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Stewardship Matters: FAQs about e-giving

FAQs about e-giving
By: 
Cynthia McChesney

Some frequently asked questions about church e-giving, which is more essential than ever in a time of social distancing, closed church buildings, and online worship. If you don't have online giving set up yet, don't wait any longer!

"Online Giving. What is it?"

Online giving (or e-giving) means you can accept payments for your church beyond checks and cash. A church that does not have online giving limits its parishioners to writing out a check or putting cash in the collection plate. That's it. When you have online giving enabled, people can then pay their pledge/make an additional gift with a credit card or directly from their bank account. To get started, reach out to Peter Johnson at Vanco Payments, the Diocese's preferred provider. You can reach Peter at peter.johnson@vancopayments.com or call him at 952-352-8136.

"So online giving is for credit cards?"

Yes, a church that has online giving enabled is able to accept credit card payments from parishioners and others. If you don't have online giving enabled, then someone is restricted in how they give to you, and they have to use a check or cash. Debit cards work the same way, incidentally. Another benefit to the church is that parishioners can set up recurring payments or one-time gifts, whatever they choose.

"Isn't it too expensive for a little church?"

here is a modest transaction fee associated with accepting credit card payments, essentially a merchant fee. It's the same kind of fee a local bakery or market pays whenever one of us uses a credit card to pay for something. Merchants large and teeny-tiny have realized that a transaction fee is simply a "cost of doing business," and while they may prefer to accept cash instead, they still offer their customers the option. So, no, it's not too expensive. Especially in a time of Covid 19 it's too expensive not to offer it.

"What about ACH? What is that?"

An ACH payment is essentially a payment made from one bank to another. If you have direct deposit at your work, you are receiving that money via ACH. At a church, if you are able to provide your members with the ability to pay via ACH, parishioners will be able to approve money from their bank account being transferred to the church's bank account. Like credit cards, parishioners can set up recurring payments or one-time gifts, whatever they choose.

"Our members are older. They don't want to do anything online."

Seniors use credit cards just like younger people. And offering the additional convenience of credit/debit cards and ACH doesn't affect anyone who prefers to send a check. Again, especially in these times, seniors and folks of all ages need to be able to give online.

"We looked into it before. It cost too much."

Sam Reckford, the Diocesan CFO, recently announced a new agreement with Vanco. With this new agreement, there is no monthly fee. Zero. (Note, this new agreement is eligible to any existing Vanco customers, you just need to reach out to Vanco). This means that you only pay the transaction fee when a gift is made.

"Our church is set up with Pay Pal. Is that OK? Do we need to switch?"

Pay Pal and other providers like Venmo offer your parishioners a way to pay that is beyond cash and checks, and that's the most important thing. Once things settle down, you'll probably want to take a look at Vanco too, especially given our new no monthly fee agreement.

"It's too hard. I don't know where to start."

It is not hard. It is easy. To get started reach out tto Peter Johnson at Vanco. His email is peter.johnson@vancopayments.com and the phone number is 952-352-8136. The application process takes about 15 minutes. To complete the application, you need basic information about your church, and you also need a copy of a voided check and the first page of a recent bank statement. With the competed application and those items, Vanco will take over, and before long will reach out to you to set up your payment page and help you get it up on your website, Facebook page, and other communications.