Giving Kiosks – Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Convenient. Fast. Innovative. Google “church giving kiosks” and you’ll find those adjectives in abundant supply on manufacturer websites . . . along with promises of marked increases in financial giving, an upsurge in event registrations, and a unicorn with your church’s logo hand-stitched on its saddle. (Okay, maybe not that one. But the claims can feel slightly far-fetched.)

church giving

“So?” you’d be right to ask your favorite generosity consultant. “Should we hire one of those companies and get things installed? I mean, the unicorn sounds amazing!”

Well . . . No. You shouldn’t. While it’s true that many churches have experienced an uptick in generosity after installing giving kiosks in their buildings, it’s important to realize that those results have very little to do with the machine itself.

 

Rather, I suspect generosity has trended up in those environments simply because their folks have another option to give. In other words: Yes, it’s a great idea to have a giving solution in your building for those folks who’ve forgotten their checkbooks or don’t carry cash . . . but it’s not necessary to pay thousands of dollars to make it happen.

Yes, thousands of dollars—about $5,000 each, to be exact. And while the manufacturers will say your system will pay for itself in x-number of months, I’m not convinced it’s necessary to spend the money to begin with.  (To be clear: If you already have a system that’s working for you, don’t chuck it! I’m only suggesting that it’s not necessary for churches to invest in them for the first time today.)

Instead, focus your attention on helping people take advantage of your online giving portal. Don’t have an online giving portal? Then back up a few posts [Eliminating Obstacles] and get to working on that first. If you already have a good online presence established, your next step is still probably not a call to a kiosk manufacturer. Why? Aside from the cost, unless you buy into an all-in-one kiosk solution, your online giving portal and giving kiosks will differ in significant ways. If we’re trying to make giving convenient for people, we ought not complicate it by asking them to learn and remember two different systems.

“But, Rusty, we want people to be able to give in the lobby!” Of course you do. So, once you have a solid online giving portal, set up a bank of computers or tablets in your lobby under a “Giving Station” banner, and point them to that portal. (And maybe lock them down so that’s the ONLY area that can be displayed . . . otherwise your youth will be playing Candy Crush Saga between services).

Now your church family has the same giving experience in the lobby as they do from home or from their laptop on the road. Same look and feel. Simple. I love simple. And by the way, I suspect even this solution will soon fall away as people look more and more to mobile devices as their “first screen.” [The Importance of Going Mobile]

Bottom line: Think of the user experience first, save a bunch of money, and still offer your people convenience, speed, and innovative technology. Just don’t promise them unicorns.

Giving Technology E-BookLooking for more in-depth information about giving technology? Download your FREE copy of my e-book “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving.”

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6 thoughts on “Giving Kiosks – Should We or Shouldn’t We?

  1. Wow, this was very helpful!!! thank you for providing this information. I’m an Executive Pastor looking to upgrade our giving options.

  2. Or you could just use Givelify. It’s free and it’s like online giving and kiosks put together but it’s an app for Smartphones and tablets.

  3. John,

    I agree – there are many options available to the church today. The advantage of an all-in-one solution such as yours is that the platform is existent across all devices – a huge win – less confusing for users.

    But we see the use of lobby kiosks on the decline compared to the rise of mobile use and that’s the direction I am encouraging clients to pursue if they’re considering their next step in e-giving.

    I recently visited a client church for Sunday worship. They had 8 kiosks in the main lobby (average attendance is well over 10,000 on the weekend). Monitoring the kiosks before and after services, I didn’t see a dozen people using them. That doesn’t mean I would suggest removing them – but for a church who is thinking about that investment, it wouldn’t be my first choice. Tablets with square readers or similar devices are much smarter investments today.

    Thanks for the feedback (and the full disclosure on your employer!). Much appreciated.

    Blessings,

    Rusty

    • I meant to say in that previous post “…is that the platform is consistent across all devices…”

    • I can certainly agree that kiosks shouldn’t be the first choice for churches – many people come to us for just kiosks while neglecting their main online giving or mobile site. Across our entire platform, regular desktop giving accounts for (off the top of my head) 57% of donations, mobile giving accounts for 31% (tablets and phone) and kiosks accounting for the final 12%. That’s statistically significant, but not at the cost of desktop or mobile.
      You’re right in that an integrated platform helps immensely – often times the best use of kiosks we’ve seen is when they can also be used in one-off fundraising events. The donor can give at that event, for that specific fund, and then later go online and see that donation alongside the more stable recurring tithe that the donor probably made online or with their phone. But this is a special case – not the only use of kiosks, but deploying kiosks does require some strategy.
      Great article, Rusty – thanks for writing it and bringing some temperance to the discussion. I also went through to some of your other blog posts and loved them as well. Keep up the good work!

  4. Keep in mind – not all kiosks cost thousands. There’s an increasingly large amount of kiosks that are built on the iPad, and integrate a (relatively) inexpensive card-present swiper. Full disclosure – I work at GivingFire which is an online platform with kiosks as well as mobile & online giving. We don’t recommend kiosks to everyone, but for many churches it does work better than the average computer + typing in a credit card at a comparable price.