Congregations urged to consider embracing the digital giving age

Congregations are being encouraged to introduce contactless payment systems.

Stewardship officials are keen to show people how terminals could make donating faster and easier in what is increasingly becoming a cashless age.

Church digital plate
The brass giving plate is one of the devices offered by GoodBox. This one is used by St Albans Cathedral in England. GoodBox.

Some congregations are already using the technology which has resulted in people donating money when they wouldn't have necessarily done before.

One minister, who has embraced digital giving with great aplomb, described it as the "way forward".

Different vendors provide contactless payment technology but Kirk officials are recommending GoodBox, a company that specialises in supplying charities with technology.

One of the devices available is small enough to sit in a brass collection plate which gives parishioners the option of making a cashless donation or drop in notes and coins.

National Stewardship co-ordinator, David Lynch, described the GoodPlate as a "game changer".

He and his team are showcasing GoodBox devices at the General Assembly's Heart & Soul festival in Princes Street Gardens on Sunday.

Payment options

Mr Lynch said: "Digital giving shows that the Church is willing and able to embrace modern technology and it recognises that we are living in changing times.

"It fully understands the need to look at new and emerging methods of income generation."

Mr Lynch said the number of people who do not carry cash is ever increasing.

"The purpose of encouraging congregations to adopt a system is to provide those people looking to donate with the widest possible options," he explained.

"They could be one off visitors to services, event attendees, tourists or regular church members who have moved to a cashless lifestyle.

"It will also give congregations the option of a new portal of income generation for events and hall rentals."

David Lynch
David Lynch with one of the contactless products produced by GoodBox. Unicorn Scotland.

Money collected via contactless - a maximum of £30 a time - is part of the normal financial mission of each congregation and will be used in the same way as collection plate/bag donations.

Although he expects to see digital giving growing in the future, Mr Lynch said he did not think it would replace traditional donation methods anytime soon.

"I think what we will see going forward, particularly with GoodBox's brass plate, is a merger of the two," he added.

"Some churches already have terminals and enquiries are increasing.

"We are hoping that having examples of the technology available at Heart and Soul will increase the uptake."

Congregations already using contactless payment systems include St Giles Cathedral and Murrayfield Parish Church, which are both in Edinburgh.

"The way forward"

Greyfriars Parish Church in Lanark in South Lanarkshire introduced PayPal seven months ago.

Minister, Rev Bryan Kerr, said donations from people who would not traditionally give money to a church have increased.

"We have an electronic 'giving station' where people can give a one-off donation, set up a standing order or regular payment and sign up for Gift Aid," he added.

"We are slowly encouraging people to give what they can, however they can, be it via cash, contactless or even mobile phone.

"This is the way forward for the Church and we need to move with the times and encourage people to give in whatever way they feel comfortable."

GoodBox devices will be showcased at National Stewardship Roadshows being held at 16 churches the length and breadth of Scotland next month.