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Discussion on Plate Giving and Collections

This is the start of a discussion about how we might make donations on the Collection Plate a little less difficult and a lot more efficient. It also starts to raise the frequent questions about how much we give and why for everyone. This is not meant to be the final word, but some groundwork to help us discuss it.

Why change Collections?

It is important that we regularly reflect on our giving, and make giving as easy as possible for people, many of whom might not regularly come to Church and are intimidated by the traditional passing of the plate at the Offertory.

“I don’t carry cash anymore”

common comment by many people, not just young people

When an Offertory is announced and the plate appears, many are embarrassed and/or flustered: the hand dives into the purse or trouser pockert and a collection of loose schrapnel – including recently polo mints, sweet wrappers, 1 Euro Coins and a rndom collection of pennies almost not worth counting up. If people had more time, more preparation and more creative ways to give, then they might give more generously.

SumUp Card Reader

Our experiments with the card machines (the giving machine) have been fruitful, especially from those whom we might not see frequently, and this has been much more generous. At baptisms i has long been my practice to take a collection at the end, and this has resulted in better amounts received. I am now wondering if this should not be adopted across all out churches.

The single best method of regular giving

is directly through your bank via a Standing Order. It is easily setup, not affected by your Church attendance and easily gift-aidable. It also means that the Church Treasurers do not have to handle large amounts of cash which are proving increasingly more difficult to bank as branches close and banks demand full bags of ready-counted coins. All collections should be banked in order to maintain a proper audit trail so it is not practical or ethical to keep the cash unbanked.

What prevents people from moving to direct giving (despite making cards available for this) is the social pressure of being seen ‘not putting anything on the plate’. That doesn’t matter, because giving is a matter between you and God, not dependent upon what other people think (remember the story of the Widow’s Mite).

If the Church was to receive your regular offering directly, then it would make planning, budgeting and paying bills much easier because there is not so much of a “cashflow” problem.

Most people pay the majority of their bills using a mixture of Direct Debit (initiated by the Company) and Standing order (initiated and entirely controlled by you) and so this becomes just another one for you. It also makes it easier for you as you don’t have to find money for the envelope each week – given that the number of cashpoints are diminishing, few are local and cash is less commonly carried by everyone.

Please consider moving to Direct Giving – the Treasurer will happily provide you with details and help to make this happen.

However, if you wish to remain giving by planned giving envelope, we thank you for your kindness and will continue to support that form of giving along the donations from irregular/infrequent/new members of the congregation.

Arguments for a ‘Retiring Collection’ (ie at the end)

  • If the Collection is signalled during the Service, and people are pointed to the plate and the giving machine then they have time to find cash, or make the choice to give by card
  • There is no pressure to “put something on the plate” or risk fear of judgement if you pass the plate on. Some people might not be able to afford to give, some give very generously by the best method possible: directly through their bank. No one sees what you are doing, whether you drop a planned giving envelope in, cash, make a card donation or leave it.
  • Sidespersons are free to help welcome and settle the congregation and not be the bailiffs or rent collectors.
  • Offertory is focused upon the gifts of bread and wine and not the cold hard cash.

Arguments against a ‘Retiring Collection’ (ie at the end)

  • Someone can easily ‘forget’ to give and choose not to do so.
  • It relegates giving to an afterthought, not one of the key Christian responsibilities of Stewardship. The donations might not get blessed by the Priest.
  • It might distract from the Coffee and Fellowship times, especially if someone needs help with the giving machine.
  • There might be problems with the Giving Machine and we might not get any money that way.

“We don’t know how to use the Giving Machine”

At the moment we have one complete Giving Machine status, which in this pilot phase has been moved around. However, we have two complete tablet and card reader sets (one the giving machine, another spare). There are also Card Readers for each Church and a spare.

The donations are taken via an App – GiveALittle which can run on any Android or Apple Device and connects to the card reader by bluetooth. S. Cecilia can access the School WiFi and another SIM-card based tablet might need to be obtained for S. Anne. Alternatively, members of the congregation might allow us to put the App on their phone, logged into our account and able to take donations that way. However we do this, we are happy to provide training for people to use/help others use the machine.

Such Training will be necessary whether we move to a Retiring Collection or not, because we will still need to make this form of giving available for people at the beginning and/or at the end of a Service regardless of what we do with the plate: this form of giving will not be going away.

Full Instructions on Setup of the Reader (a little more advanced but unlikely to be needed)

Where next?

This is a discussion. It has not been decided, but I hope this will start a discussion in the Parishes. At the same time we need to reflect on our own giving. The costs of running and maintaining our beautiful churches continue to rise, and giving needs to match that. If we are to grow the Church, then we must invest in mission and actively seek growth. This does not come to us cost-free. Please consider both the method and amount you are giving to your church regularly and consider upping it if you possibly can.