“Venmo the Temple!”

Xerox is the first company I can remember that became a verb for the action it was best known for. For Baby Boomers, when Xerox’s duplicating technology became a staple in many offices, anytime you needed to copy a college paper or materials to be distributed at a meeting, you had to go “Xerox”. Even after Xerox’s patent ended, and the office copier was made by Canon or another company, “Xerox” rather than copy became the active verb.

As a quick aside, I just read an article that Xerox is in the process of being bought by the Fuji Film Company.

Of course, my daughter introduced me to Venmo. Not being of the writing check generation, she would owe me money for her cell phone or something she purchased using my credit card. She became frustrated when she wanted to pay me back through Venmo, and I was still preferring cash or check. This is how she and her friends pay each other back for food, treats, and other purchases they incur conducting the business of being friends and being social.

So with her encouragement, I downloaded the Venmo app. Entered in my bank account information. When my daughter pays me back through Venmo, once I receive a message that “Dani paid me $50”, all I have to do is open the app and with two clicks, the $50 is deposited in my bank account the next day.

Venmo is a company owned by PayPal. It was created by a couple of college freshmen at Penn who sold the company in 2012 to Braintree for $26 million. A year later, PayPal acquired Venmo for $800 million.

And now we are seeing ads everywhere for Zelle, a similar company owned by a number of banks – Bank of America, CapitalOne, among others. Makes sense! This is how Millennials, and even some parents of millennials, are conducting the business of their lives.

It was not too long ago that synagogues were only accepting dues/annual commitment payments by check. Then congregants wanted to reap the benefits of credit card mileage plans. And as organizational leaders became concerned about credit card fees, electronic fund transfers – “EFTs” came on to the scene, typically with no fee involved.

PayPal will soon be making Venmo available to not-for-profit organizations, and houses of worship, too.  It has been in a Beta test for a while. And initially, it may just be available to institutions that currently utilize PayPal as a payment option.

Venmo is really like an EFT. The money comes out of one bank account and ends up in another bank account. Once of course it makes the journey from the Venmo app on one’s phone. And you do have the option of paying with a credit card to take advantage of mileage programs – for a fee that typically runs between 1.8% and 3%.

Millennials are the generation now beginning to join synagogues. When Venmo, or Zelle, becomes available to not-for-profit organizations, your synagogue should incorporate it as a payment option. A financial transaction with the synagogue – “Venmo the Temple” – should be similar to the other financial transactions in their lives.

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