Innovation in Unexpected Places

This week’s DC Tech Meetup was held at the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, and I was surprised to see these plastic cards tucked into all the pews. Apparently, parishioners can make donations by direct deposit and place this card in the collection plate on Sundays–in other words, a centuries-old institution known for its respect for tradition is embracing new technology.

I wonder what effect this will have on donations: Will they rise because donations are easier and no longer dependent on what’s in your pocket? Or will they fall because “accountability”–having your fellow churchgoers see just how much money you put in the plate–is lost?

According to the GivingUSA Foundation, in 2009: “Giving to religion, at 33 percent of total giving, remains the largest share of all contributions, with an estimated $100.95 billion. The estimated decline in giving to religion was 0.7 percent in 2009 (an estimated decrease of 0.3 percent adjusted for inflation).”