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Sometimes it's all about the money. In this case, it's about the transaction. Online donations are something many churches are asking about. In an effort to make it easier to give we are always looking for ways that fit the lifestyles of our members. Today we talk about online donations and even get into ecommerce, for those churches that want to sell their stuff.

Online transactions can be no small deal. When we factor is transaction fees, software, payment gateways, and all services involved online transactions can quickly escalate into a hairy mess. In this episode we cover the ins and outs of ecommerce.

Before we dive into ecommerce, have you ever herd of Internet Evangelism Day? It's a day for the church to focus in on using the Internet well to spread the word. We talk about this day, which is coming up April 27th, and we answer more listener feedback.

A few thoughts

1. Thanks for the tip on churchbeauty.com.
2. jott.com is sweet. I use it to add tasks to www.toodledo.com..then that syncs to my OmniFocus thanks to OFTD http://groups.google.com/group/oftd.
3. You can get cheap SSL Certs. Godaddy has them as cheap as $20/year. There are differences. The more expensive certs require more veification to purchase a cert. They may also provide better security for the keys that they keep for your cert(s). There are regulatory reasons that banks don't use cheap certs. For my purposes, godaddy and other cheaper certs seem ok. Would love to hear other opinions.

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Pocket Protectors

:-) I used to have 2 plastic white pocket protectors that originally belonged to my Grand father or something. I was goofing around with them at some point and ended up going to middle school with on in each back pocket of my jeans. Nobody ever said anything, but I sure was embarrassed when I realized that they were there. :-)

If I still had them, I'd take a picture just for you Rob!

I know I have one over here

I know I have one over here somewhere. If I can dig it up Ill snap a shot.

My past is once again haunting me...

I had a cousin who was significantly older than I who, for a number of years, had been living overseas. He returned to the US to sell, of all things, satellites and soon wanted to reconnect with family.

One day I received from him a large package in the mail. When you’re 10 even junk mail is great, but this was extra special for contained therein were perhaps two dozen 18 X 24 inch promotional posters, a large bag stuffed with stickers, four pencils (with his name embossed), a lunch baggie full of dust spewed from Mt. Saint Helens (he was in the area at the time), and two plastic pouches labeled with the name of his employer. I asked my Mom what they were. She laid out the concept behind the pocket protector.

WHAT A WONDERFUL IDEA! We’ve all had pens that leak. Besides, satellite posters are cool...space stickers, also cool…pencils with your name embossed (or at least your cousin's name); cool...and who would not want their own sack of volcanic ash? In retrospect, my attraction was logical, for pocket protectors shared very good company.

I wore them with pride for the rest of the summer; sporting every button shirt I owned for no other reason that t-shirts had no pockets for which to protect. When I was fortunate enough to wear a shirt with two breast pockets, I might just wear one pocket protector on the left and my other on the right.

A few weeks passed and my older brother approached me. (I think I may have been wearing both, although saw no reason to carry a pen.) In a burst of compassion he said, “Um, well, you know…just how can I say this? Uh, the school year is starting soon and you really need to know that pocket protectors aren’t really that cool.” I couldn’t believe something so absurd. Why was he so jealous? Why not just ask to borrow one? I ran to my Mom, and asked her point-blank, "ARE POCKET PROTECTORS COOL?" The look on her face left me heartbroken.

Simply....

Hilarious.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Here's a real photo of one

Well, I know it's kind of late for this, but I never saw anyone that actually posted a picture. I had a pocket protector lying around in my desk drawer, so I dug it out and took a photo .

(I don't really use it...really.)

You Win.

Well....It's official. You're my favorite listener now. Thanks for posting, added a great chuckle to start out my day,

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Paypal info

Hey, great episode. Just want to correct one thing. Our ministry uses Paypal to collect on ticket sales. The fee structure for the smallest business account like us is 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. If we had higher volume, the percentage could be as low as 1.9%.

There are not monthly fees on the basic business accounts of any kind. This is one of the reasons that we like it.

Also note that the effect of the $0.30 per transaction can add up if you are doing lots of small transactions.

Here's a link that supports

Here's a link that supports the previous comment: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_wp-s... We use paypal, too, for donations and don't pay any monthly fees.

