March 30, 2011; Source: Kansas City Star | No cash for the Sunday collection plate at church? No problem. Just go to the lobby and swipe your bank card at a "giving kiosk." These units, which are similar to what you'd be forgiven for mistaking as an Automated Teller Machine, are now found in about 325 churches nationwide, according to the McClatchy Newspapers.
SecureGive of Augusta, Ga., which has been selling the units since 2007, says kiosk purchases have taken off in the past year. "A lot of people just don't carry checkbooks," says Stuart Baker, the company's director of sales and marketing. "We're moving into a cashless society. From a practical standpoint, it allows people to do what they already want to do – give."
For houses of worship, the kiosks are an extension of technology they've been using for years to make it easier for people to give, such as adding donation links to their websites. New Covenant Community Church in Fresno, Calif., for instance, which has provided an online donation option for its congregants for some time, installed a giving kiosk in its lobby last November. So far, the church is averaging about a dozen users over the course of its two Sunday services. "I'm so thankful for this," says Quincy Hollman, who likes how easy the machine makes it to give and the fact that donations are recorded on her monthly bank statements.
As convenient as cashless giving is, Chris Williams, the finance director of the Gateway Church in Visalia, Calif., says like other congregants "from a generation that went to church and gave money by putting it in a basket," he still prefers to write out a check.—Bruce Trachtenberg