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.
About this time, Baker began to realize he had hit on something and saw broader applications for the kiosk. He put together a business plan, created a for-profit company called SecureGive, and now sells kiosk terminals to other churches and nonprofit organizations for anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, with a monthly subscription fee of $50. As of this writing, SecureGive has installed kiosks in more than 34 locations in more than 12 states.
Calvary Christian Center, a church in Ormond Beach, Fla., has had a giving kiosk in its lobby for eight or nine months. For Family Church in West Monroe, La., it’s been a year. Pastors for both of the churches agree that the kiosks are well worth the investment.
“They work very well. We have people who give regularly there,” says Terry L. Taylor, executive pastor of Family Church. “Our goal was to make it more convenient for those people that don’t bring a checkbook or cash and they live off of a debit card, and just to make it feasible for them to give.
“If you want to meet people where they’re living today, you need to have an ability for them to walk in and scan a card and give what they would like to give,” he adds.
Taylor says he thinks organizations of any kind that have people pass through on a regular basis or during special events would benefit from having a giving kiosk.
For example, SecureGive set up kiosks in the lobby of the Oregon Ballet Theatre last December during its “Nutcracker” performances.
“This is just how people do their business in their life,” Baker says. “They use it at the gas station, they use it at a grocery store. You know, why not in church? Why not use it to donate to someone?
“It gives you that ability to respond to those promptings that you may have in the moment when you are right there,” he adds. “This machine provides them with the opportunity to do something they really want to do, and that’s donate to something they believe in.”
For more information, visit www.securegive.com.