In the last week the churches of the East Ohio Annual Conference have scrambled to figure out how to live stream their worship services. Some have full-blown Sunday morning productions, others are pastors in front of their cell phones offering a message and a prayer.
And once they got that figured out by Sunday, they started calling my office on Monday trying to figure out electronic giving. Because passing the plate is really hard when no one is in the sanctuary, isn’t it?
For years, I have recommended Vanco as a service provider. I find them to have great customer service, a quality product, the best in online security and just for fun if you call their Minnesota offices they all sound like Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion, a real bonus in my book.
Now I can’t say that I have look exhaustively at every single provider and determined that Vanco is the best, so if you would like to spend your time during this hectic time doing so, be my guest. But if you just need to get this thing done by Sunday, call Vanco.
Besides, you already use them. Any time you send money electronically to the conference for apportionments, retirement or health insurance payments, are done through Vanco. It’s also endorsed by GCFA.
Vanco offers two levels that I suggest you look into. The web page and mobile app offer you the chance to have them build a page that connects to your church’s web page. They do the work to make it look seamlessly with what you already have. And the mobile app is a portable version of the same thing.
Cost for this is $10 per month, and they will waive the charge for the first four months.
The next addition is text to give. You’ve seen this with organizations like the Red Cross, send a text to a given number to give a gift. This is great if you need to be able to give very easy and simple directions during your webcast. Cost for this is an additional $5.
Set up is quick and easy. If you call today, they will do most of the work and you will be in business by Sunday morning.
Once you’re ready to go, there are per use charges:
- Credit or debit cards are 2.75% plus 45 cents per transaction
- Withdrawals directly out of a checking account are 1% plus 45 cents.
Now at this point you may be tempted to do the math and worry about paying some fees. But I think you should also consider the cost of not doing so. What is the cost of your giving slowing to a trickle until your sanctuary is populated again? What is the cost of not accommodating your parishioners’ needs at this time?
To get started, just reach out to Vanco. I called their toll free number, 855.213.3705 and was on hold for about ten minutes. My new buddy Zach Olson, who I talked to, offered his direct line, 952.352.8155 and suggested leaving a message if he’s on another call.
A board member of mine is fond of saying “Never waste a good crisis.” I’ve thought for years that all of our churches should be using online giving. Maybe this is the crisis that prompts that important action.