Augusta minister develops church donation app

Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011 3:13 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 12:57 AM
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Forgot your checkbook at church? There’s an app for that.

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Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff Marty Baker, Lead Pastor at Stevens Creek Church created a smart phone giving app for mobile phones.
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff Marty Baker, Lead Pastor at Stevens Creek Church created a smart phone giving app for mobile phones.

A new smartphone application developed by the Rev. Marty Baker, of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, is gaining traction with churches across the country. The app, called SecureGive Mobile after the company he and his wife, Patty, founded in Evans in 2005, is the first of its kind to be released in the Apple App Store.

The app allows parishioners to donate to their church from the convenience of their iPhone, iPad or Android phone.

“This is a tool that will help fund the church,” said Baker, the founding pastor of Stevens Creek, a Church of God congregation. “We believe people want to donate to the church. They want to donate to something they believe in. They might not have cash or a checkbook, but they have a phone.”

More than 75 churches across the country signed up for the app in the 10 days following its release.

“It’s already spreading farther than anything else we’ve done,” Baker said. “We feel like mobile is the next big wave.”

The idea is the latest development from SecureGive, the for-profit company the Bakers founded after developing their own giving kiosks for the lobby of Stevens Creek, which draws nearly 2,000 people on Sundays.

“My goal back then was figuring out how we could serve our congregation who doesn’t carry cash or a checkbook,” Baker said. “I looked everywhere for a solution for five months. It was to the point where I knew I’d have to be the one to do this.”

The Bakers founded SecureGive with the mission of using technology to help churches and nonprofits increase their funding. At first, that meant duplicating Stevens Creek’s computer-based kiosks in the lobbies of other churches. Next, SecureGive developed a platform for online giving.

Mobile, Baker said, was the next step in a natural progression.

“This whole thing with apps, it’s a big deal,” Baker said. “We wanted to be ahead of the curve. We look at digital giving as an evolution of the financial system. Tithing itself has evolved.”

Tithes were first given with animals and grains, then coins and cash, and later checks and debit cards, Baker said.

“It’s not the method that matters to God,” he said. “It’s the heart.”

The software was developed by Powerserve, a web development company on Broad Street in Augusta. The company worked for nearly a year to build an application that would be accepted by Apple.

“There are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to get an app published to the market,” said Mike Leaptrott, the information technology director for Powerserve.

The lengthy process resulted in a user-friendly app, both for churches and donors.

“It’s a really seamless experience for the user,” Leaptrott said.

Contributors can set up one-time or recurring donations, and designate their gift for specific causes. The app includes a giving calculator with inputs for income and how often a person would like to give.

On average, clients using SecureGive report a 20 percent increase in giving, Baker said. The average kiosk donation is $150. About 27 percent of donors are first-time givers.

The costs for churches vary. A monthly service fee is issued based on the size of the organization, and can range from $39 to $499 a month.

A processing fee is charged on donations. On a $1,000 donation, SecureGive charges $7.50 in processing fees, while the church or charity keeps $992.50, according to SecureGive.

The mobile app has already been adopted by a few local churches, including First Baptist Church of North Augusta and The Quest United Methodist Church in Martinez.

Tech-savvy churches will find that mobile giving not only increases donations, but paves the way for new relationships, Baker said.

“We want to break down walls for people,” he said. “This app is a tool that will break down barriers. It tells people outside the church that this church gets it. We understand how you live.”

ABOUT SECUREGIVE

The Rev. Marty Baker and his wife, Patty, founded SecureGive in Evans in 2005 after launching giving kiosks in the lobby of their church, Stevens Creek. Hundreds of churches and nonprofits across the country now use SecureGive for electronic giving. Learn more at securegive.com.

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Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/11 - 05:36 pm
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This is my favorite line...

This is my favorite line... “It’s not the method that matters to God,” he said. “It’s the heart.”

I love the example a simple husband and wife have made in this community, the beloved Tweety's, Phillip and Janie. I doubt they even know what an app is, and probably have never owned cell phones, but they have invested in God's kingdom and taken to heart what the Lord spoke to Peter prior to his departure from this earth.

