congregations.

Read more about Brooks' presentation in the Charlotte Observer (Brooks also recently released The Digital Church, an eBook). For more information on church giving, Increase Giving at Church includes more tips and advice from Kluth and other contributors.

Michelle Dowell is the editorial coordinator for the Church Law & Tax Group at Christianity Today.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."


Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Mark Brooks

September 20, 2013  3:08pm

I hear this kind of comment a lot. First, most if not all online companies allow you to set up giving to NOT accept credit cards. Then what we must admit is the Bible never tells us HOW to give only that we give. Some say to me that setting up automatic giving destroy the worship aspect of giving. How is that? Are you saying that worship must always take place at church? Also, just because I have my giving set up as recurring, which we do, does not mean I can not and will not give as the plate or bucket is passed. I fear we are getting more caught up in the how and not focusing upon making it easy for people to give!

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September 13, 2013  11:29am

I understand the motivation toward these options. People like convenience certainly. And some church seem hell-bent on old "increase giving" mantra. But I also see a lot not to like. I don't like the idea of using a mechanism that encourages credit card use. Too many people get into financial straights because they can't manage their credit. I never want to hear of a family in the church going bankrupt because the donated money they didn't have on credit. First fruits should preclude that, but the world rarely works as it should. Another thing that troubles me is the automation ... we are taking the act of physically tithing and turning it into something we can forget about and it just happens. It may be easy and consistent, but it's like celebrating communion of a VR game online ... it's detached and less real. I don't like that. We're giving up things I believe we should hold on to. I know we are here on this site reading these articles because we are in the role of being responsible for the finances of our churches, but I try to remind myself OFTEN that Jesus was never about money ... so don't let it ever be all about the money.

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