Using terminals for in-church giving

Debit and Credit card processing terminals are another way congregations can receive gifts in a society which is more and more cashless. Terminals can be passed around the congregation during the offering, or set up at the back of the church for people to give as they come or go. (Donors who gave when they came in could put the donation receipt in an envelope and on the plate.) When accepting such donations, you’ll need to make sure you capture or confirm the personal information needed for a charitable tax receipt. (This usually only needs to be done once.) church givingWhile people can also use the donation form on your website during the service with a smart phone or using a personal computer or tablet set up in in the church foyer, manually entering credit or debit card information into a form can be time-consuming when people want to grab a seat in the sanctuary or distracting when they want to focus on worship.

Congregations are also finding handheld terminals very convenient when they have fundraising dinners, are collecting registrations for events, or selling items through bazaars.

terminal photoThere are many providers of such terminals, all with slightly different features. So far, we’ve found that the stand alone terminal sold by Square is the most economical and is easy to use, so we’ll use that as an example. We’ve provided two other options you can explore below.

It’s easy to train a greeter on how to use the Square terminal and the interface is familiar to donors who have used it in stores. They can quickly navigate the few screens it takes to make a transaction with their debit or credit card. The Square terminal prints receipts and offers a tap-to-give option which is good in our post-COVID-19 world.

Although there is a one-time charge to purchase the Square terminal, there is no flat monthly fee, only a transaction processing fee for each donation received. This is important for churches because during some months of the year the terminal may sit idle.

If the Square terminal has access to the Internet, either via WiFi in the church or by using someone’s cell phone, gifts given by debit card over the Interac network will cost only $0.10 per transaction. This is considerably less than the approximately 3% or more your church will pay for credit card transactions (or debit transactions processed over the VISA/Mastercard networks).

square terminal receipt captureEven if you can’t provide the Square terminal with access to the Internet, your church can still receive debit card donations. However, your church will pay the higher fee for any delayed debit transactions that are processed once you get back to a location that has Internet access. Fees are also higher for credit or debit transactions keyed in by hand.

You can add your list of regular donors to your Square dashboard so a donor’s contact info can be quickly searched and found on the terminal. This is handy for having the information you need to issue a charitable tax receipt.

PCC churches get a special discount period when they acquire a Square terminal. Contact Jim MacDonald in the Stewardship and Planned Giving Department for more information.

Comparing In-person Giving Solutions

At the time of this writing (July, 2022) a Square Terminal costs $399 (one-time purchase).
After that the advertised fees are

  • 2.65% per tap, dip or swipe for Visa, Mastercard, American Express and international credit cards.
    (If you manually key-in the card number, the cost increases to 3.4% + $0.15 per transaction.)
  • The transaction fee for Interac debit card insert and tap transactions is only $0.10 / transaction (as long as the device is connected to the Internet so the transaction is processed in real time).

Stripe offers a reader and terminal device similar to those offered by Square. For instance, Stripe offers a countertop reader terminal (BBPOS WisePOS E) for Stripe Terminal apps that costs $299. At the time of this writing (Aug. 2021), Stripe’s advertised fee structure is higher than Square’s.:

  • 2.7% for most cards (3.3% for international cards)
  • $0.15 for Interac transactions

Clover offers a handheld terminal that can even connect to a cellphone network, which would make things easier in a church that has poor wi-fi connectivity (though other terminals can also connect in this way by using someone’s cell phone as a personal hot spot). Unlike the one time cost of buying a Square or Stripe terminal, the Clover Flex costs $49.99/month so, after 6 months, the Clover Flex is much more costly for a church, even though the advertised transaction fees may be lower. Setting-up a Clover account does appear to be much more involved than with Square, but financial institutions are constantly changing to keep up with competitors, and it may be worthwhile to check-out Clover as an alternative when you’re ready to get a debit/credit card terminal for your church.

For more information about Stewardship & Planned Giving, call 1-800-619-7301 or click the Contact Us button.