The popularity of electronic giving has been rising in parishes, and is being urged by some as a means of keeping parishes afloat financially.
A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article describes how this phenomenon may look in megachurches:
At the end [of the service], a member of the “worship team” will call on parishioners to tithe and pass the collection plate. But not all people reach into their wallet. Many take out their phone instead.
The Tithe.ly and Pushpay apps are two examples of online tools for giving. The article reports that churches that use such apps (at a cost) say they see more donations from more people. It further reports that some church communities which use both a collection plate and electronic giving hand out cards that say “I paid on line” so the giver had something to put in the plate. Does this solution resolve the problem of a collection ritual that isn’t the the actual collection any longer?
A reader has written in to raise a question about electronic giving and how it affects the liturgy:
I’m on the stewardship council of my own parish. I raised the question about electronic bank transfers instead of parish envelopes—our parish provides both. But if we were to be really dangerous, and to let the liturgy guide our praxis, wouldn’t all the Conciliar arguments in favor of placing the collection before or during the Presentation of the Gifts (a visible symbol of the people’s support of the liturgy and its parish) militate against electronic bank transfers?
One of the arguments used in favor of apps is that younger people use them readily to pay for things. So a generational divide may be bridged. Yet one of the issues involved in this question is also surely: Does reducing the collection to a place-holder in the liturgy diminish the liturgy. Furthermore, when the “real” gifts come through a bank, does this trend cater to the convenience of the well-off but shame the poor, who don’t have bank accounts? Their gifts, after all, are valued more highly than large sums in the eyes of God (see Luke 21).
A basket is decidedly low-tech. But it’s also egalitarian.
What has been your experience of electronic giving? How does it affect the liturgy, specifically the collection?