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Stewardship: putting an electronic giving kiosk in church

Stewardship: putting an electronic giving kiosk in church

St David’s in Austin offers church members and visitors electronic banking as checkbooks and cash disappear. Episcopal News Service reports:

In a day when we use our bank cards for everything from putting money in the parking meter to buying a car, St. David’s in Austin couldn’t help but feel the pinch when an age-old tradition started feeling, well, too age-old.

“When we added up the numbers, it was startling,” said Parish Administrator Terry Nathan. “Our plate offerings dropped 50 percent in the past two years. It’s clear that passing the plate through the pews is as outdated as the proverbial buggy whip. Our parishioners have quit using currency as their primary means of doing commerce, and the proverbial checkbook has all but disappeared.”

In August, St. David’s took online giving a step further and unveiled an electronic Giving Kiosk. Placed in the church’s lobby, the Giving Kiosk allows a parishioner or visitor to make an offering despite not having cash or a checkbook. The first time someone uses the kiosk, they are asked to enter their phone number, name and address. (They have the option of skipping this step if they wish to donate anonymously but, if not, their donation can be linked with their giving record.) With the swipe of their bank card, users are prompted to select the giving category and the amount. Receipts are sent via e-mail.


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C. Wingate

I was at a Lutheran church recently where they had such votive cards bearing a QR code which would take your smartphone directly to the parish’s on-line giving webpage.

Vicki Zust

We have several people who have set up automatic giving for their pledge – either direct debit or the bank writes the church a paper check.

We have a basket in the back of the church with laminated business card sized cards that say “My gift comes automatically”

The folk who want to pick up one of those cards and put it in the plate when it is passed – then the counters return them to the basket to be used next week.

Matthew Buterbaugh+

Ann, I like that idea. I’ve certainly done that for special services (Evensong, Lessons and Carols, Good Friday, etc.), but never for Sunday morning. It still allows for the symbol of giving of oneself without it becoming an odd moment of begging in the midst of the liturgy. I would think, especially if pledges ever moved to more than 50% electronic, it may be a good way to manage it. I wonder how congregations would receive the idea.

Ann Fontaine

I never thought passing the plate was a good idea. It is symbolic of giving of our lives and having them blessed but mostly evoked guilt or last minute fumbling.

A church I served had the plate available where people walked into the nave – that was brought up with the bread and wine. I noticed that by “salting” the plate with a $20 – we received more cash than usual.

Matthew Buterbaugh+

My parish as well as a number of others do have an option to give using a credit card on our parish website. When I was in the Diocese of New Jersey, there was talk of doing exactly what Vicki is suggesting: the diocese setting up a credit card service. I don’t know whether it ever got implemented, though.

The only downside is that come time for passing the plate, there’s a bit of a shame factor around not putting anything in. Do you put in a credit card slip, an empty envelope, nothing? Is passing the plate still a liturgical act that has relevance?

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