Website Payments PRO

Hey Guys...
Maybe we misspoke, or you misheard, not sure which. The Paypal account with the monthly fee ($30/month) is Website Payments PRO. This is the account that's needed to do anything with the Paypal API, such as onsite e-commerce.

The "standard" account has no monthly fees...however, you have to do everything on the paypal.com site, therefore we considered that an 'offsite' service.

When we mentioned monthly fees, I think it was when we were talking about API tie-in, and that requires the account with a monthly fee.

Hope that clears it up.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Ok, I see

I didn't appreciate the distinction you were making between onsite and offsite payments. Ours is offsite I guess. The user is transferred to the paypal site to make the payment and then is transferred back. And of course this is not ideal since a few people get lost on the way back. However for us it works well enough and we really can't handle the monthly fees.

Thanks.

Jott, Ubercart, SSL and whatever else I think to add...

Another good episode guys. Just some comments:

  1. Ditto above comments on Jott. If you've ever been driving somewhere and wished you could email yourself a reminder, go sign up. I even use it to make note of comments I want to make for the G&G Podcast.
  2. Ubercart is not standalone. It is "built on top of [and] totally integrated with Drupal's major core and contributed systems." I think what's confusing is that most of the docs and forums for it are not on drupal.org. I believe the eCommerce module is more mature, but Ubercart appears to be a rising star. Ubercart might not be best for the church applications you talked about on the podcast, but if you want to build a shopping cart application for your church bookstore, you might want to look at it. I recently migrated a Miva Merchant site to Ubercart for a friend of mine, and so far it rocks!
  3. On the topic of SSL:
    • Like everything else they sell, VeriSign is the most expensive way to buy SSL certificates. I've worked with GeoTrust, and their $150 or so per year is much more reasonable. I don't know much about the GoDaddy certs, but as long as they're in the browser's list of trusted CAs, they should work fine.
    • Like FF3, IE7 also balks and refuses to show the page if it detects any problem with the certificate.
    • I've never really seen a significant speed difference with SSL. My early experience on this was with IIS4 and IIS5 servers running FrontPage, which made it a pain to not just make the whole site secured. OTOH, it's really easy to use the securepages module with Drupal to only secure the parts of a site that need it.
    • Finally, I've seen people put web forms on SSL sites but not the form processor. That is totally backwards! For peace of mind, both should be secure, but what's most important is that the POST transaction to submit user data is going over SSL.

That's What I Thought

I had never herd of ubercart outside of the drupal universe. I knew that ubercart.org and ubercart.com were both about the drupal ubercart module.

Rob said there was a stand alone ecommerce software called ubercart. Now, having done some searching, I can't find a stand alone app.

I really look forward to ubercart coming out with an official release. Competition tends to make things better so I look forward to the ecommerce vs. ubercart competition to hopefully bring us better products than if they were just on their own.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

excellent points

Great points here. Especially on SSL for forms/form post URL. That is so often missed.

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

recurring payments for donations

Paypal used to have something like this, but I no longer see it as an option. However one thing that you need to remember is that the credit card industry goes by the PCI requirements for what you can and cannot keep. The ONLY information that you cannot keep EVER is the 3 digit AVS code, magnetic stripe data, and debit pin numbers.

So if you were to create a drupal module that would save the credit card number and expiration date AND let the customer know that this is how it works. You could charge their credit card every 3 months for a predetermined donation.

Now, before you all go crazy, keep in mind that you do pay more for this on the fee side. There is a higher risk associated with this sort of transaction. I am CFO at a company that has one of its products as a "of the month" club and this is the way it is done. We have custom software that initially will use the three digit AVS code for their first order (sent to Authorize.net for approval) and then saves only the other inforamtion we need to charge them again at a future date.

The credit card companies have developed this far reaching security program (PCI)and hopefully it will do more to achieve a higher level of security. So for those of you out there that are looking at an oustide service, make sure that they are Level 1 PCI DSS compliant.

Good show guys.

ZicherD
Linux 25%/Windows 50%/Mac 25%
100% Geek

Tough Thing

I have a tough time with reoccurring payments. Our giving, as the people of the church, is supposed to be the first fruits. Can we really give the first fruits automatically? Can we really give and have it be more than a routine when it's done automatically? I won't try to answer than question for anyone but it's one we should think about.

