The other day I received an email reminding me to pay my Verizon bill. I am “old school” when it comes to paying our monthly bills. I use Quicken for our checkbook and on the first of each month, print the checks for all of the bills that need to be paid, and drop them off at the post office. As an aside, it should be noted that several years ago the post office removed the mailbox on our street due to lack of use.
Anyway, I decided to follow the link and pay my Verizon bill online. I could use a credit or debit card and incur a $2.00 transaction fee. Or I could pay by an electronic fund transfer from my checking or savings account for a $.45 transaction fee. Less than the cost of a stamp! While I like United Miles as much as the next person, $.45 seemed like the best way to go.
The first “Statement” from our synagogue came the other day as well. I can also pay by credit or debit card. But there will be a transaction fee of 2%. Online payments are not yet an option.
This is okay for old school guys like me. But what will younger people think?
Millennials are our future congregants. Born between 1980 and 2005, they are the age cohort that we all hope to be welcoming to our synagogue communities in the coming years. There are 74 million of them, a group that is even larger than the baby boomers. And as we know – particularly as parents of Millennials – they have grown up with technology at their fingertips.
By 2025, Millennials will account for 46% of the nation’s income.
What will the 34 year-old – with a 2-year-old baby and one on the way – think when she receives the synagogue’s initial “statement”? Put aside the amount of money for the moment. She conducts the business of her life by making online payments with a credit or debit card, or simply waving her telephone. In her mind, to become a member of the synagogue she is charged an extra fee. Or should she just accept the fact that she will need a check to pay for her synagogue dues?
Along with the invoice, there was a general letter, a budget breakdown, information about ARZA, and a survey included. Maybe I am coming around to new school thinking here, but I have to ask about whether it would be more cost effective to send this important packet via email. QuickBooks and other similar financial programs have the capability to send invoices electronically, and send multiple pages. If the office staff can master the technology, sending such information electronically would be a significant savings in both time and money (paper, envelope, ink, and postage).
Two years ago, I wrote a blogpost on this topic that talks about “high tech” as actually being “high touch”. If we want to encourage Millennials to be part of our sacred communities, then we have to have the technology to meet them where they are at. This is not to say that synagogues should go totally paperless, and totally electronic. I know there are a handful of congregants at my synagogue who don’t have email addresses.
Rather, we need multiple channels for communication and transactions so no one feels excluded.