ATM for GOD?
In an effort to make donating money as easy as paying at the pump, many churches and nonprofit organizations have set up “giving kiosks” — ATM-like machines that let donors use their credit or debit cards to give to a cause.
The idea was conceived about three years ago by Marty Baker, pastor of Stevens Creek Community Church in Martinez, Ga., who wanted to make it easier for parishioners to contribute to the church’s capital campaign, specifically targeting those people who don’t carry cash but have a debit or credit card on hand.
“When you lead a campaign like that, you start looking at every area in order to raise funds for that project,” Baker says. “For us it was a $3 million building. During this process I started to examine my own life, and I realized I don’t carry cash, I don’t carry a checkbook, but I live with a debit card in my hand. And I just thought, ‘I wonder if there are other people in my church just like me?’”
He realized the church was leaving money on the table and researched to find a company that had the technology to allow someone to donate with their bank card in church, but found none.
“Everybody said, ‘That’s a great idea, but we don’t do it,’” Baker says.
Inspiration kicks in
In June 2004, he decided his church needed the technology, so he gathered a team of developers and went to work to create a “giving kiosk.” After nine months, Baker set up his first kiosk outside the church’s chapel. It took in about $100,000 that first year. After adding improvements to the machine — one of which was a pin pad — a second edition was rolled out in January of 2006. Two kiosks took in just more than $200,000 for the church that year, with average gifts of more than $100.