As for storing credit card information, I would not recommend any local church or ministry do this. While a company may be in the business of doing this, a church is not a financial institution. Typically, the people who build a church website are either volunteers or an outside company. How many churches are equipped to have people who know enough to handle the credit card information in a secure way? I only know of a handful. So, we don't recommend it unless you know what you are doing already.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Tougher than you think

It is estimated that over 50% of all businesses accepting credit cards do not comply with the latest PCI standards.

I should maybe append my post with what SHOULD be done versus what CAN be done.

1) you CAN have recurring payments, but maybe shouldn't
2) you CAN manage credit card information, but really shouldn't

ZicherD
Linux 25%/Windows 50%/Mac 25%
100% Geek

Giving outside of worship

Hmmm... what about giving while secluded in your home, privately, individually? I would never give the folks in my church the ability to tithe online. I think there's good reason why giving has historically been done during worship, after confession and after communion: that reason would be thanksgiving! (Note the words compounded to make 'thanks-giving'). Worship together but give thanks while sitting alone in front of the computer? It just doesn't make sense to me. And, for that matter, I cannot imagine "convenience" as aspect of giving, with a joyful heart at that? God suffers our sin, but we can't get our bums out of bed on Sunday, checkbook in hand? The only reason I have a checkbook anymore is for tithing; otherwise I'd never write checks. This is expressly so I can give during worship with my church family. When we pray over the offering after it has been taken, mine's right there in the plate, with everyone elses.

Preach It!

I couldn't agree more.... :)

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Amen

Amen

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

I think a church leadership

I think a church leadership has to decide what is right for them. We have a very non-traditional church. While there are some who grew up with offering plates being passed, it may be a road block for seekers and the unchurched. I would never want someone not to come the first time because they were offended by an offering plate being passed. You can't make everyone happy and that isn't our job, but we want to provide a comfortable place for the unchurched to come. This is part of our vision.

We have a basket for tithes and offerings right inside the auditorium doors. That is probably where 95% give. Providing an online giving area will allow those who are not able to be there on Sundays a way to give easily. We have also received donations onine from those who listen to our podcasts around the country and have moved away. So, should we expect them to get out the checkbook, write the check, put it in an envelope, stamp it and mail it in? I don't think their heart for giving is any less involved just becuse they don't write a check.

The answer to this may not be as black and white as some believe. There are different churchs with visions, but our missions should all be the same: Helping poeple to be fully devoted followers of Christ.

Thanks for listenting to me :)

Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Worship for seekers?

Worship for seekers is one of those things that churches need to talk about. It's been a huge thing in America over the last number of years.

But, according to Barna, most "church growth" is simply the recycling of church-goers from one congregation to another. I've herd numbers from mega church leaders saying that outreach centered worship services only tend to bring in about 3% of their growth being new Christians. The other 97% is recycling people from other churches. This has been echoed by mega churches like Willow Creek.

I'd suggest anyone interested in this topic give the bible a good read through, take a look at the measured data, and start talking about this. This is a big issue that is quickly coming to a head.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

It is defintely an important

It is defintely an important topic for sure. I think that keeping Jesus the focus of the church is the most important thing here. If we forget that and get caught up in all of disagreements between ways to worship, we are focused on the wrong things while lost people who need Christ are confirming their stereoptypes about Christians.. "See, they are just a bunch of hyporcites..". Guess what? That becomes another excuse not to go to your church or mine :(

You bet I meet folks who have come from other churches at our church. That will happen for various reasons that does not mean it is wrong. We also regularly have new people who have never been to church in their lives or have not be in church since they were kids. It does happen. No hard data for you.. just my experiences being heavily involved with church.

My church is a church for anyone, but not a church for everyone. That is cool too. I am thrilled if people are going to church somewhere.

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Roadblocks or preferences?

