March 25, 2020
With the challenges we are navigating with COVID-19, churches are understandably concerned about the financial impact. It is a short-term and a long-term challenge.
In the short-term, encourage persons to mail in their offerings. Send out a special mailing to your congregants and include an already addressed return address to aid persons in getting checks in the mail. Further, many financial institutions are able to set-up a bill-pay, sending a check for you. Other persons may wish to set up an automatic giving (ACH transfer) to keep a consistent level of giving at a time. (Please talk with your banking institution for more details.)
On-line giving has existed for many years, yet the sudden onset of disruptive times elevates this opportunity for churches and donors to adapt. While some will remain “mail-in” givers, giving online will expand the ways we can choose to give. It may take a few days to get everything “just right” with the on-line giving company you choose, but it may become a vital part of your tithing now and into the future.
NOTE: Many companies offer their services to be your e-giving provider. Some offer multiple tiers of service plans (with increasing costs per tier). Some offer a set fee per transaction. In other words, read the fine print carefully about per transaction fees and costs for set-up and monthly program costs. It will be up to the church leadership to decide if the monthly fee (if any) or per transaction fee costs is an acceptable “cost of doing business”.
However the donor gives, there will be a fee assessed. For example, you can set up a donation through your bank, via what is called an ACH (aka “automatic clearing house”) or give via a debit or credit card.
Some companies we surveyed offer possibilities:
Tithe.Ly (https://get.tithe.ly) offers free set-up to customers. Uniquely, they offer a donor the option to add to their contribution an extra amount to offset the transaction fees, allowing every dollar to be given directly to the church. They list their charges per transaction (trx):
- 2.9% + $0.30 p/trx,
- ACH/Bank: 1% + $0.30 p/trx,
- AMEX: 3.5% + $0.30 p/trx.
- (Note: Certain transactions (ACH) may take longer for a first time deposit to ensure security (up to 10 days). After the first time use, the depositing will take place at a quicker rate (under 2 days). See the Tithe.ly help documents.)
Givelify (https://givelify.com) offers a plan for “places of worship” as well non-profits. They also have some integration with already existing church apps. Donations are processed the next day. They list their charges per transaction (trx):
- 2.9% + $0.30 per trx
PayPal (https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/donations) offers no monthly fee costs for all 501c3 charitable not-for-profits. Again, you can set up a page for donors to give through a website. PayPal is also used by many online retailers and ebay as a payment method.
- 2.2% + $0.30 p/trx (regardless of donor payment method)
Give Plus, part of Vanco (https://www.vancopayments.com/egiving) offers tiered fees to churches based on size. For this explanation, I am citing a church of less than 100, whose monthly tithes would be under $20,000 per month. Such a church would receive emails noting receipt of an online gift and later an email with confirming receipt. You can designate the categories for how many possible line items for people to choose from (ongoing expenses for the general fund, missions, building fund, etc.) as well as set up specific giving opportunities for special needs or offerings that have a shorter window for giving. GivePlus allows you to set up an option for donors also to cover the fees incurred by the church with each transaction. The Give Plus platform charges these fees for a 100 member or fewer church:
- 1% + $0.45 p/trx (ACH donation)
- 2.75% + $0.45 p/trx (debit or credit)
- $10 per month fee for handling donations under $20,000/month
Square (https://squareup.com/help/us/en/article/6397-use-square-as-a-nonprofit-organization) is another common app used by retailers and not-for-profits alike. Square is used by many small businesses. Note there is a slight upcharge for key-entering a card number versus “swiping” the card.
- 2.6% + no extra for credit cards
- manual entry: 3.5% + $0.15 p/trx
The above companies are highlighted for illustration purposes and do not constitute an endorsement by ABCNYS. You are responsible for reading “the fine print” and terms listed above were as of mid-March 2020, and therefore subject to change.
This content is designed to provide a brief introduction to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. “From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations.”
This publication is made possible by our churches’ financial contributions to Regional ministry through United Mission Basics, the Region Offering, the America for Christ Offering, and direct gifts to the Region.