Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Some surprises about trends in check usage; Online Giving grows in SC

Trends in Check Usage

Most of the data we have seen over the past decade indicates the tremendous move toward electronic banking and non-cash payments.  Check usage moved from the primary payment method to less than one quarter of all transactions between 2001 and 2009.  The Federal Reserve Payments Study from 2010 indicates that ACH and Debit Card transactions increased through 2009:

Another report published by Nilson indicates that checks may stay around for a while!  Consider the following:  Consumers prefer checks 4 to 1 over debit cards.  72% of consumers believe that their check use will increase or stay the same over the next year.  88% of the population has a checking account while about 50% have a credit card or debit card account.

So what does this mean for parishes? It means we have to plan for some parishioners to use electronic contributions and some to use checks with offering envelopes.  The significant movement toward electronic banking has already happened and will continue to be true.  Parishes should offer an electronic option. Systems such as Online Giving from OSV make ACH withdrawal (also known as electronic check) very simple and flexible.   If your parish tries to move exclusively to electronic contributions it is possible you would disenfranchise some of your parishioners who would prefer to place a check in their offering envelope.  So offer both and make it easy for everyone!

Online Giving in SC

We were able to talk with representatives from parishes across the Atlanta province at the regional stewardship conference in Charleston, SC.  The event was a wonderful opportunity to refresh our focus on our journey to discipleship.  It was also an opportunity to hear challenges and successes from pastors and parish staff.  There were a number of parishes who are seeing strong growth in their implementation of Online Giving.   Representatives from St. Benedict in Mount Pleasant said they implemented Online Giving about 18 months ago and they now have 35% of parishioners using the system.  St. Benedict and several others made it a point to have the link to Online Giving prominently displayed on their website,  announced that it was available,  and the growth and use happened on its own after that.  We also hear that the new revisions to the Online Giving communications materials has resulted in increased use of the system.

Let us know what is happening at your parish!