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Whitepaper: A Parish Perspective

WeShare: Online Donation and Event Management

Whitepaper: A Parish PerspectiveWhen my wife and I first moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, we explored the area for the best homegrown eateries so that we could stay nourished, since we were still young and not regularly eating “home-cooked” meals. There was one place, Tex & Shirley’s, that people said was the best for breakfast. Our first visit there filled our heads with the smells of awesome pancakes, waffles, and bacon, and our bellies with the source of those olfactory delights.

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We had a great experience in a new hometown and a great hometown establishment. But then we had to pay. “CASH ONLY / NO CREDIT CARDS,” was the sign that stared at us like we should have known better. Luckily, we had some cash in the car, since we were more prone to carry only debit cards. As much as we loved the experience, it would be several years before we went back. There were no hard feelings. It was just easier to go somewhere else that accepted plastic. It was the way we were wired and no buttermilk pancake was going to change that.

A Credit Card Merchant Account is an entry point into the credit card processing network that allows a church to directly accept payments via credit cards. The keyword here is directly. Some solutions allow you to accept credit card payments indirectly. The most common example that you’re probably familiar with is PayPal. PayPal isn’t really an online donation system, but many churches try and use it as such. PayPal, as well as some online giving solutions, serves as an aggregator of funds, using their merchant account to process your payments. After they’ve confirmed that they’ve successfully received the funds, PayPal then sends the money to you. See below for a list of the most popular online giving solutions and whether or not they act as aggregators of funds or require a merchant account.

The process to acquire a credit card merchant account is somewhere in between opening up a bank account and applying for a loan. This is because with a merchant account you’re really doing both. Merchant accounts act as a conduit between someone paying with a credit card and your bank. The application process has an underwriting component to it, as credit card purchases are really loans that have a degree of risk associated with them. With a merchant account, this risk, as well as any data privacy issues and concerns of fraud, becomes yours to manage.

There are distinct pros and cons to having your own merchant account, but there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to understand these pros and cons and make an informed decision.

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The Church and Engagement

The Church is much more than a Tex & Shirley’s and it certainly promises us something much more nourishing than breakfast foods. But what we call “the Church” with a big “C” is made up of many “churches” with a little “c.” Gone are the days when you grew up within the boundaries of a particular parish and you simply attended there without much question. Just like looking for one’s new favorite restaurants in a new city or town, new transplants look for the best new church community for themselves and their families.

These days we are talking more about engagement and how those who are most actively engaged in a worshipping community not only tend to stay in that community long-term, they also give more of themselves both in time and treasure. The evangelizing church must provide clear paths to engagement that have some resemblance to the other spheres of societal life. This is certainly true in the area of financial giving.

Online giving for faith communities, in many ways, has become the “final frontier” in a society that is completely technology-driven. Our bank accounts are accessed online. We receive paperless statements for our credit cards. Our utilities are either paid online or set up for automatic payments. Even our paychecks are direct deposit. Yet many of us cannot give our churches a contribution online. What does this say to those in a technology-driven society who may already be questioning the relevance of faith in their lives?

My Experience

My parish, Saint Pius X in Greensboro, North Carolina, started offering online giving for weekly contributions a little over two years ago. An account was set up with a provider and a link was placed on our website. We made sure the link was large and noticeable and the word was sent out to the community by mail, in the bulletin, and in Mass announcements. The stage was set and then we waited.

First, the initial pioneers made donations, rushing to technology just because they could. Then as the weeks went by the percentage of the weekly collection attributed to online donations grew steadily. Now, on any given weekend, that percentage can be as much as 35%. Does this make us feel that the move was a success? How it WorksDoes the fact that when certain parishioners are at the beach or in the mountains for vacation that they still make a financial contribution make us feel successful? How about the person who gave a bit more to a campaign because they got frequent flyer miles on their credit card? Or maybe we know we made the right decision when the person who never carries a checkbook and had no cash when at Mass goes home and makes an online contribution?