Mr. and Mrs. Tweety, have ridden their bikes for years all over the CSRA looking for hurting people to minister to and placing money directly into their hands to help them feed their families. They understand fully what God was saying to Peter. He wanted Peter to invest in one on one relationships with people, just like Jesus did with the disciples.

I thank God for their humble example. And I thank Him for using the accident to bring attention to their ministry. May all who have read of them be encouraged by their beautiful and godly example.

I think it matters very much to God what we invest in. I love the church and the gathering of the people for corporate worship and the basic expenses have to be covered, but in addition, we should not become lazy or ignorant towards God commission to all of us. What are we doing personally to feed his people, both physically and spiritually? How does my church meet my needs to train, equip and encourage me to serve others? Do I know for myself what I am investing in? Is it my own comfort or the Kingdom of God? Am I investing in what I believe is in accordance to obedience to God's Word?

Jesus said to him, Peter, do you love me ? And Peter replied, Lord, you know that I do. And Jesus said, if you love me, Peter...feed my people.. John 21:16

TCB22
622
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TCB22 12/18/11 - 05:40 pm
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I didn't know there was a

I didn't know there was a Stevens Creek church in Augusta also. There is one in Evans also. Some great people I know attend there and say good things about it.

InChristLove
22459
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InChristLove 12/18/11 - 07:26 pm
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0
Does it really matter how you

Does it really matter how you give your tithes, by cash, check or on-line. As long as you are following the Lord's command to give then is it important how you give? Personally I think it's a matter between you and the Lord on how much, how often, and by what means you choose to give. It's all his money anyway, we are only returning a portion He has loaned us.

I know this isn't in every case or church but a lot of people will give on-line easier than writing a check or giving cash. Some people worry about who's going to see how much they gave, they feel giving on-line is more private .

Marty Baker
3
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Marty Baker 12/18/11 - 11:38 pm
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I want to say thanks to the

I want to say thanks to the Kelly and the folks at the Chronicle for publishing this story. It was well written. I do, however, want to clarify one small issue. The article said: A processing fee is charged on donations. On a $1,000 donation, SecureGive charges $7.50 in processing fees, while the church or charity keeps $992.50, according to SecureGive.

That statements makes it seem as though SecureGive charges that fee. Actually, the bank card network (ie VISA / MasterCard network) charges this sort of fee (discount rate). This rate (not to get to complicated) varies from 1/2% to 3%. It's based on the type of card that someone uses. So, Kelly's reporting is technically correct, but the organization is charged from the Merchant Processor not from SecureGive.

Like I said in the piece, giving is a heart issue and should be done as one is prompted and not coerced.

Electronic giving is just a means to accomplish what the individual wants to do. Again, it's not the method that is important; it's the heart.

~Marty

ConcernedTaxpayer
28
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ConcernedTaxpayer 12/19/11 - 06:18 am
0
0
I don't have a smart phone,

I don't have a smart phone, but do like the convenience of not having to deplete the cash I carry and don't like to have to write a check. I use my debit card in the kiosk when I attend and if I have to work on a Sunday, I give by going to the web site. So convenient!

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 12/19/11 - 06:33 am
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0
It's all about the

It's all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

JRC2024
8514
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JRC2024 12/19/11 - 09:51 am
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Techfan, sure is. It takes

Techfan, sure is. It takes money to pay the water, lights, payments, food on Wednesdays, pastors salery and all things the church does.

InChristLove
22459
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InChristLove 12/19/11 - 09:52 am
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0
No Techfan, it's not about

No Techfan, it's not about the money, it's about using the conveniences of this world to spread the gospel and win souls for Christ. If tithing or offerings are a free choice, how can it be about the money. Tithe and offerings given to the church have to be counted, documented, recorded in the appropriate ministry if designated (such as music ministry, children's ministry, missions, etc), and deposited. Speaking from experience from a small church of only about 200, this requires a good bit of time and requires a lot of documentation, such as the giver's envelope number (if using designated offering envelopes), designated funds, check numbers, counting cash, etc. I can only imagine the process for a church of 2,000 such as Steven's Creek.

