If Girl Scouts are doing it, will congregations be next?

200 Girl Scout troops in Ohio now take credit cards for cookies. One council reported a 20% increase in sales once they started using GoPayment, a little gadget that attaches to a smart phone, takes your money, and sends a receipt to your email address. Here’s a video from the Associated Press showing how they do it. And if you’re wondering how much it costs the Girl Scouts to take payment this way, here’s the scoop from a print version of this AP article:

Intuit, the Mountain View-based company that manufactures GoPayment, charges a small fee per transaction and offers various pricing plans to customers based on sale volume…. Intuit charges the Girl Scouts its lowest rate, at 1.6 percent plus 15 cents per transaction. Most customers pay 2.7 percent per transaction. [San Mateo County Times, 26 March 2011, p. A2]

As fewer and fewer people carry ready cash, this is an obvious way for the Girl Scouts to try to increase sales. But would it work for congregations who pass the collection plate in their services? If you watch the video, it’s obvious the transaction would take too long for the average offertory. It might possibly work for bake sales, rummage sales, ticket sales and the like, but my guess is that the cost is too high and the sales volume too low to make it worthwhile. If congregations want to fight their way out of the dark ages of cash transactions, my guess is that we’re going to have to change the way we do things — but I don’t know what that’s going to look like.