(Btw I wrote the original anonymous comment on the topic of 'secluded' tithing.) I don't think we should go around offending people. But I would rather Christians err on the side of honoring God and acting like a single-spirited people. Jesus is disruptive. Jesus is offensive. He comes into your life and reorders everything. If its not that way, ask yourself, "Who's Lord?" OK, that's a bomb on the topic :) But I think God is able to perfectly work through what we think are conundrums: do we do perfectly Christian things and offend people, possibly turning them off to (the true) Christ? Or, do we eschew perfectly Christians things for the sake of keeping visitors feeling good about Christ so that they might look further. I believe Jesus' own life is the clear answer here: that it is better to obey the Father at the cost of the world being offended rather than giving into the worlds (and our own!) squeamishness. Jesus offended everyone, and they killed him and the descendents of Abraham (biologically speaking), by and large, rejected God. Do you doubt that God will have his world back? Completely devoid of any rude intentions, I am free to say that I'm not worried about how people feel about godly behavior.

Cool.. Good deal on getting

Cool.. Good deal on getting an account here Sup. Welcome to the community of G&G. Of course you are still kind of anonymous since you didn't register a name, website, etc. but a login helps post so you don't will not to enter your info every time. I hate it when I forget to login and try to post or reply.

I don't think that it is not God honoring to worship in different ways and market the church to attract those spiritually seeking a savior. You may not like how we do things. I want you to know that it is totally good with me. I am so happy and thankful that you are saved and have a church that works for you. The unfortunate reality is that new people are accepting Christ as their savior at my church weekly. Real people, saved from death. Many of who would never set foot in a traditional church before becoming Christians. I grew up in traditional church and I understand it, many don't and are intimidated. Can God get past that like you said? You bet! Those folks can come to my church. Are we single-spirited? Man, I sure hope so. If you are all about following Jesus and spreading the Gospel, then we are all set. :)

I know this thread has gotten off topic a bit, but I appreciate everyone's comments and the entire discussion. It helps me to see other perspectives, opinions and theological positions. It really strengthens my faith and my understanding of God's plan for me. I am going to say a prayer tonight for the blessing the G&G community has been to me - including Sup, Rob, Matt, etc. Thanks guys!

Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

In Context

I'm reminded of a couple things here. First is 1 Corinthians 13 that, in many words, says we need to do things in love.

Jesus did just that. Did he confront people? Sure. Did he comfort people? Oh yeah. I think of him confronting the pharisees about following, living, and interpreting the bible while seeing a very different picture when it comes to someone like the woman at the well that Jesus told about the living water. He spoke and acted differently based on the context of his situation. I think the same thing holds true today.

Does God radically change lives? Sure. But, he does it in personal ways that is not one size fits all. Paul, initially known as Saul, had a life changing God experience that was very different from the woman at the well. Hers was gentle and kind. His was in your face God to someone who was supposed to know God.

I think it all comes back to love. Doing what we do with the best and most loving intention for others. Sometimes that does mean being confrontational. But, it's confrontation done out or and with love :)

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Matt, Man, that is so true.

Matt,

Man, that is so true. Thanks for sharing!

Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

We don't pass a plate or

We don't pass a plate or anything around at my church for an offering. By the door there is a place where you can place an offering. I think online offerings are just another method of doing it.
Time magazine awhile back posted an article about ATM Machines in the Church.
With all the different ministries now having an online presence, ministries that we may have never heard of are just a click away.
I found some great ministries with some excellent resources online and when I feel led to support that ministry I do so. I look for a way to pay online instead of writing a check. Sometimes the Church I feel led to give to may not always be my local church.

Giving a tough topic

Online giving is a tough topic. It's easier to talk about the technology behind doing it a certain way than to talk about what and how we should give.

I think this depends on a particular church or ministry. Some ministries, the only way to give is online. If that's the case they should at least have mailing address. In fact sending a check to them through the mail would be more cost effective than an online transaction.

In our churches money has become a tough topic. To most of the people where I live they see their money as their thing and don't see God in that picture. That's what statistics say about our culture. We have what's called a consumerism economy where it's about me consuming something. To many people it's between their money and some stuff... and they want God and the church to stay out. We are at the point where an offering plate can be seen as bad and people get outraged or start finger pointing when the church talks about money.