If tithing or making an offering is a choice, how can providing a convenient and private way of doing so, be about the money.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 12/19/11 - 09:58 am
0
0
JRC2024, not to mention

JRC2024, not to mention literature for Sunday School and Bible Studies, Benevolence funds given to those in the church AND community to help in times of need. Money for missions here in our local community, across the states and overseas, repairs and maintenance on the building, payment for security systems.

allhans
23537
Points
allhans 12/19/11 - 10:13 am
0
0
Tithes are in order, but I

Tithes are in order, but I would much rather see people give in person. You know, they pass the plate, you put in a check that is already placed in an envelope provided to you, there are no extra charges (money that could go toward feeding the hungry) and you get to enjoy the fellowship of others.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 12/19/11 - 10:35 am
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0
Techfan, even Jesus had a

Techfan, even Jesus had a Treasurer (although he was a dishonest treasurer). So, money is necessary in order to get things done. Despite the often misquotation, money is not the root of all evil. LOVE of money is the problem (which is what the Bible actually says). In the hands of the right people with the right ideas and right motives, money can be a wonderful tool to accomplish a lot of good.

shrimp for breakfast
5422
Points
shrimp for breakfast 12/19/11 - 11:11 am
0
0
I think it feels wonderful to

I think it feels wonderful to give.
Once I do it is up to the person intrusted with the money to do with it what God would want. I have to believe it does some good because it was done in the name of God.

allhans
23537
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allhans 12/19/11 - 11:15 am
0
0
Ans speaking of tithes "The

Ans speaking of tithes "The God on the Mountain"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq-_zwyTeGc

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/19/11 - 12:37 pm
0
0
I think a lot of people are

I think a lot of people are put off by the churches collection of tithes and offerings. And at the same time, I also believe that they are intelligent enough to understand and appreciate the expenses that are incurred in the running of a church.

I also don't think that those who are feeling this way have been emotionally honest with themselves. If you are allowing such thoughts to keep you away from having a relationship with Christ Jesus and thereby blocking you from eternal life and victorious living, ask God for help in processing those feelings and seeing where your hurt and anger is really coming from. My own experience is , if I will reveal it, He will heal it.

Most of the time, we will find it isn't the money at all, but a feeling of rejection. God understands all of our feelings and hurts and anything that we bring before him, He will heal. Don't let the unrelational examples of others, real or perceived wrongs, keep you from your heavenly Father and all the wonderful plans that He has for you and your family.

Remember God owns everything. He wants our hearts, not our bank accounts. So why do we give? First, out of love to build the Kingdom of our Father in heaven; to feed his people, both physically and spiritually. Second, to support our church and it's overhead.

And don't worry about the gift after you have given it, God holds the overseers very responsible for their stewardship of the storehouse.

Suzanne Riddle
0
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Suzanne Riddle 12/19/11 - 12:25 pm
0
0
@allhans, I attend Stevens

@allhans, I attend Stevens Creek Church and we do have still have a time in the service where we take up the offering with an offering plate. This is just another means for people to give if they do not have cash or check to give during the service.

Cirroc2012
19
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Cirroc2012 12/19/11 - 01:02 pm
0
0
I have a problem with the

I have a problem with the those churches that put ATM machines in church and now an application that will afford people the opportunity to give their offering...Humm, what be next a bank located in the lobby. Today people are dealing finacial hard times, quit often they are feeling guilty that they can't give anything. They have now develped away that no one can use any excuse for not putting their part in. Many take joy out of going to church when their church has passed the collection plate over three times, as for others it is a joy for them to to give the offerings for tax purpose. This can really break what the meaning of going to church. God doesn't care about giving a set offering, what is important to him is that were serve him love our neighbors and live by commandants.

itsanotherday
0
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itsanotherday 12/19/11 - 01:08 pm
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WB, I think what puts a lot
Unpublished

WB, I think what puts a lot of people off is the constant haranguing for money for the minister to build his monument (large building) and legacy with, and budgeting for missions, etc. that it seems a select few are always able to take advantage of.

