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Online donations

08 March 2013

We are raising money for building works; so should we be investing in a system that enables people to make online donations by credit card? There are a number of visitors and passers-by who might donate, if it were easier to do so.

MOST church websites are stacked full of essential information about worship, occasional services, pastoral work, activities, history, and a great deal more. The essential element about spontaneous online giving is that it is instantly in front of the potential donor, and takes only a click or two. I can think of a few urban or city-centre churches that might operate this way, but I would suggest that it is better to have a donation-specific website than a remote page on the existing one.

A new initiative came across my desk recently - the National Funding Scheme, which appears to have been set up by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Rothschild Foundation. It already has a website (www.nationalfundingscheme.org/). It will primarily be about mobile giving, and will be launched this year.

Institutions will be able to register, giving information about their fund-raising, and this will be available on smartphones and the like. People will then be able to make casual contributions on the spur of the moment, and make the donation subject to Gift Aid. Each church would register on the list, and could put the donation contact on its publicity, inside and outside the church.

This is an encouraging move forward. For some years, the digital-donor systems have seemed applicable only to big and very busy churches, and even then they have limitations. This may be a great move for us.

Also in the news recently was the publication of the Building Conservation Directory 2013. Worshippers in historic churches that undertake repair and conservation, or even new works, may find this a fascinating book to dip into. It contains lists of specialists, such as those who work in stained glass, wall paintings, wood, and other areas. There is advice on some issues, and, for those who are not into trawling through websites, it will help you to know about the field of work into which you may be venturing for the first time.

Architects probably have a great deal of this information to hand, but an educated client church always produces a better working relationship. Get the Directory if you are interested in the details. The Building Conservation website, www.buildingconservation.com, also gives information on specialist courses.

A quote from the HRB newsletter may be helpful: "A new Android app ("Keyholder") has been developed which displays information for visitors to Church of England churches. The majority of churches, about 13,000, are included. Its main aim is to show which churches are open to the public during the day, and which ones are locked, have keyholders, or are open at certain restricted times.

"In addition, the app allows you to add your own information, and the app can be synchronised with a central server, allowing you to share information, ratings, and comments with others. The app is designed for those like to visit English parish churches for their heritage and so forth, and is not intended to provide information on service times or contact details for church officials.

"There are two versions available on the Play Store: a free version, which is very restricted, and has no access to the server, and the full application, available for purchase at £4.99." I have yet to find it on my phone, but it sounds great.


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