Cash, We Will Miss Thee

In my work with our area Lutheran schools I often note that I am nearly 50 years old and I don’t have a checkbook anymore; regardless of the fact that my Wells Fargo account turned into Flagstar in 2019 and I didn’t bother to order any checks, I still haven’t had much use for checks in several years. I find myself using a debit card whenever possible.

According to a Fed­eral Re­serve sur­vey in Oc­to­ber 2017, cash only rep­re­sented 30% of all trans­ac­tions, and that percentage has probably decreased since then.

Therefore, I write to you today- every school and church needs to have a way for members, guests, alumni, and donors to use debit cards. Must. Have-to. Gotta.

Many times I will hear leadership note that bank card fees are too high. Good or bad, usage of bank cards are are here to stay, and perhaps, going forward, should be considered a regular cost of doing business. The increased volume of donations, and the potential higher gift per transaction should more than compensate for the added costs. And, if you look at monthly automatic giving, the benefit of having regular, reoccurring support should be well worth the effort. If the added costs are still an issue, organizations could even consider giving donors the option to cover the card fees during the donation process. I’ve seen it work.

Don’t get me wrong, I love real money; I’ve been collecting unique nickels, $2 bills, and the like since my first lawn mowing job, but I don’t use those items to donate. And neither may the majority of current and future donors.

Our churches and schools need to be ready to receive donations when donors are ready to make the gifts, whether its autopay every month from their checking accounts, going online while watching Netflix, or having a card with a QR Code in the sleeve on the back of the pew so that guests without cash can scan and make a gift during the offering hymns.

Of course, those who write checks will continue to do so and the offering plate can continue to have a role to play. But those who have to find their checkbook, search for an envelope, and then stop at the store for a stamp, may not. Relying on the cash in someone’s pocketbook may not be the best plan going forward; even the Salvation Army has card readers on some of their kettles now.

As always, if your church or school needs assistance finding the best online acceptance options, email me at jond@tlspartnership.org, call us at 260-203-4500, or use the QR code here (hold your smartphone camera over the image).