My very favorite church is a little country church on the border of Washington and Johnson County. For some 40 years the minister was a high school principal in Bibb County, 50 miles away. Because the congregation was not that large, he was able to visit the sick and shut-ins as needed, plus do weddings and funerals as they came along. They never even talked about money to the congregation, the attendance and offerings from the previous week were posted on the wall. The building today is the same as it was when I was born (it could have been built in the 30's or 40's), except a kitchen/eating area has been added, and air conditioning installed.

Contrast that with some (at least one) of the Augusta area Baptist churches that are multi-million dollar structures with a expansive staffing; and the pastors constantly begging for more money to build an even bigger monument to themselves. One pastor I'm aware of has even told members of the congregation to leave if they didn't like it. How is that for a good Christian attitude?

kiwiinamerica
936
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kiwiinamerica 12/19/11 - 01:46 pm
0
0
Inventing simpler, more
Unpublished

Inventing simpler, more painless ways of relieving you of your cash, is an activity which occupies an ever growing number of people, including those involved in the general area of religion. Especially those involved in religion.

Call our prayer line now, folks. Operators are standing by................

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 12/19/11 - 01:58 pm
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Itsanotherday, I certainly

Itsanotherday, I certainly hear what you are saying and I think you are not alone in your position. Like you, as a little girl, I came to accept Christ in a very small Baptist Church near Panama Beach. I still have very strong feelings about that little church and visit it once a year. Many of my family members are buried in the adjoining cemetery and I love keeping in contact with family and friends that are remaining.

However, as I have matured, I have experienced both large and small churches. And to be honest, like you, I find good and bad things in both of them. The details are obvious. And I will say that as God grew me and continues to grow me into the woman that He has designed for me to become, I have benefitted from both experiences; both large and small.

I believe that most of the hurt that people are experiencing in either place is about not feeling connected and about receiving the wrong messages.

As to the overkill on the monumental buildings, I understand your disagreement with it, particularly while encouraging and modelling indebtedness which is a form of bondage.

However, like Paul said, (paraphrased)..."With Christ, it doesn't matter what man messes up! God will redeem it." He uses it all, both the small and the large, the humble and the "over the top" to direct us and lead us into a personal relationship with Him, IF we invite Him into the experiences.

Our problem is we just get mad and run away! No, get mad and run to God!

At some time or another, we are all going to be disappointed in our minister, or staff members. I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me.

But here is the WONDERFUL NEWS, in that truth.
God doesn't want me to be satisfied with them and put them on a pedestal. It's just another form of idolatry for me to overcome. God wants me to depend on Him, to use everything, every experience, both good and hurtful to developed my character and bring me deeper into relationship with Him.

Man will fail me every time, but My God will never fail me.
I think it's some kind of awesome that God uses brokenness to bring healing, because He knew how much of it we would experience on this earth. He has used it to turn my life upside down and inside out and nothing, but pain, can achieve that kind of result. I love the Lord and nothing I feel about a building or a person will ever keep me from Him.

Anyone who is hurting from church/person disappointment may email me to receive information regarding spiritual counselling on this matter.

mike1sc
217
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mike1sc 12/19/11 - 03:08 pm
0
0
Its ironic that an article

Its ironic that an article like this is published when I just had a conversation with my wife the day before that about the only place we write checks to is our church. I think this is great and keeping with the times. We pay electronically with everything else, including the Chronicle. Why should payment to the church be any different? And this is not an article about "church", but instead on how times have changed and how we transfer our money from our checking account.

Great article....

allhans
23537
Points
allhans 12/19/11 - 04:24 pm
0
0
I think that what this is

I think that what this is about is the $7.50 processing fee. I prefer the church get all of my donation.
It doesn't cost a dime to put it in the collection plate when it come around.

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