In the fall of 2012, we began offering registration for formational programs through a different online donation program, WeShare, an online giving product from Liturgical Publications Inc. Parishioners could register and pay for that program by bank account, credit, or debit card. It was easy to set up each program offering online. Our other online donation program did not allow for the creation of forms or event registration—thus necessitating the investigation of another option. Again, the word was sent out by all means necessary. This time the reaction was not subtle in the least. Our fees are not large for formational programs, ranging from $15 to $50. However, that fall we received $27,000 through WeShare for program fees alone!

In addition to the ability to register and pay in the privacy of your own home, at some registration tables we set up laptop computers along with traditional paper registration. There will always be those renegades who will turn towards the pen and paper, however, most were overjoyed to be able to register and pay online. Several, after filling out paper forms, still chose to pay online. And yes, the phrase “it’s about time” was heard more than a few times.

You see, our parish had stopped asking people to adjust to our way of doing things. Instead, we entered into their world and showed them we could adapt to them. The principles of good stewardship and the new evangelization certainly are addressed in this reality. Your parish may or may not be offering online giving or registration options to your members but the question is the same: are we meeting our members in their world or expecting them to hold back in old ways just because it’s easier for us? Is that what’s best for our parishioners and what’s best for us, if we truly want to help our Church become a community of true stewards?”

Taking Evangelization to the Streets
The Teachings on Stewardship

In the USCCB pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, the US bishops write that we are called to be mature disciples who respond to Christ’s call regardless of what it may cost us. As Church, we are called to provide avenues where disciples may mature and where they have the opportunity to respond to God’s call. That means we must walk on those roads they are traveling and we must offer assistance that makes sense to them. Online giving is important not because it puts more in a collection, but because it gives a clear and easy way for a steward to respond.

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The USCCB document, Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization, points out the important data from a 2011 CARA study, that most who do not attend Mass regularly have not left because of doctrinal issues. It is simply because they have slowly slipped away and the Church has become less and less relevant in their lives. The new evangelization is about presenting the Church in a current cultural context that makes sense to people. Certainly an institution that operates in a manner that is foreign to the rest of one’s experience of the world will have a difficult time making this evangelization relevant.

LPi not only has WeShare, which can easily enable a faith community to accept donations and fees online, but also offers other products to help build your online presence. WeConnect allows a faith community to build a website and maintain it with ease. WeGather helps a community interact more simply without multiple individuals having to maintain multiple e-mail lists. Integration with WeShare, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Google makes the LPi offerings a huge help to any faith community looking to reach the “modern masses.” My parish uses them all and it is not uncommon to have someone join our parish because of them.

In the end, whether you use LPi or another provider, online giving is essential to the modern Church that seeks to be relevant. Often times the Church is slow to change, just like Tex & Shirley’s. (They do accept credit and debit cards now so the Greensboro community can get their morning carbs with ease.) And really, online giving is not the “final frontier” just because your community hasn’t embraced it. Your neighboring faith community probably has already. Just ask one of your former parishioners who now attends there.

 

Tracy Earl WelliverAbout the Author Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS, serves as Director of Parish Community & Engagement at LPi, and has taught and presented all over the US in parishes and at conferences in the areas of stewardship, catechesis, and strengths theory for over two decades. To bring Tracy to your parish, email him at twelliver@4LPi.com.

 

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Whitepaper: A Tool For Growing an Engaged Church Membership

WeShare: Online Donation and Event Management

Whitepaper: A Tool For Growing an Engaged Church MembershipIn 1904 Ivan Pavlov was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work on conditioning and involuntary reflex actions. The story goes that every time he fed his dog he would ring a bell. The dog was conditioned that when the bell rang, he ate. Eventually, when the bell rang but no food was presented the dog would still salivate. Pavlov’s research on conditional reflexes has influenced not only science, but also popular culture. The phrase “Pavlov’s dog” is used to describe someone who merely reacts to a situation rather than using critical thinking.

