This is a transcribed copy from an original podcast recording.
Eleanor: I hear that you are an advocate and a ‘star’ in the Diocese for the way you use Parish Giving and specifically Contactless Giving. Can you tell me what you do?
Mark: We’ve tried a number of things to get it going, the biggest challenge was when it was muted in the Press and I brought it to the PCC because I thought it would be a good thing to do because our finances were dia at the time.
It had pretty negative reception because (unusually for the Church of England) our PCC has a number of elderly people on it with lots of experience, so you tend to listen to them and I parked it [the idea]. Then I went home and spoke to my sons who are in their 20s, and they just said “Please Dad, everytime we get to church we feel embarrassed because we never carry money.”
I suddenly realised that this was a situation where those who are churched will expect the plate and it's comfortable for them. If a machine comes round then you don't have to respond, but it's there for those who would like it. Typically it's the unchurched people that say “wow” - it also sends out another message that the church is looking forward, we're not just rooted in the back of the mist of time, but we engage with contemporary ways of doing things.
Eleanor: You don't just use it on a Sunday but other special occasions too, don't you?
Mark:It's here on a Sunday morning, predominantly for things like cake sales, if there's cake being sold after the service, or the veg stall or teas and coffees. A number of people who haven't readily put money in now say “If we can press a button and give £10, that will do for the month, rather than I've only got 20p on me that we'll have to do for this week.”
We've [also] used it for other things:
I think the important thing is that you don't have somebody from the church waving it under people's noses, if you can get somebody who's involved in the actual ceremony, like Godparents or the best man then there's that personal element and people don't think of it as getting money out of their wallets somehow.
Eleanor: People want to give back because it's such a beautiful space...
Mark: They want to give back, and I think, my suspicion which has not been put to the test, is if we had an octogenarian member of the congregation going around they might press the £5 button, but because it's somebody they know they tend to go for the £25 button because they don't want to appear stingy.
I'm not ashamed to say that the church needs money and we thank God for the innovation.
Eleanor: The cynics out there, might say “but it's going to cost money, you've got to look after this equipment, there must be loads of paperwork.” So, how easy is it to sign up to the parish giving scheme?
Mark: It is an absolute doddle, our actual contactless giving is independent from the
Parish Giving Scheme. We did go for some capital investment initially to make sure the system ran. We have three mini iPads in church which we use with that, but we also use them everyday at morning prayer and evening prayer so the regular use which is good because we also have Wi-Fi in the parish.
Listen to the recording at: https://bit.ly/2sWjWsm
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