Churches today are faced with a growing dilemma: their members are rapidly abandoning cash and checks in favor of credit and debit cards, and the switch is changing the way they tithe.
The old ritual of passing the collection plates up and down the aisles hasn’t yet disappeared, but churches are looking for new ways to let their members give with their cards.
Enter the church kiosk, a tool that congregations can use to make gifts and offerings on church property with their cards. They can also be used for other programs, like registrations for events and fundraisers. An increased demand for church kiosks has resulted in many different options from which churches can choose — here are some things to consider when you’re shopping around for your own.
Compare costs and fees
This kind of goes without saying, but many churches focus on transaction fees and don’t look as thoroughly into other fees associated with giving kiosks. A big factor to consider is whether you’d like to lease a kiosk or buy one outright. There are pros and cons to each, of course: owning a kiosk can be useful if you’re concerned about having a monthly payment, but leasing one can be useful if you’re not sure you want to use it permanently. If you choose to buy a kiosk, see if your provider will help with any upkeep or updates or if you’ll be responsible for them yourself. Leasing a kiosk means being careful about damages beyond the average wear and tear, which is something to consider if you plan to move the kiosk regularly (or have a particularly rowdy youth group!).
You can ask your potential providers these questions to help get an idea of the true cost of a kiosk:
- Do they sell or lease kiosks exclusively, or can you do either?
- Do you have to sign a contract? How long is it?
- Does their pricing include updates and support, or do they charge extra?
- Do transaction fees change based on the amount you process?
Take a close look at your giving kiosk
Kiosks, as a general rule, should be considered with the old adage “you get what you pay for” in mind. Some kiosks are inexpensive but aren’t especially sturdy, which is something to think about when you’re choosing a unit. Different churches have different requirements for their kiosks, but it’s always good to think about the situations in which your members will be giving to your church before you choose one. Will your kiosk be in a heavily-trafficked area where it will experience wear and tear? Will it be around children or youth groups? Will it only be used on Sunday mornings, or will it need to be able to withstand the perils inherent in Wednesday night fellowship meals and spaghetti dinner fundraisers? Answering those questions will help you choose a kiosk that is strong enough to withstand your church’s normal activity level and will ensure it stays in good shape for a long time.
Think about how members will use it
Getting a giving kiosk is really exciting, especially if you’ve never let people make their gifts with a card on-site before. But before you decide on a certain kiosk, try to imagine how your members will use it.
While donation kiosks are perfect for on-site contributions, they can be used in many other situations as well. For example, your church might host a fundraising event (like an ice cream social or family fun day). With a giving kiosk handy, your congregants will have the option to give using their credit cards.
Not only will this make the process more convenient for congregants, but it will also allow you to collect donations from those who don’t have cash. Therefore, you can raise more money for your cause or project.
Understanding how congregants will use your kiosk can help you answer the following questions to determine what type of kiosk you need:
- Is it a convenient height?
- Is the interface easy to use?
- Is it portable?
- How long will it take for congregants to donate?
- How is the kiosk powered?
There are other things to consider, too. One is that your members probably use credit and debit cards from a variety of vendors. As such, you should find a kiosk that makes the giving experience unique to donating so that it’s different from other types of transactions.
Additionally, making sure that parishioners can donate using anything from an eCheck to an American Express card and beyond is important. If they give regularly, it might be worth considering a kiosk that will let them create accounts that will track their gifts for them.