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Why is the reaction of your average parishioners when they hear the term stewardship to suddenly grab their wallets? Like Pavlov’s dog, the average parishioner has been conditioned that when the church talks of stewardship it is really a euphemism for “we need your money.” Like the teacher in the old Charlie Brown cartoons, we speak in stewardship terms of “time, talent, and treasure.” Parishioners, however, hear only “we need your money.” As Catholics, we need to break this involuntary reflex action, but how?

Good Stewardship Is the Culture We Need to Create

How did we get here? Money and donations should not be the focus of stewardship, rather money and donations should be one of the results of a good stewardship program. It is our job to build an engaged church, an active and vibrant church, a church that attracts and retains members, and a church that affects a person’s soul. Do members just show up for an hour on Sunday or are they engaged and dedicated to the various ministries the church provides? As your parishioners become more engaged, they become more emotionally committed to the success of church and its mission. As people are emotionally committed to the success of the church, they willingly choose to contribute and feel good about their donation. That personal decision to contribute to the church becomes a positive experience for them. They willingly donate to the church when they understand and then see what their donation will accomplish.

“Turn Off the TV and Get Ready for Church”

For many years the church has used a system of envelopes to collect donations. Parishioner are given a box of envelopes that include their name, their envelope number, and a small box in which they are to write the amount of their donation. Inside the envelope they are to insert their cash or check and at the time of the collection during Mass, they drop their envelope in the basket. Let’s examine the psyche of the average parishioner as they insert their contribution in the envelope.

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It’s Sunday morning and the family wakes. After the fourth time of yelling to the kids to “turn off the TV and get ready for church” Mom and Dad walk into the kitchen twenty minutes before Mass to see cereal bowls in the sink, milk spilled on the counter, and the kids still not ready to go. While Mom cleans up the mess in the kitchen, Dad turns off the TV and yells one last time to get dressed, brush your teeth, “we’re leaving in five minutes!” Making sure the kids have their coats on, they corral the kids in the car and speed away to get to church on time. As the car races to church to try to get there before the first reading begins, Mom is writing the check on the way to church; hopefully she remembered the envelope.

Sound familiar? The problem is that for most people, the process of writing the check is something they don’t give much thought too. In fact, in this era of online banking, it’s not something they do that often anymore―except for the one check they write to church. They have a general understanding that they “should” contribute to the church, but how often do they think about why they should contribute. Is there a better way? Is online giving the answer?

Why EFT Isn’t Working

Many churches already offer a distant cousin to online giving by allowing members to automatically transfer money from their account to the church via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Many of those churches are disappointed that more people are not using this service. Despite being told that it will save the church money on the printing and distribution of the envelopes, still a very small percentage of parishioners take advantage of EFT.

There are two primary reasons why EFT initiatives tend to fail:

  1. After announcing this service is available, parishioners rarely hear about it again.
  2. If they take advantage of this service, they lose control of their donation process. How do they make a change to their donation if necessary?

Generally they have to call the rectory and have a potentially embarrassing conversation with someone to explain they no longer can donate at the level they committed. Most people will avoid that conversation if at all possible. Consequently, while it is less convenient to write a check each week, it is perceived as being the less painful choice. Very few people are willing to abdicate control of their finances.

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There are many online giving solutions that allow a member to control their donations. Many are sold to churches with the expectation of increasing donations. But if all they do is replicate the function of the envelope, is it realistic for a church to expect an increase in its donations? Unless the church changes its approach, the answer is, sadly, no. The problem with most of the online giving tools available today is that they replicate the function of the envelope really well. They allow for the transaction of donating to the church similarly to the approach of the envelope. A potential donor arrives at a website and sees a collection called “Sunday Offertory” with a box (similar to the envelope) where they are expected to enter in the amount of their donation, along with their banking information. There is no emotional connection to the church, no understanding of what their donation will accomplish and no connection to stewardship. Again, they act like Pavlov’s dog.

