Take our bread: electronic giving on the rise at church

Could the collection plate soon be a thing of the past?

From Reuters:

Brie Hall felt awkward the first few times she passed the collection basket at her Catholic church without tossing in a donation envelope.

But it is more convenient to give her gift to God by direct debit from her checking account.

The tradition of passing the church plate might become a relic of the past, as a majority of Americans pay bills electronically and move away from using cash or writing checks.

Despite concerns about commercializing something so personal, electronic giving to churches is growing.

“You just kind of get over it … because you know you’ve donated,” said Hall, a communications manager for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

At the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, about half of the 1,600 congregants who give regular donations do so electronically, up from 20 percent four years ago.

“For some people, they’ll never change,” said its pastor, Monsignor John Enzler. “Other people find it’s a wonderful way to do their giving.”

Along with Catholic dioceses, religious organizations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have approved electronic giving as an option for their members.

Each church can decide whether to adopt the practice, available from electronic payment processing companies since the late 1990s.

Church staff are often the toughest sell, said Vijay Jeste, product manager for electronic giving for Our Sunday Visitor, a Huntington, Indiana-based maker of donation envelopes for Catholic churches, which started offering electronic payment processing in 2009.

Reluctance to pay a fee to process collections melts away as parishes “realize that this is the way to go,” Jeste said.

“This is not an option they can put off for too long,” he said.

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9 responses to “Take our bread: electronic giving on the rise at church”

  1. “ParishPay”, the service we use here at St. Frances X. Cabrini in Yucaipa, CA gives you the ability to print off small donation “stubs” that you can place in the basket, so as to avoid the appearance of not having given. My monthly gift goes two ways, separated by the service…one amount to the parish general fund, and another to the building program. It is so nice not to have to worry about it!

  2. I suspect I’m like a lot of senior citizens: I am on a fixed income that I get every month on the first of that month. On the first of each month, when I work on my monthly budget, I always have to write an actual check for my parish even though my utility bills, home and car insurance and even my car loan are taken out by debit memo. I really do not have a problem about not putting anything in the basket — my God know what I do.

  3. We have direct deposit at our parish….just like paying any other bill…Atlanta is ahead of the curve…or Marietta anyway

  4. If the options are a monthly withdrawal through ParishPay and writing a check every week, I save the expense of paying for printing 52 checks each year by using the ParishPay approach.
    My parish is in Orange County, Calif.

  5. Eectronic giving helps increase the amount donated to a parish? This is one of the things most church leaders will not admit.


    Because many people do not give when they do not attend Mass at their parish. So, whether or not you attend, the money is collected.

  6. Not liking that idea at all. I’m 22 and I am one of those people who insists on mailing in my bills, paying with cash or check when I can, etc. My dad who is 51 always gives me a bad time for being behind the times, but tangibility is important to me. It’s personal, it creates connections.

    Just promise we wont ever have debit card readers in the pews…

  7. My local Catholic Student Center, where I am an alumni and donate to has place cards in the pews, that you can put in that say “I Donated via EFT” and that way when someone sees one as they pass the basket along they may see it and realize that it is a great way to give. I find it easy and that way I give my set amount every year and it is already figured out in my budget.

  8. I perceive direct deposit to the Church as tax withholding from the paycheck. It pays the parish bills as a service but it is not giving back to God. I see stewardship as a willful practice that needs to be practiced all the time and not once a year. It is easy to forget that we are giving money to the Church. is it truly a sacrifice when we forget about it? In my case It would much easier to use direct deposit. I completely agree with Mitch when he says “tangibility is important to me. It’s personal, it creates connections”. Our relationship with God is personal, He hands his gifts to us and we could hand them back instead of telling Him the money is in the bank and my people will give it to your people. This is why I use the envelopes and not direct deposit; however, this is not a criticism to the people that use direct deposit because probably they are capable of being aware of the sacrifice and personal relationship when using that process.

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