I was recently reading through a congregation’s annual report (hey, I’m a seminary professor, what else do we do for fun?) and I noted the report broke down five different methods of giving: electronic, giving kiosk, plate offerings, non-cash stock gifts, and “bill pay” automatic checks. Twenty years ago, only a few of these existed at all. Today, there’s even more! Some congregations have had great success with text-to-give options. Today’s article by Pastor Durk Peterson helpfully explains how his congregation welcomed an iPad Giving Station. It’s a great story — plus, he sent pictures!
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
iPad Giving Stations: Increase Your Congregation’s Engagement in Giving
Pastor Durk K. Peterson
“It’s about time!” gushed one of Cross Lutheran’s members last May when we launched an iPad giving station. That first Sunday morning she stepped right up to the raised round table in the church entrance, pulled out her credit card, entered her information, swiped her card, received her giving receipt by email, and made her way into church for worship.
In the spring of 2015 our stewardship team discussed the idea of providing a new way of giving financial offerings at Cross, in addition to check, cash, and automatic withdrawal. We researched several church giving station companies that offered a wide variety of services from online giving, to giving by text, to iPad giving. We discovered monthly fees ranging from $50-$150 per month for these services.
One Sunday morning over coffee (of course!) I shared this stewardship team idea to Cross member, Jason Fouks, who is our technology volunteer. His face lit up as he suggested we set up an iPad with a swipe feature utilizing PayPal for all transactions.
On the first Sunday in May of 2015 Jason set up a feed from the iPad to the screen in front of our church so that I could conduct a live demonstration of giving on an iPad as an introduction to the offering time. As I stood up front holding the iPad I took out my credit card and with a large “liturgical credit card swiping gesture” made my financial offering in full view of the congregation. No gasps, but smiles broke out across the congregation.
During the first year we discovered a great benefit of this giving method — the ability to create categories for giving such memorials, youth mission trip fundraising, and Capital Appeal, building fund, and general fund. These categories can be easily adjusted on a daily or weekly basis by the office.
Here are a few questions we’ve addressed in the last year:
- So, how secure is this method of giving? Our response is that the set-up with PayPal provides solid security. Once a financial donation is made the church office administrator receives notification. She then makes a monthly transfer of from our PayPal account to our general account.
- How are transactions recorded? Once a contribution is made by someone swiping their credit/debit card, the church office receives and records each transaction. The giving amount is then recorded on the member’s giving record.
- How much does it cost to set up an iPad station? The total cost to get up and running was around $600 that covered the iPad, safety case, and swiping mechanism. Most importantly, we pay no monthly or annual fee paid to an outside giving kiosk. The only cost to the church is a 2% fee on each transaction.
- Has our overall giving increased as a result of the iPad station? We have not conducted an analysis of individual giving to see if members are increasing their giving and what method they utilized. We will be conducting an analysis of individual giving patterns this fall. We do know that during the last 12 months about 8% of our general giving came from the members using the iPad giving station. Our plan is for this percentage to increase as people become more familiar and comfortable giving in this way at church each week.
- Any surprises? Yes, we’ve found that a majority of the gifts given by the iPad station are for designated causes, programs, memorials, etc.
As a pastor committed to challenging my congregation and growing giving of financial offerings, I heartily recommend every church, regardless of size, to check out this new way of giving offerings.
Pastor Durk Peterson serves as pastor of Cross Lutheran Church (ELCA), Roberts WI. He also writes, “If you and your church would like to explore this additional method of giving, please contact me at 612-702-5509 or Pastor@robertscrosslutheran.com.”
Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising: Luther Seminary, in partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, is hosting a four-day intensive course, October 17-20, 2016. For more information visit:www.luthersem.edu/ECRF.
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