Donation App

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
brandonreed08
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Donation App

Postby brandonreed08 » Thu May 30, 2013 9:15 pm

Imagine this a world where atm's are no longer built and checks are no longer produced. This world is not far distant. With the advent of so many other means of transferring money from one person to another. You can send it via text, you can send it via Google wallet, you can send it through paypal. You can swipe cards using your phone and a card reader. So if checks are no longer produced, or are just very expensive, and atm's are not plentiful because people hardly use them then please tell me how the church plans on collecting tithing and other offerings. Whether they want to build an app or not, will soon become irrelevant. They should build one before that is the case.

The church should actually want to build a digital solution for donation. Think about how many bishops and clerks will not be tempted to mishandle funds and lose their memberships. Think of how much more time Bishopric counselors will have to support the bishops and the ward members. Think of how much more donations the church will receive because they made it so much easier to donate, since you can do it when ever it is most convenient, not when you have a tithing slip and have found a bishopric member. Think of how many more missionaries can be sent out, how many more temples can be built, how many more disaster victims can be helped because it became much easier to donate to the church. This is a project that should be developed much sooner rather than later. The app itself would likely only take days to develop. Setting up the new operations and rules would likely take longer than developing the technology.

lajackson
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Re: Donation App

Postby lajackson » Fri May 31, 2013 8:47 am

I personally believe it will happen. I do not know when.

But I do know a currently serving general authority who moved from another country and had to open a checking account so he could pay his tithing to his bishop. His country had not used checks in over 15 years.

So I think it will come. And the sooner the better for me. I write checks to only one payee now -- my ward.

brandonreed08
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Re: Donation App

Postby brandonreed08 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 6:43 am

Thanks for the reply lajackson.

I think it might be one of those things they are forced to do rather than developed with foresight. Common sense tells me that if you are going to add multiple online tools to the main website one of the first tools is a system that makes it easier to collect funds to pay for the website development and any other developments. The church is not immune from economic forces, hopefully they realize that before its too late.

It appears that someone suggested on the forum that they should use membership numbers as part of the tithing processing and it actually got implemented it. This gives me some hope because they are at least listening to some on this particular subject, but it also makes me question their common sense. Adding a line to the tithing slip which few actually have right off hand will make it more difficult for individuals to pay their tithing and other offerings. Now we will get more members coming to the clerk asking for their membership numbers frequently or they just won't fill out that line. Some will realize that it is on their temple recommend, but a significant portion don't have temple recommends. Providing an online payment solution that is connected to a persons membership account would be a far simpler and convenient solution than trying to make additions to the paper process.

Hopefully revelation will come soon on this issue and the Home/Visiting Teaching tools. I was actually in a ward that created widgets to the old ward sites. Everyone could see who their home/visiting teachers were, who they were assigned to visit, and could report on their visits all on the ward website. That was ten years ago. It is strange that a program that is so vital to the church has gotten so little attention in these technological improvements. I would have at least put it ahead of the maps application, which I imagine that few actually use. That and tithing are such a regular and vital part of the church on a monthly basis it is strange they have given them such little priority.

eblood66
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Re: Donation App

Postby eblood66 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:51 am

brandonreed08 wrote:Thanks for the reply lajackson.

I think it might be one of those things they are forced to do rather than developed with foresight. Common sense tells me that if you are going to add multiple online tools to the main website one of the first tools is a system that makes it easier to collect funds to pay for the website development and any other developments. The church is not immune from economic forces, hopefully they realize that before its too late.

The church isn't a commercial venture or even a charity that needs to make it as easy as possible to pay or donate. Tithing is a commandment which we should follow regardless of how hard it is to pay. I would hope that automated payment solutions would have absolutely no affect on the church's tithing income. If people are not paying their tithing just because it isn't convenient enough, that is a spiritual problem that should be handled by teaching the principles of the gospel and shouldn't be solved by technical means.

Personally I think the main reasons for developing automated payment solutions would be to reduce the time clerks and bishopric members must spend handling money and to provide a solution for those who no longer use checks. The later is already true in most of Europe but it's still a small minority in the US. The convenience for members should be the least of the reasons to do it.