This is a problem I'd like the church to deal with head on. The only thing Jesus talked more about than stuff and money (in particular) was the kingdom of heaven. Paul, and the other Apostles, talk about money quite a bit including giving. There is loads of talk about it in the Old Testament as well. The biblical precedent set by God (through Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit) and seen through the prophets and Apostles says we talk about it (and we give some of it). Money is one of the greatest things that gets between us and God. No matter how we do giving, the technology is the easy part to talk about.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Merchant Account - application time

You guys talked about the frustration of clients setting up merchant accounts and the fact that it takes them 2 to 3 months to have the account set up.

From the view of a consumer, that delay is a good thing. Remember, that the delay is caused by the bank doing background research to make sure that the person getting the account is legitimate. If it were a quick and painless process to set up a merchant account, there would be much more credit card fraud than there already is.

You may want to remind your clients that there is a reason for the delay, and that it is better to wait to get a merchant account than for scam artists to set them up over night, and the take the money and run.

John
john-simons.com

Agreed...but...

Hey John...
I agree with you...but the fact is, all this time isn't being taken to do background checks (or at least mostly). In my experience, much of the time is because of the disorganization, or more accurately, the "un-clarity" of the merchant provider's requests for info.

From what I've seen, they ask the potential merchant for "x-y-and z", the merchant hunts down that info, then gives it to them. They come back 2 weeks later and say "oh, well, x-y-and z also means we need a-b-and c"....2 weeks later...then the process starts again.

I'd say it was the fault of an individual merchant provider, but the fact is, I've seen this happen with multiple providers. They're just not very user-friendly, is my point, i guess. You basically have to be a lawyer or financial expert to know what they need the first time.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

So hire a lawyer :)

If that is the case, then maybe everyone should hire a lawyer. That way they get to start collecting payments more quickly, plus they get a good explanation of the contracts that they sign.

John
john-simons.com

Always In A Hurry

I think the frustrating part is due to the fact we are always in a hurry. No one pays attention to speed limits. People are always thinking of ways to get to the front of the line faster.

To quote an Alabama song, "I'm in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until lifes no fun."

That's kind of how we have become. I've seen people get upset 3 months into a top secret clearance investigation, and that's a deep background check.

Is patience something we lost as a people?

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

I'm the lucky one

When setting up the merchant account for our ecommerce site at work we were approved and processing in probably a week. When I heard that it takes most people 2 months I was amazed. Now our company has been established for over 25 years and our domain information directly reflects the company identity, which is different then most online retailers out there. Usually mycoolproducst.com is johnqsmith inc. and I can understand and appreciate a delay for that purpose. I also am not surprised that churches setting up a merchant account have to wait because the verification process is probably a lot harder, especially in smaller churches where everything is usually filtered through the pastor personally.

You guys mentioned a couple times that there was the cost of 2-4% for processing the transactions for a tithe. I think you also left out the cost of giving to God money that you don't really even have yet. Putting a tithe on a CC is giving out of future fruits that you don't know that you will actually have. We looked at this issue in our church and felt it was not honoring to God to have people going into debt to tithe. We do accept e-checks and account transfers. These are funds that do exist in people accounts. There aren't transaction charges for the church and if the individual has a charge, its usually very small. I think I pay like 35 cents a week for an e-check.

In regards to an automatic transaction, I know that for me (I am not suggesting that this is for everyone, just for me) it has helped me tithe. I know how much is coming in and I schedule the appropriate amount to go to the church. During the service when a collection plate is being passed I spend the time praying for the use of the funds I've already scheduled to send. I have gone from giving 2% on average (forgetting a checkbook, or getting too busy or just to fearful of finances and not trusting God) to actually tithing. I also know for me that the guilt and shame associated with not following through on my tithe has hindered my relationship with God in the past. Now consider that the average regular church goer gives 2-3% a year.

Great show as usual guys.

-sirkyle

-sirkyle

Google Checkout for non-profits is free till 2009

FYI,
I haven't listened to the podcast yet nor read all the comments but I wanted to give a heads up that Google Checkout is FREE non-profits till 2009

peace
Will

On-Site eCommerce

When deciding to process transactions on-site or off-site, also consider the required PCI (Payment Card Industry) Compliance. The third-party auditing your systems and network is very costly, and implementing required software upgrades to maintain compliance are disruptive and can be very costly. This is also true for internal procedures to maintain compliance.