Increasingly, churches are shying away from condoning credit card use for purchases or donations. Because of this, ServiceU just launched debit-only giving, a new option offered for online donations.
A 2010 survey by LifeWay Research found that only 14% of Protestant churches provided their congregations with the option of donating online, while a 2011 Federal Reserve Payment Study revealed that more than 75% of transactions in the United States in 2010 were either ACH (bank draft) or cards. Clearly, there is a shift taking place in how people exchange funds, and the church is not exempt from that transition.
1) Debit-Only Offers Financial Peace
Biblical values regarding debt and money may offer one explanation. Financial Peace guru Dave Ramsey, an advocate of a debt-free life and of generous giving to churches, often quotes Proverbs 22:7: “The borrower is slave to the lender.” Churches nationwide have encouraged their congregations to adopt Ramsey’s philosophy of managing money—many of them have even begun teaching Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course, a common-sense approach to household finance that advocates a wariness of credit, paying off debts, and creating a rainy-day fund for family emergencies.
At a time when Americans are struggling more than ever with debt—underwater on their mortgages, awash in credit card bills—ServiceU CEO Tim Whitehorn began to see that some churches might be willing to take a second look at online giving if congregants could do so without adding to their personal debt.
2) Debit-Only offers Flexibility
This new debit-only option allows churches and other nonprofits to accept online donations using only debit cards if so desired. Churches can also choose debit-only for their donations and still accept both debit and credit card transactions for events and other related payments.
Debit transactions subtract directly from a person’s bank account within 2 or 3 days, offering congregations the convenience of giving via a church Web site without using credit—which means church members are donating money they actually have.
3) Debit-Only Offers Economic Stability
With the economic collapse of 2008 followed by the recession, the dangers of excessive debt became very clear. Along those lines, many churches and pastors we heard from felt uncomfortable offering online giving via credit cards as they believed this might cause members in their congregation to increase their individual debt. Churches, therefore, wanted an option for online giving utilizing debit cards exclusively.