Blog Articles

Posted on 
November 19, 2018

Paper Checks & Charities & Innovation

Some of you will remember the days when you’d take your family to a nice restaurant, have a lovely meal, and then dig deep into your pocket or purse for something called a “checkbook”---you’d then take your checkbook up to the register and pay for your meal.  Oftentimes, you’d see a collection of bad checks posted behind the register as “shining examples” of checks that had bounced and were never collected upon. These memorable check writing experiences now seem like ancient history as in modern times you can now wave your contactless credit card to pay or even pay via a mobile app without even having to get out your wallet or purse.  Suffice it to say, times have changed!

So, why do nonprofits and churches continue to receive a sizable segment of their annual contributions in the form of a paper check?  First and foremost, legacy donors oftentimes actually prefer writing checks as opposed to giving electronically. Second, most para-church & charitable organizations send out direct mail campaign appeals or have a designated envelope giving system that helps tie paper check contributions to designated giving causes.  These factors simply haven’t been altered by modern payment trends and thus paper checks are still a donor giving mainstay.

For the organization that receives the check contribution, there is a considerable amount of time and energy spent in the back office handling of paper checks. From sorting and opening the mail to updating the constituent record in the donor management system to depositing the check in the bank and finally updating the accounting records, the entire process is often times manual and prime for errors.  In fact, accounting for check contributions is an extremely tedious process unless you establish an intake process built around what’s called Remote Deposit Capture.

According to Digital Check:

“Remote deposit got its start in 2003 with the passage of the Check 21 Act, which gave scanned images of checks the same legal standing as the original paper documents. The primary reason for the Check 21 Act was to speed up the check clearing process between banks, by allowing them to exchange check images rather than the original physical checks…”

The majority of banks nationwide now offer a Remote Deposit Capture service for their business customers (which includes nonprofits/churches), BUT most banks only save time by providing the organization with an electronic deposit option.  The organization still has to account for the donor data record keeping including having to manually find the donor’s profile in their database/CRM, associate the giving designation to the correct fund, and perform manual data searches and key entry (which could potentially result in errors or even data oversight).

Paperless Transactions has been a leader in the check scanning and Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) space since 1998 and (as opposed to a bank) fully optimizes the back office handling of paper checks-from powering the scanning software that scan captures the financial and donor data to even providing the direct systems integrations to some of the largest CRM’s and databases in the nonprofit/church industry.  Paperless Transactions can help your organization reduce back office inefficiencies and increase financial and donor data automation.

Contact a Paperless Transactions team member if you’d like to find out how we can help your organization!