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Banks charge ATM fees. Airlines charge baggage fees. Like any conscientious consumer, you probably don’t like paying either but you know what the fees are going to be and budget for them when choosing a bank or airline.

But what about the fees being imposed on churches by some eGiving providers – fees that appear low until you have a successful, thriving eGiving program?

Now that every envelope, bulletin, software and publishing company serving the Catholic community is offering eGiving, trying to do an apples-to-apples cost comparison between a percentage-based or per-user program and a flat-fee approach would be a full time job.

The one basic principle to keep in mind: Federal Reserve data suggests that within 5 years, 80% of all church donations will have to be processed electronically due to check usage decline.

Any fee structure that takes a percentage of the gross receipts or has a user-based fee structure will prove to be very expensive for churches in a short period of time as more members join the program.

Think about those ATM and baggage fees – if you use your bank’s ATM, the fees are generally waived (and most grocery stores allow you to get cash back for free when you make a purchase). If you pack light and stick with a carry-on, you can avoid most airlines’ baggage fees. But with eGiving programs that charge a percentage of gross receipts or per-user fee, there’s no getting around the increased costs.

Tip: When comparing providers, request a written fee projection based on 80% of your collections being processed electronically. This will help you compare the programs and enable you to choose the one that will best fit your church.

In most cases, either selecting or switching to an equitable flat-fee model not only will save the church resources, but will help you be better stewards of your member’s generosity!