The Square: If I Can Do It, So Can You! Part 1

The Square: If I Can Do It, So Can You! Part 1

                               The Square in Use! Photo by Greg Nelson

Confession time: I have been afraid of the Square. Although I have written about it a number of times and touted its virtues, I have not had the nerve to actually implement it in my own church. The Square, for those of you scratching your head, is a way for people to give using a credit card. Already used in many small businesses (think coffee shops, Etsy, nail salons, etc.), it’s also used in many churches.
I faced my Square-fear knowing that you, dear readers, would be right with me. I’ll share with you how my church implemented the Square from start to still-being-a-work-in-progress. No doubt, your church or organization will have a different experience – but this may give you encouragement to wade in the Square water.
As with most new things, it’s never quite as easy as it seems. Months ago, three of us began meeting to figure the Square out for our church. Through our angst, trial and error, and making many extra “offerings” to the church just to be sure the system worked (God encourages generosity one way or the other), our system is finally in place.

In the “If I Had to Do it All Over Again” category, the very first thing I would do is… develop a budget.
For the smaller church, you can probably get by with a willing volunteer’s smart phone and the Square “dongle” (isn’t that the most fun word to say? Dongle. Hahahaha!). The “dongle” is also known here as the “Square magstripe.” It’s plugged into the headphone jack of the device.
Larger churches (it’s all relative, I know) – those with attendance above 100 every Sunday – probably should set aside $500 to get things going. You may have some of these items already on hand so your costs could be significantly less.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A computer tablet. To see what tablets the Square works with, click here. These devices will support both the credit card magstripe and the chip card reader. I already had an ipad mini (with a cracked face) that we decided to use. See if someone in your congregation has an unused tablet sitting around. Investment: $200-$400
A Square Stand. The Stand is an all-in-one device that will read the credit card’s magstripe and comes with a chip reader. Unfortunately for us, my ipad was a “mini” and the standard Stand does not support minis. Fortunately, there was someone in North Carolina who makes Square Stands for the mini. Someone also gave me a chip reader and its dock for free. More on my benefactor next week. Investment: $170
A “giving” table: To make this really work, it’s helpful to have a taller table where people can easily stand, write, and give. Currently we’re sharing a table with the “Welcome Station.” With a separate table we’ll be able to truly expand to provide “giving cards” to celebrate people’s time, talent, electronic offering, and prayers with laminated cards so that they can put something in the offering plate. Read here how we envision that happening. We also plan to have the table match the one that’s already there so there’s no hodge-podge look. Investment: $200
A box to carry the tablet, Square Stand, and card reader: Obviously with an investment like this, you don’t want to leave the expensive stuff sitting around. Our ipad mini and stand plus everything else (cords, the card reader, and materials) all fit nicely in a mobile file folder case. Investment: $15
That’s it for this week. Next week, I’ll walk you through our implementation process. Let me just say that in the last two weeks alone, we’ve brought in over $1,000 using the Square. People have given to a variety of things: the general offering, special Sunday giving, Backpack Buddies, and the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund. Some have even bought tickets to the Youth Auction. It’s working. And no one has freaked out.
Fear is definitely overrated. I’ve stared down my Square fear. If I can do it, you can too!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Next fear to overcome: developing a website. Pray for her. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.