Churches shouldn’t overlook the now unavoidable solutions towards giving that is smart, fast, and virus free
COMMENT | MICHAEL JJINGO | Change is real! Many people doubted the migrating of television programs from analogue to digital, even after appreciating the spin offs that were to follow; crystal clear pictures, better sound and others. Today, most of the church collections are analogue. Let’s not forget that the churches have been one of the most affected sectors, due to the continued COVID-19 lock down, which has kept away the believers, particularly those that were donating and fending for the church survival.
Whereas some churches have over time been desirous of using digital means to collect offertory, tithes and other donations, there have been few solutions to support them. Digital payments entail; contact and contactless Cards, Mobile Money, Bank auto standing order transfers, QR codes, and mobile apps among others. These are all simple, user friendly, and affordable options.
Before Covid 19, cash and cheques were most preferred for church fundraisings. Today, planned fundraisings should have online donation options. True, some church members find it rigorous to sign cheques or make standing order transfers into a church’s bank account. Since most members have mobile money, we can make life easier for them by encouraging mobile money or wallet led collections, with a payment portal that could be shared via WhatsApp, SMS, email or embedded in the church’s website or social media page, or the notice board.
One-time only or bullet donations are okay in churches. But digitally driven repetitive giving is better for any church. Reliable monthly donations are the backbone of a church’s income. On the other hand, an online donations portal makes monthly giving simple for the congregation and easy for the church to collect. This application eliminates paperwork and automatically registers all the donors’ data. Digitising offertory and tithes for churches is the way to go.
To achieve the benefit of accessibility, churches need a digital payment solution which has online and offline capabilities. It should cut across all the payment channels, namely, mobile money wallets, card payments and bank transfers. All these options certainly drive the convenience of access.
Before COVID-19, online offering was just a good option; now it is getting real. The Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) render cash usage a risk. Contact-free donation options eliminate virus transmission concerns that go along with cash and cheque donations. There’s no need for getting “change” from the church basket.
The most recent researches confirm that there will be adoption of these new online behaviors. The online offerings system is a necessity for the church, as well as the donors. Churches should show members that they are unwilling to receive cash.
Churches should aim at faster processing. Did you know that most online transactions process within seconds? For Generation Z users, this is attractive. This is a generation, born after the mid-1990s, grew up with smartphones in hand. They’re accustomed to fast online transactions and quick decisions. Many churches overlook this younger generation’s desire to give. And yes, the majority of members now and in the future, are teens right now. To make online options amenable to uptake, the app could be integrated with e-commerce solutions.
The online portal can be personalised for the church. Many donors come with a particular cause that God has laid on their hearts. It might be the desire to pay tithe or towards the church building project. At the same time, other donors feel called to give to the general needs of the church without earmarking for a specific purpose.
If there is one thing that church administrators spend their time on, it’s on one little task: donation collections with baskets for each activity, processing the collection and reporting. Which event did the donations come from, and who gave it? Have the donations been recorded, processed, locked away in the safe and finally taken to the bank? Has the donor been thanked? Mmmh! Some baskets or even the collections disappear. All these can be sorted by online digital processes.
Several solutions have been developed by banks and fintechs to address this need for the different demographics or kinds of people in a typical church. Some individuals do not use smartphones but still want to give digitally, while others love to use smartphones. USSD transactions is another option. Online collections handle transactions anywhere in the world and do support a 360 degree understanding of the donors’ behaviors, their preferred channels, and what they are giving for.
The writer is the General Manager of Commercial Banking at Centenary Bank.