Synagogues fall behind in shnorring technology? Tell me it ain't so!

The Bergen Record reports that churches have devised a way to get members to sign up for weekly charges to their credit cards. That helps them when there is a snow day and people can't show up and put actual money in the plate.

What about shuls? Why not get in on this? The auto-debiting pushke could be yet another device for incessant institutional fundraising.

Here is part of the story, "Churches try out an electronic alternative to the collection plate":

Three years ago, a snowstorm blanketed Upper Saddle River from Saturday evening through Sunday. The Church of the Presentation paid to have its parking lot plowed and its walkways shoveled, but attendance at Mass that Sunday was light.

As a result, the weekly collection netted about $4,000 instead of the usual $20,000. The next weekend things were back to normal, including the collection. But the $16,000 deficit was never recouped.

Soon afterward, the church became the first in the Archdiocese of Newark to offer a new donation option: the electronic ParishPay. Those who sign up decide how much they wish to give each week for a year, and that amount is automatically charged to their credit card. The church pays the Chicago-based service $1 plus 1 percent of each monthly donation.

"Initially, people used to show their gratitude [to the church] with crops or livestock, then with checks, and electronic pay seemed to be the next logical step," said the Rev. Larry Evans, who learned of ParishPay during a trip to Chicago and persuaded Presentation to give it a try.

Although just 250 members -- or about 10 percent of active parishioners -- use ParishPay to date, the church has deemed the experiment a success.

"It costs us $15 per [collection] envelope, and that's money down the drain," said Evans, who's now looking to introduce ParishPay at his new church in Jersey City. "So even at 1 to 2 percent we're still saving money off sending envelopes."

Even better, most participants increased their giving. ParishPay and its ChurchGiving subsidiary, which serve 2,200 churches of nine different denominations, report that donations go up an average of 128 percent when done automatically.

"In today's society, people are away from their home church more than they were 30 or 40 years ago," said ParishPay president Tim Dockery, formerly director of development for the Archdiocese of Chicago. "Many don't think to make up or plan for the gifts they would have given to their church that week."

There is a Baha'i temple on the roster, but no synagogues, Dockery explained, because Jewish houses of worship don't make weekly or monthly collections. They normally fund overhead expenses through an annual appeal and/or membership dues at the High Holidays.

1 comment:

Gil Student said...

One of the shuls I belong to asked members to automatically donate a certain amount every month through their credit card.