Something for the collection plate? A card will do nicely.

Something for the collection plate? A card will do nicely. June 24, 2017

Around 40 churches in the UK will soon be equipped with handheld terminals to process card payments – up to the value of £30.
The Financial Times reports that the Church of England scheme plans to extend the the “tap and go” contactless payment system to every diocese next year.
John Preston, national stewardship officer at the Church of England, told the FT:

We’re aware that younger generations – and there are many people now who don’t carry cash – want to give in different ways. Enabling them to give in a way that suits them is something we’d like to try.

Contactless use has rocketed in the past three years, as retailers, transport providers and consumers have embraced the payment system launched in 2007. Last year £25bn was spent using contactless, according to the UK Cards Association – more than twice the £11-bn spent in the previous eight years combined.
As a result, people are carrying less cash, according to research by the Charities Aid Foundation. It found that of the two-thirds of adults who have contactless cards, more than a third carry less cash.
The church trial will test the practicalities of various methods of use, from offering the card reader as an option alongside the collection plate to installing a terminal at the back of the church as a “retiring collection”.
To save time, parishioners are likely to be asked to choose between three common donation amounts, though they can give more by selecting “other” and tapping in an amount.

The Church hopes it will boost collections from a particular group that often fails to give: those coming to a wedding or christening who attend services so seldom that they forget to bring any cash for the moment the collection plate arrives.
One potential hitch is the beautiful but impractical architecture of Britain’s Christian places of worship: ancient churches with thick stone walls are poor locations for the signals required for the system to work. Rural churches will in any case be unable to participate if they lie outside the zone of mobile coverage.
Individual churches can already use smartphone apps such as Church Suite or Lepton to allow people to make donations on a one-off or regular basis. There is nothing to stop churches setting up their own contactless systems for donations, but in practice they are put off by transaction fees or monthly terminal rental costs that eat into gift income. The Church authorities aim to use the institution’s critical mass to bring these down.
Preston said:

We need to ensure that we negotiate the best possible deal with a terminal provider.

He added that a transaction fee of no more than 2 per cent was being considered.
Due to start in the next month or two, the trial will run to the end of the year, to include Harvest festival and Christmas, two “box office” moments of the ecclesiastical calendar that will allow the system to be tested on bigger congregations as well as irregular churchgoers.

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  • Donors will also be able to specify if they want their donations to go to emergency shelters and meals for the hungry, or to lawsuits defending rapist clergy, or extravagant clergy lifestyles lived out in castles.
    Nah, of course they don’t get to specify.

  • Stephen Mynett

    “Enabling them to give in a way that suits them is something we’d like to try.”
    A better way of putting that is: “Enabling us with another way to fleece the gullible is something we’d like to try.”

  • Barry Duke

    I promise you won’t be fleeced if you hit the Freethinker “donate button”, Stephen. Every penny we receive helps keep the site afloat.

  • Bart

    Its all about the money … and power … and privilege way beyond the size of their cohort … and the opportunities ostentatious displays of humility … But I guess these days christians are starting to feel rather vulnerable to piss taking and wary of looking a bit stupid.Ridicule them at every opportunity until the day comes when its so uncool to be a christian that the pool of stupefied numpties dries up.

  • StephenJP

    The Radio 4 Saturday PM programme had a feature on this today, including an interview with the fragrant Anne Atkins, who is married (as she never ceases to remind us) to an Anglican priest. She asserted that her hubbie’s church hadn’t had a collection plate for 30 years: all the parishioners tithe by standing order. Still, she patronisingly acknowledged that such devices might enable occasional visitors to make a donation in celebration of their outstanding experience.
    Worth remembering that all the Cof E’s income, including most Sunday collections, goes on running itself, its buildings, and its serving and retired priests. And they are allowed to get away with pretending this is a charitable cause.

  • Paul

    I never understand how one of the richest organisations in this country, one of the, if not the, biggest landowners and pension fund holders can ask everyday poor people for money. Money it really doesn’t need. Or how the chancel tax worked to its benefit for it’s one property.
    Hold on. I just understoood and worked out: it’s fraud.

  • Italian Scallion

    I wouldn’t give any church the sweat of my behind.

  • 1859

    Why don’t the posting show up immediately like they used to????

  • 1859

    Barry – I’ve just donated £20 to the Freethinker – so now you have to ‘bless’ me!

  • Barry Duke

    Thanks so much 1859. Sorry about the continuing problem with the comments. We’re still trying to get to the bottom of it.

  • Paul

    I think you made a mistake employing those North Korean IT experts to help.

  • Stuart H.

    If the key target is people coming to weddings and christenings then it’s mugging by way of trying to shame people into giving. Anyone not a regular church member at those things is going to be a friend or relative, probably of another faith or not religious, just trying to do the polite thing.
    By the way, in attending such things you also contribute to the official church lies – sorry, ‘statistics’ – which excuse continued public subsidy and privilege.
    The thing is, when the C of E collected their figures based on Sunday morning attendance it showed beyond doubt attendance was plummeting. So 20 or so years ago they adopted the idea of an ‘average weekly attendance’ based on all who’d been through the doors throughout the week.
    The pretence was that as they have to offer communion daily (though the priest usually goes through the ceremony alone) then it was a fair reflection of worship patterns. But priests I’ve talked to admit they’re told by HQ to include figures from every wedding, christening, boy scouts,charity events, and even hire of the church hall for birthday parties. The funniest thing is, it still shows attendance is dropping.

  • Stephen Mynett

    Stuart, I was at a funeral where the request was for donations to a charity rather than flowers and there was a collection for it taken at the church. I noticed one of the people who work for the undertakers standing guard by the collection plate and asked him about this later one. He said it was now standard practice as they had worries before that not all the money collected was going to the nominated charity.
    I did find it hard to believe that the church would be creaming off a share on the sly.

  • Cali Ron

    BAh, Bah go the sheep on the way to their fleecing. “It’s so much more convenient to be fleeced this way, no messy cash to do with.”
    A fool and his money are soon parted!

  • barriejohn

    Itttttt pi y soMANY diffficulties psotgni comments on eth siiiite nwo!!!!!!!
    PS I’ve often had problems getting to the bottom of things myself, Barry!