Of course, when such a solution is available I'll use it. I'd love the convenience as well :) . I think it is coming but I think you underestimate the behind the scenes work that is required to get this kind of thing done. The church has financial systems that have been around for a long time. Making changes to them has to be done very carefully to avoid massive disruption of the current processes.

eblood66
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Re: Donation App

Postby eblood66 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:06 am

brandonreed08 wrote:It appears that someone suggested on the forum that they should use membership numbers as part of the tithing processing and it actually got implemented it. This gives me some hope because they are at least listening to some on this particular subject, but it also makes me question their common sense. Adding a line to the tithing slip which few actually have right off hand will make it more difficult for individuals to pay their tithing and other offerings. Now we will get more members coming to the clerk asking for their membership numbers frequently or they just won't fill out that line.

Actually, the directions provided when the new slips came out said that the membership number is not needed if you are donating in your own ward. It's only needed if you donate in another ward. So it really doesn't make things more difficult in the common case.

brandonreed08 wrote:Some will realize that it is on their temple recommend, but a significant portion don't have temple recommends. Providing an online payment solution that is connected to a persons membership account would be a far simpler and convenient solution than trying to make additions to the paper process.

I think linking all donations to the membership number was one of steps required to get an automated solution. Remember also that most online retailers take payment via credit card or something like PayPal but these services generally charge a percentage fee. Using such services would in effect redirect some of the sacred tithing funds to payment processors which would not be appropriate. Any solution the church implements has to have a relatively low transaction fee that is on par with what check processing costs.[/quote]

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marianomarini
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Re: Donation App

Postby marianomarini » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:58 am

I think we could be more effective, as tech guy, identifying real problems and suggest possible solutions.
I really don't know USA bank system nor MLS database either, so my point of view could be extremely wrong; so be patience with me.
Vision:
- All (at least USA) members could pay offering using Internet.

Resources needed:
- Members: Credit Card or other electronic payment system.
- Church: Application to identify member (LDSAccess) and manage founds AND unities.

fulfillment:
- Member fill the electronic slip as in paper system and pay the total ammount.
- The system update MLS database assigning the proper fund into member AND unit record.
- Local leader can access MLS database to see the financial situation of their unit.

Problems to face:
- Restrict expenses (remember that all units has money in just one account) to real ammount of unit founds. This require maybe an electronic expense system.
just to start!

brandonreed08
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Re: Donation App

Postby brandonreed08 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:45 am

Thanks for the replies lajackson, eblood66, & marianomarini. Hopefully someone with authority reviews them. The advantages of the online solution aren't really the issue though of this suggestion. This has been one of the most frequent suggestions in this forum going back to 2007. Back then it was about convenience, but now it is about necessity. Paying by cash or check are two forms that are being killed off by other more convenient options. Even the use of cards might be killed off through the use of smart phones as a payment vehicle, especially in developing countries. The church needs to respond to these clear trends. When the church was small it could operate lean and choose not to respond to such trends but at its current state that is simply not an option. Like any other organization it should to make it as easy and simple as possible to receive the monetary support which finances its numerous operations around the globe. It may not need to have numerous methods, like card readers, apps, & a payment tool on it website, but it needs to have at least one basic online solution due to the clear market trends which are upon us. I would hate to see a similar condemnation of the church for not providing an online payment option like we received for not using the Book of Mormon.

brandonreed08
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Re: Donation App

Postby brandonreed08 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:46 pm

So the church apparently has been doing online payments outside of the US for nearly a decade. Someone from Finland said they had been doing it for the last ten years online. I guess we can just hope and pray they implement in the US and abroad sooner rather than later.

eblood66
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Re: Donation App

Postby eblood66 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:10 pm

brandonreed08 wrote:So the church apparently has been doing online payments outside of the US for nearly a decade. Someone from Finland said they had been doing it for the last ten years online. I guess we can just hope and pray they implement in the US and abroad sooner rather than later.

I was a missionary in Finland 25 years ago and we were using bank transfers for most payments even then. Almost nobody used checks. As mission financial secretary the only time I used a check was when I received funds from the area office in Sweden. In that regard the banking system in Europe is far ahead of the US system.

The US system nowadays is focused more on credit cards than bank transfers and I think that's a barrier to electronic donations in the US. Credit card transactions cost too much to use for church donations and other mechanisms for electronic payments in the US are not as developed.

lajackson
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Re: Donation App

Postby lajackson » Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:41 pm

brandonreed08 wrote:I guess we can just hope and pray they implement in the US and abroad sooner rather than later.

You may remember that MLS started outside of the United States, and then was brought into North America after a few years.

I think that the Church managed one tax statement for members who lived and made donations in more than one unit during the year is a sign that progress in being made.


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