by John Handley
These days, some sort of electronic giving for their members is being used by most congregations in our synod. If your congregation hasn’t picked up on this tool to assist givers, now is a good time to look at it as you plan for next year. If your congregation has been using the same system for many years, it might be a good idea to compare your service with others to see if it is still the best service for you.
A primer from the ELCA is available with an overview about online giving. It includes a discussion of different kinds of online giving services and tools to compare the costs associated with them. Go to the Information Technology section of elca.org to review and download both:
- “Online Giving Option” guide, and an
- “Online Giving Vendor Comparison” spreadsheet.
In the synod office, our experience is that online giving is a time- and cost-saver for both congregations and our synod office personnel. About 20% of our congregations use the Vanco-provided tools that integrate with the synod’s Web site* to provide a direct path to giving. Another 20% of our congregations use their own online bill pay system to send payments to us.
The costs for bank-to-bank transfers are quite reasonable and are less than the cost of the first-class stamp that was used to mail a check to the synod office.
Be careful in the acceptance of credit cards in online giving systems, though. Costs for credit card transactions can run as high as 5% of the transaction amount. This cost can mount as the dollar amount of donations and payments increases. In the synod office, we encourage our donors to use bank transfers to reduce the cost of the payment process.
*Sample by selecting “Online Financial Transactions” under “For Congregations” tab on top right of this page.