Creating the Emotional Connection

There is a better way to stress the positive concepts of stewardship that will drive an increase in donations. As humans we’re all about outcomes. We thirst for an understanding of the good things that will occur as a result of our donation. Americans are a compassionate people. A study conducted by Center on Wealth and Philanthropy said in 2007, Americans gave over $217 billion to charity. Your online giving tool needs to support your effort and drive engagement. It should help you create an emotional connection with the person considering a contribution to the church. The more effective you are in helping members understand the good things that will occur as a result of their donation, the more the potential donor will internalize these good things and want them to occur. This will make them more likely to donate, and when they donate they donate more money. Your online giving tool needs to provide this understanding. If you don’t communicate well, then just like the family writing the check on the way to church, they don’t think about why they are donating or the things that will occur as a result of their donation. WeShare, the tool for online giving offered by Liturgical Publications Inc (LPi), helps you paint a vivid picture of what their contributions to the church will accomplish.

Online Donation Services Increase Giving

Why are churches reporting an increase in donations when using online giving tools like WeShare?

  1. As discussed above, the connection is made between the donation and the accomplishments of the church so more members donate.
  2. Whether I am in church or not, you still receive my donation. A diocesan study reported that they receive donations, on average, forty weeks a year from their average parishioner. The other twelve weeks when the envelope is not returned are a lost opportunity. A parish member will fill out a pledge card and commit to a weekly donation of $x times fifty-two weeks per year. However, on average, will only be in church forty weeks per year and never fulfill their full intention. By setting up a recurring donation they are able to fulfill their intention whether in church or not.
  3. When people use credit cards, they tend to be more generous. If I have forgotten my checkbook or envelope and I have a choice between a $20 bill and a $5 bill to drop in the basket, most likely I’ll keep the $20. Cash flow drives my decisions. I can only give what is in my wallet or what is in my checking account. Let’s say I’d like to contribute to a collection today but I don’t get paid until next week. I am unable to make that contribution because I am subject to my cash flow. By allowing me to use a credit card, my concerns about cash flow disappear.
  4. Many people prefer to put as much of their monthly expenditure on credit cards as possible. They are collecting the miles or points or cash back incentives provided by the credit card companies. By allowing them to use their credit card for this purpose, it becomes a win-win for them and the church. It also makes it easier for them to track their monthly expenditures.
  5. Taking Evangelization to the Streets
  6. Today most people pay bills online. A study by the Pew Research Center found that half of all Americans do (that’s half of all Americans, not half of those who are online). For many people, the only check they write is to the church or school. When you allow someone to give online they begin to think about their donation in a different context. They send $100 per month to the cable company and $100 per month to the cell phone company and now start to reprioritize their contribution to the church, thinking, “Is my church donation really only as important to me as my cable service?” As people begin to rethink their giving levels, we find that many people find the money to increase their donations to reflect their priority. Your online giving tool should help you to engage and inform your members about all the good things going on in your church. With communication, you can effectively help members understand what will be accomplished with their donation. It should complement your stewardship efforts where the finances are the result of stewardship, not the focus.
Choosing an Online Giving Provider

There are ten points to consider when choosing an online giving provider:

