Then I stumbled upon Square.
Square is simple. From the little one inch by one inch plastic reader that plugs into the headphone jack on your phone (iOS or android) to the flat 2.75% fee per swipe to the super-straightforward, free app there is one word to describe it: simple.
Did I mention cheap? All you have to do to get the reader is give them basic accounting information and they mail it, at no charge, to your home or office a couple days later. How do they make money? Most places charge variable rate fee from 2.5%-5% per transaction and a $0.15 per transaction fee. Some level the percentage to three or three and a half, but square is cheap and simple. 2.75% per card swipe transaction.
The Square app is super easy to use. All you do is download the app, plug in the dongle, log in and you are ready to take a payment. To do that, you enter the amount and an optional description (we put the budget line item and the event) and swipe their card. They are then taken to a signature screen where they can sign with a finger or stylus if you have one. When they press the continue button, they are prompted to enter a cell number or email address where the app immediately sends a link to a receipt for the transaction. The money is then deposited (one lump sum deposit per day) into whichever account you provide.
You then have access to all that data (minus the full card number) in their clean, user friendly site which will allow you to download it in excel format with a ton of data attached to each transaction.
A couple of weeks ago I was stopped on Sunday morning on my way to the youth area by a member who said that he was sorry that he had not yet brought me his donation for a fundraiser. He never has his checkbook at church. I told him that I could take a credit card, and he was relieved. I plugged in the square dongle, opened the app, swiped his card and it was done. Brilliant.
Simple, cheap and brilliant, but not perfect. If you want to use this for multiple ministries, it may get difficult. You will have to sort through all the transactions to figure out which one went to which ministry. It would be nice if they could have sub-accounts to break things out easily.
Overall, I am telling everyone I meet to stop whatever they are doing, go to the Square website and start making life easier for them and their members.