In recent weeks, I had occasion to visit a few different doctors offices. I have always been amazed at all of the notes that are posted in the reception areas that seem to always be about the insurance that a particular doctor does not accept, or that if you don’t cancel within 24 hours of your appointment, you will be charged for the visit. I keep hoping one of the notes will read that if the doctor does not see you within 20 minutes of your scheduled appointment, the visit is free.
Maybe some day.
With the move to electronic record keeping, medical offices have become more tech-savvy with both their record keeping and payment methods. At one doctor, I was a little taken aback that the only forms of payment taken were cash or check. Of course this was the only doctor that had yet to move to an online patient portal. Even for this old school doctor without the patient portal, and others like him, it is only a matter of time I think before credit card acceptance will be the norm rather than the exception.
Payment methods for congregants at synagogues have been evolving as well. Maybe a bit slower than medical offices, but evolving nonetheless. 10 years ago, synagogues that accepted credit cards for payment of dues/annual commitments were the exception. Today, there is still a concern by synagogue leaders about the processing fees. As electronic payments become the norm for conducting the business of one’s personal life, synagogues do have to be more open and nimble in the forms of payment accepted.
A recent blog I wrote addressed the steps involved in processing payments, both credit cards and old-fashioned checks. While often times there are no fees, or minimal fees, involved in processing checks, it does take a few more steps and probably more time than other forms of electronic payments.
Electronic Fund Transfers – also known as EFTs- seems to be the most economic form of payment. The funds come right out of your checking account. All you have to provide are bank routing and checking account numbers – the two sets of numbers that are always found on the bottom of any physical check.
Who knows what the future will bring in terms of forms of payments. You can be sure that at some point there will no doubt be other new and easier ways for people to conduct the business of their lives – which includes making payments to synagogues. Synagogue leaders should meet congregants where they are at – and not make paying the synagogue a “foreign” experience.
Credit Card Postscript
I don’t claim to be clairvoyant. A couple of months ago, my blog addressed the issue of the new credit cards with electronic chips and how this will impact synagogues. The bottom line remains that if synagogues don’t update their credit card processing machines, the liability for any fraud will no longer fall to the credit card companies, but to the vendors processing payments – such as synagogues.
Last week, NBC Nightly News did a feature story on this topic.
What can you do? Be sure to check with your bank and credit card company that you have the most up to date processing machines and/or software. And remind your congregants about the upcoming changes as well.