  1. Ease of use. Your online giving tool must be easy to use by your less technical parishioners. It has to be intuitive and simple. It must be familiar and comfortable. If it is difficult to use or is uncomfortable, your parishioners will not use it and it will ultimately fail. In the same respect, it must be easy for the church staff to set up and manage. If you are successful and see a 10–30% increase in donations but you need to hire a new staff person, there is no point. It needs to be absorbed easily into the current workload of your current staff.
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  3. Total control of the donation process stays with the donor. Like the EFT process described above, if donors are not in control of their donation, as they are when writing a check each week, they will not use the tool.
    They must have the ability to change the amount, the frequency, the source of their payment, the ability to skip a donation, even cancel their donation if necessary. While most people will set up their donation and forget it, knowing they can change it if necessary is the comfort they need to use the tool.
  4. Integration with your Church Management Software (CMS). Your CMS should be your parishioner database of record. Whether you use ParishSOFT, PDS, ACS, or one of the many other tools available, your online giving tool should easily and seamlessly integrate with your CMS. Multiple databases are a nightmare to maintain. Your online giving provider should work with you to ensure your giving data is easily integrated with your CMSsystem.
  5. Unlimited number of collections and events. Your online giving tool should enable you to set up a variety of collections as well as events.
    Using the same tool to handle your church contributions as well as buying tickets to your spaghetti dinner will encourage your members to use the tool. Sunday offertory, a variety of second collections, diocesan appeals, and the variety of events, with no limits and easily managed will bring everything together in one easy-to-use location.
  6. Emotional connection. As stated above, the more effective the church is in telling me all the good that will occur as a result of my donation, the more likely I will be to contribute. And when I do donate, to donate more money. We just need to be asked and we will respond.
    Take the opportunity to give your members more than just “Sunday Offertory” and a box they need to fill in. Help them validate their donation by telling them what will be accomplished. Your online giving tool should make that connection easier by giving you customized tools to engage your parishioners to use the tool.
  7. Security. In today’s technical world your members deserve to know their banking information is safe. Your online giving provider needs to be both Level 1 PCI certified as well as SSAE-16 certified. Level 1 certification by PCI ensures your provider is handling sensitive banking information in the safest, most secure way.
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  9. Exceptional marketing and promotional support. Your online giving provider benefits from having as many of your members using its tool as possible. It is also in the church’s best interest to have as many of your members using the tool as possible. That is how the church increases its donation levels. Because of this partnership, your online giving provider should help you to promote and encourage your members to use the tool and you should not have to pay for any of these materials. Customized posters, flyers brochures, mailing stuffers, bulletin announcements, and pulpit announcements, as well as any other printed materials, should be provided by your online giving partner. The design, printing, and distribution should all be provided at no cost to the church. That’s what partners do.
  10. Technical support and readily available customer service staff. You should have access to a real person who you know by name to answer questions or help you when you need it. Can you reach someone whenever you have a question or problem? You should have a personal representative who is not only your primary support person for technical issues and training, but also as a resource to help you with marketing and promotion ideas. Your Engagement Manager should be a resource to give you ideas and suggestions based on experiences and learning from what has worked well at other parishes.
  11. Stability in business. Your provider should be stable and reliable. You are trusting someone with the church’s banking information and that of your members. Can you risk your partner going out of business? What risk is there to the church or your members? How long has your partner been in business? Will they be around tomorrow when you need them?
  12. Solid reputation. Your provider should have a strong reputation for customer service and be dedicated to the success of your church. When you know and trust a partner because of your relationship in one aspect of its business, you should be able to take advantage of that relationship with other products and services as well. Finances are not something to take lightly; work with someone you know and trust.

Online giving provides your church with a powerful tool to help engage with your members. In 2012, LPi celebrates 40 years in business. We have now been serving the church’s communication needs for four decades. Our online giving tool, WeShare, is an extension of this relationship.

 

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Whitepaper: Pros and Cons of Credit Card Merchant Accounts

WeShare: Online Donation and Event Management

Whitepaper: Pros and Cons of Credit Card Merchant AccountsAs more and more churches look at online giving, the topic of credit card merchant accounts invariably comes up. Of the major online giving solutions available to Catholic churches, there is a mostly even split between those providers that require a credit card merchant account and those that do not. If you’re thinking of selecting an online giving solution or looking to process credit card transactions for your church, you should be aware of the pros and cons of having your church maintain its own credit card merchant account.

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A Credit Card Merchant Account is an entry point into the credit card processing network that allows a church to directly accept payments via credit cards. The keyword here is directly. Some solutions allow you to accept credit card payments indirectly. The most common example that you’re probably familiar with is PayPal. PayPal isn’t really an online donation system, but many churches try and use it as such. PayPal, as well as some online giving solutions, serves as an aggregator of funds, using their merchant account to process your payments. After they’ve confirmed that they’ve successfully received the funds, PayPal then sends the money to you. See below for a list of the most popular online giving solutions and whether or not they act as aggregators of funds or require a merchant account.

