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Sunnybank parish launches electronic collection plates offering a new way for parishioners to give

Charity tech: Sunnybank and Acacia Ridges parishes’ Rey Tubelleza holding the two electronic collection plates. Photo: Alan Edgecomb

FUMBLING coins at the bottom of your wallet or purse, or altogether forgetting cash may well be problems of the past as another parish trials electronic collection plates.

Sunnybank parish joined Caloundra parish as the second parish in Brisbane archdiocese trialling electronic collection plates.

Sunnybank parish administrator Fr Stephen Camiolo said it was a good idea because in many ways we had become a cashless society.

“And a lot of people, especially younger people, they don’t carry notes or coins.

“So it’s just an opportunity to help with technology they’re used to.”

Fr Camiolo said the parish finance council had been looking at adding electronic collection plates for months.

Sunnybank has trialled two electronic collection plates and is on its third week this weekend.

He said on the first week the parish recorded 27 taps at a pre-set amount of $5 by just having two people stand outside the front doors.

Two plates were not enough to cover the whole church, so it was only a limited trial.

Fr Camiolo said it was simple for parishioners to use.

The plates are fashioned like a regular collection plate except one section has an electronic transaction surface, where you can tap a debit or credit card to pay out a pre-set dollar amount.

He also said, as a parish, it was easy to operate the technology.

“The parish manager, she can download the information on Monday morning – how many were times they were used (and) the dollar value, and then it just goes into the account,” Fr Camiolo said.

But he said this technology would not replace traditional methods of giving.

“All revenues have to be available for people and not everyone likes to tap, and others like to donate, all different courses for different people – we’re trying to be an inclusive church,” he said.

“If the tapping works for them, if the cash works for them, envelopes, direct debit, all to help people and to support the mission that we’re doing that’s what we’re here for.”

Fr Camiolo said it was just Sunnybank parish keeping up with the 21st Century.

Tap and pray, as it’s called in Caloundra, has been available since mid-April and parish services manager Don Rolls said it had been well received by the community.

Mr Rolls said the number of people using the technology had been great.

“And it’s interesting that the common comment is it’s a great way to go because (the parishioners) don’t carry cash anymore,” he said.

Importantly the tap and pray system hasn’t replaced any other payment methods – cash is still accepted – but it is a new way to give.

Mr Rolls said it was easy technology to use from both a parish and parishioner perspective.

“We have them sitting at the front of the church and when people either enter or leave the church they can just tap on,” he said.

“Ours are preset to $10.”

He said there were no receipts, so all parishioners needed was to tap their card, it took about two seconds and then the plate says – completed and thank you for the donation.

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