The Dangers of Donation Envelopes

Do your church donation envelopes have the option for someone to write down their credit card number or bank account information? If so, then you’ll definitely want to keep reading. Collecting donor information on your envelopes is actually extremely dangerous. Here are three big reasons why you shouldn’t collect information on your donation envelopes.

 

Your church takes on extreme financial risk

“Extreme” is not an exaggeration here. One simple (and even accidental) mistake could cost your church big time. Collecting credit card and bank account numbers via your donation envelopes poses the opportunity for multiple types of financial risk:

 

It allows for the possibility of a fraudulent gift.

Even people with the best intentions have the capacity to make a small mistake. If someone accidentally writes even one wrong number (or if your bookkeeper accidentally enters the number from the envelope incorrectly), your church could be pulling money from the wrong person’s account. When this happens, your church is the one held responsible to pay the damages, not the card or account owner.

 

It opens the door for bookkeeper fraud.

Nothing against your bookkeeper here, but the unfortunate reality is that collecting written account information opens the door to fraud. One person holds sensitive financial information for your entire congregation.

 

It exposes your church to the possibility of theft.

Even if both your congregation and bookkeeper are kind-hearted and extremely meticulous with copying down information, collecting information via donation envelopes puts your church at risk of theft. If someone breaks into your building and finds a pile of envelopes with credit card and bank account numbers, they’ve just hit the jackpot. Just a few years ago, Lakewood Church in Houston had over $600,000 in cash and checks stolen from their building, along with written credit card information. 

 

It voids the security your online giving provider offers

Subsplash Giving is fully PCI Compliant. This simply means that we have been independently audited and are certified to offer the highest level of security and data encryption for sensitive information such as credit card or bank account numbers. When someone gives through their Subsplash account, the information they provide doesn’t even touch our servers. Your congregation can rest assured knowing that their bank account is safe. The same cannot be said about simply collecting written information.

 

It discourages giving

When was the last time you simply wrote down your bank account information and handed it to someone? Hopefully never. Simply put, people would rather use a secure system that they can manage on their own. It is safer for all parties involved and gives the donor more control of managing their money. On top of that, collecting account information on envelopes limits the amount of ways people can give. It is much easier for both your staff and your congregation to set up recurring giving. Setting up a recurring donation online or from a mobile device saves time for your bookkeeper and the donor, and it helps your church budget correctly.

 

What’s the remedy?

Do these things scare you? They should. Collecting credit card or bank account information on donation envelopes (or in any way that is not PCI Compliant - this includes via email as well) exposes your church to a world of financial risk with deadly consequences. But fear not! There is a way to clamp down and make sure you have a system that protects both your bookkeeper and your congregation. Can you guess what that system is? Yep, secure online giving! If your church already has a secure online donation system set up, you’ll want to steer all of your traffic there. It is safer for everyone and saves time for your bookkeeper. And if you haven’t made the plunge into the world of online and mobile giving just yet, we’d love to assist you! Subsplash can get you set up for free, and we’d love to answer any further questions you have about security. Give us a call at 206-965-8090.