Electronic Funds Transfer or Pre-Authorized Plan

Direct deposit to the Church's bank account brings more modern donation methods to the traditional means of placing the donation on a plate. The generic term is called Electronic Funds Transfer. It is called Pre-Authorized Payment (PAP) by the banks, and Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) or Electronic Offering Program (EOP) by some churches. St. Mark's uses the PAR system through the United Church of Canda. In 2006 we are roughly one-third users of weekly envelopes, one-third users of monthly envelopes, and one-third contributors by PAR.

The primary benefits for a contributor is:

The primary benefits for the Parish is:

The question always arises about how much to give. Of course there is no clear answer as it is always left up to an individual. Some guidance is provided in How Much.

How to Start:

The Plan involves dealing with your financial institution and providing them a list of people, their bank or trust company, and the amount of the donation. It involves about one hour of work per month. The date of actual funds transfer depends upon your bank or system.

At St. Mark's, the parishioners using the plan are given an envelope number (in the 200s for us), but not envelopes unless they request them. The Envelope Secretary receives a copy of the transfer form giving a list or parishioners and the amounts. The contributions are entered as though they came on the plate. If someone using the plan gives to a special appeal, it is credited by the Envelope Secretary to the correct envelope number, regardless of whether there are actual envelopes issued or not. The envelope accounting end of the plan works well, but we have to admit we are blessed with an Envelope Secretary that has been on the job since 1973, and computerized since 1985. Our Church uses PowerChurch Plus for membership and contributions, and Quickbooks for accounting, even though PowerChurch Plus has an integral accounting package built-in.

The banking costs involved are usually around the minimum charge per month. The United Church PAR system charges 50 cents per person. Check with your financial institution.

Problems:

It takes a few years to get the program going. It is not everyone's cup of tea so don't expect high levels of participation. One other factor is the difficulty some church goers have in letting the plate pass by without putting on something. Initially we provided envelopes to all Plan users and suggest that they place an empty envelope on the plate marked "EFT". However, after a year, it solved itself and the plate regularly passed by parishioners without a second thought. St. Mark's solved this entire problem in the end by not passing the plate. The plates are left at the door for persons to place their contribution. It works well - and no we did not go down in open collections

Results:

The plan accounts for about 50% of our annual envelope donations. We consider is worthwhile. It has smoothed our monthly givings to between 7% and 9%, with the exception of December which is still has the largest givings (12%) of the year. Of importance, it has provided a steady flow of money all summer.