The process to acquire a credit card merchant account is somewhere in between opening up a bank account and applying for a loan. This is because with a merchant account you’re really doing both. Merchant accounts act as a conduit between someone paying with a credit card and your bank. The application process has an underwriting component to it, as credit card purchases are really loans that have a degree of risk associated with them. With a merchant account, this risk, as well as any data privacy issues and concerns of fraud, becomes yours to manage.

There are distinct pros and cons to having your own merchant account, but there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to understand these pros and cons and make an informed decision.

Pros of Having Your Own Merchant Account

Having your own credit card merchant account has some distinct benefits:

  • Control—It’s your money coming in, and with your own credit card merchant account, you get to manage the process. The relationship between you and the credit card user is direct, with no intermediary handling money.
  • Speed in receiving payments—You typically get funds faster than if you used an online giving service or any generic service that aggregates funds. This may just be a couple of days faster, but it is typically faster. However, it may not always be faster, since it also depends on when your online donation provider processes its payments. Even if you have your own merchant account, some online donation solutions still batch their donations and only process them once per week or only a few times a month.
  • Transaction fees may be lower—As a nonprofit organization, you may be able to negotiate a lower credit card transaction cost than your online giving provider can through its merchant account. However, you need to look at the total cost of your credit card transactions plus the cost your online giving provider charges to decide if it truly is a good deal or not.
  • Your church’s name on the credit card statements—Every merchant account is allowed one and only one DBA name (“Doing Business As”). This is the name of the business that owns the merchant account. Aggregators can’t work this way. For example, if you buy something from a merchant through PayPal, “PayPal” will appear on your credit card statement, not the merchant’s name.
Cons of Having Your Own Merchant Account
  • Control = responsibility—If you control your merchant account, you’re also responsible for it. You typically need to manage credit card disputes, charge-backs, and are responsible for PCI Compliance.
  • Hidden fees—A bill for your credit card merchant account looks a lot like your personal cell phone bill. You thought you were only paying $89/month for your cell phone. Once surcharges, fees, and taxes are added, you may find out you’re paying noticeably more.
  • Data privacy and PCI Compliance—Having your own merchant account makes you responsible for all the transactions that move through the account. You’re now directly responsible for your parishioner/donor’s data privacy and maintaining the PCI Compliance of your processes. This usually translates into paying a yearly PCI Compliance fee, having a third party test the compliance of your system, and, if you don’t pass the test, paying a larger PCI non-Compliance fee. Some aspects of PCI Compliance are technically easy to understand, but may be hard to practically implement. Other aspects can be quite technical in nature and require significant IT skills to implement and maintain. Much of this can be mitigated by not storing credit card numbers electronically or on paper. You need to not only use a good system that does this for you, shifting the responsibility to the provider, but implement processes and procedures that avoid this as well. Too many churches keep credit card numbers on file either in paper form or as Excel files. At least one online giving provider provides its customers with all the positive responses necessary to successfully complete the PCI Compliance questionnaire. The desire to guide customers is commendable, but instructing them to memorize and reiterate the answers is perhaps an abdication of responsibility. You need to know and be prepared for real-world solutions should a data breach occur.
  • Data privacy risks—You’ve probably read or seen news reports over the past few years about some very high profile data privacy breaches where consumer data has been lost or stolen. The management and IT consulting firm Gartner estimates that the cost of dealing with a data privacy breach is between $90 and $305 per credit card number lost. No matter the number of donors you have or transactions you process, any data breach would be costly for a church.
  • American Express is extra—If you want to accept American Express, you also need to apply for an American Express merchant account. The standard credit card merchant account only covers Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. You will probably discover that American Express is noticeably more expensive than your other credit card merchant account.
  • One merchant = one bank account—A merchant account can only deposit money into one bank account. If you want to have your online donation system direct money to more than one bank account, you will need to set up multiple merchant accounts, and extra charges will apply. WeShare from Liturgical Publications Inc is the only Catholic-focused online giving system today that allows you to direct your donations into any number of bank accounts.
  • Fraud—The idea that someone would fraudulently use a stolen credit card to make a donation to or a purchase from your church sounds silly, doesn’t it? Yet it can and, unfortunately, does happen. Once hackers gets their hands on a set of stolen credit card numbers, the first thing they do with them is look for a less-than-secure system on which to test the card numbers to see if they still work. They try to make a small purchase or donation in a system that they can easily write an automated routine against so they can test every stolen credit card number in a manner of minutes. Unsuspecting and basic donation sites with names that imply legitimacy (i.e., your church) are frequent targets of these test transactions. Once they know they can donate or purchase something small for just a few dollars, they turn their attention to online electronic stores and other sites where they can make a high-dollar-value purchase. While these aren’t your parishioners’ credit card numbers, having your own merchant account means you bear the responsibility of making sure your site doesn’t make this easy to do.
Business Needs Drive Your Choices

There are clearly some pros and cons for having your own merchant account. Two of the typical business needs driving a decision on whether or not to set up your own merchant account are the need for your organization name to appear on your parishioners’ credit card statements, and having other credit card processing needs beyond just online donations.

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While not having the church as the vendor name isn’t likely an issue for the typical church, it is an issue for any nonprofit that has occasional donors as opposed to regular, recurring donations from parishioners. A nonprofit organization that gets occasional or seasonal donors doesn’t have time to communicate to its donors that they’re using a particular online giving system, but churches typically can get this message out during Mass, in their bulletin, in new parishioner enrollment forms, as well as during their annual pledge drive. Nonprofit organizations that are less connected to their donors will struggle to get this message out and will see their online donation provider having to deal with a large number of credit card charge-backs and disputes. A dioceses is a great example of an organization that can benefit from having its own merchant account.

If your church has its own store, an associated school that wishes to take tuition and fee payments via credit card, or has large events that collect money such as auctions and festivals, you may also be a candidate to have your own merchant account.

The best recommendation on which option to take should be made based on both the business needs and the size and sophistication of the parish or organization’s staff. A large church with a good financial and information systems team who understand financial and IT general controls is a good candidate for having a credit card merchant account. However, a smaller church with only outside information systems support and only a bookkeeper to manage the finances should probably shy away from implementing a system that requires a credit card merchant account.

But what if you’re not sure where you fall on this spectrum, or what method might be best for your church? You might want to seek out a partner that can help you determine a solution that best meets your needs.

Why LPi’s WeShare for Your Online Giving?

LPi offers an online donation management solution called WeShare that allows members to manage their donations easily and securely, purchase tickets for parish events, accept tuition payments, and more. WeShare is different from other online giving programs. It was created by a company that has been helping parishes like yours with their communication for more than 40 years. And we listen—regular product updates come from comments we receive from our customers.

WeShare features make it easier for your parish staff to manage, and your parishioners to donate, with full confidence:

  • Unlimited collections and events—anything you need to collect funds from your parishioners for can be set up in WeShare.
  • Flexible donation options—weekly, monthly, or annual donations, one-time donations, event tickets—simple to set up and describe in detail to your parishioners so they can feel connected to how their donations are being used.
  • Multiple bank accounts—any number of bank accounts you use for parish funds is possible. And the money is transferred to those accounts three times per week.
  • Simple setup and straightforward donation management—Our user interface is simple, flexible, and easy to use for even the least experienced Internet user. No need to create an account to review donation options and flexible enough to customize to your parish’s needs.
  • Highest security level available in the industry—WeShare is PCI Level 1 compliant and conducts an annual SSAE-16 (formerly SAS70) SOC audit. LPi also is the only provider that can serve as an aggregator or help you set up a merchant account.
  • Simple, accurate reporting—including easy transfer of data to all major church management systems, eliminating the need for manual entry.
  • A dedicated engagement manager ready to provide you with customized bulletin inserts, flyers, posters, and any assistance you need to make online giving successful at your parish.

 

All of this can be done at a significant cost savings to your church, so contact us today.

 

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