“We’re aware that younger generations — and there are many people now who don’t carry cash — want to give in different ways. Enabling them to give in a way that suits people is something we’d like to try.”

John Preston, National Stewardship & Resources officer
Financial Times, 23 June 2017

Contactless Giving

Card readers

A contactless card reader is a small terminal that enables donations to be made to your church via contactless debit or credit card, or by using Apple / Android pay on  your smartphone or watch, up to a value of £30.

They can be useful in several different ways – from enabling collections at special services and festivals, to taking payment for sales at church cafés and other social events.

You will need to select the right one for your church, depending on how much you want to spend and how you plan to use it. To find out more, visit www.parishbuying.org.uk

Watch our videos on contactless readers and QR codes

Mobile phone giving can include online donations, text giving or QR codes.

A QR code is a unique picture tile made up of small black and white squares, such as the example on this page, that can be read by the camera or a QR code reader app on a smartphone. It can be displayed digitally as well as being added onto anything that you print on paper, such as a pew card, an order of service, parish magazine or card. The code can also be read through plastic or glass, for example on a sign or noticeboard. GiveALittle, our recommended online donations provider, provides you with a downloadable QR code for every “campaign” you create. You can read more about GiveALittle here.

If you are looking for an alternative you might like to try Thyngs through Parish Buying. Thyngs is usually more expensive than GiveALittle but does come with the option to access NFC (Near Field Communication) tiles. Additionally, other online donation providers like PayPal and JustGiving usually give you the option to download a QR code.

Donation QR Code

Contactless in the press

Contactless collection plate tried out at York

Church Times, 12 July 2019

WORSHIPPERS attending the York Minster service for the General Synod last Sunday found themselves trying out the latest in high-tech donating when the collection plate turned out to be a contactless-payment terminal. Click here to read more.

Church of England collection plates pass into the digital era

Financial Times, 24 June 2017

The centuries-old ritual of passing round the church collection plate is going digital with plans by the Church of England to use the “tap and go” contactless payment system for donations. Click here to read more.

Case studies

St Kenelm, Minster Lovell

St Kenelm’s Church is part of the Witney benefice and was built in the 1450s by the 7th Baron Lovell. The church receives many visitors each year, attracted by the nearby ruins of Minster Lovell hall.

As cash donations began to decline, the PCC considered acquiring a contactless card reader. Click here to read their story.

Holy Trinity, Theale

Theale Church is a Grade 1 listed building and a wonderful architectural treasure. It was modelled on Salisbury cathedral, consecrated in 1832 and was once sketched by renowned artist John Constable.

In summer 2019, they volunteered to trial the contactless offering plate. Treasurer, Stephen Bridge, writes about their experience here.


“We trialled the GBx Mini card reader during August 2019. The feedback from congregation members was that it was quick and easy to use. The trial proved to be a success and the PCC has now given the go-ahead to purchase one. We recommend the use of card readers to other churches.”

“I am happy to recommend the GoodBox Core. It is quick, convenient and well received by the givers. The ability to hold gift data when out of signal range is a real bonus. The existence of the kit also gives the Minister an opportunity to just simply raise the subject of a collection in service, which avoids any potential embarrassment with the less regular visitors in the congregation.”

“The congregation has actually happily accepted the unit, with a small core of people who have chosen to make this their regular way of giving. We decided to name the unit “Zac” (after Zacchaeus – the small tax collector!) and this has particularly endeared him/it to the younger families. “Zac” is now an accepted member of the church, and we continue to promote his use at every service.”

Frequently asked questions

There are two main categories of card reader:

Attended units
Attended use means that someone must operate the card reader in order to take a payment, just like in a shop.

Self-service units
Unattended or “self-service” devices allow a donation to be made without having an operator present. Some devices can be secured, so that they can be left in churches that are open to visitors during the week; others are best used only when the building is staffed, or for retiring collections.

A card reader can be useful in several different ways – from collections at regular services, or occasional services and festivals (such as Easter or Christmas), to taking payment for sales at church cafés and other social events.

The National Stewardship team has negotiated discounted rates with several different suppliers of contactless devices, including Goodbox, Payacharity, iZettle and SumUp. Card readers start from as little as £19 excl VAT, depending on features and functionality, such as being able to take donations “offline”.

Is there a monthly charge?

Some suppliers have a monthly support fee and some have a ‘per transaction’ fee. For detailed pricing, visit the Parish Buying website. Note that you will need to register for a free account to access full information.

Some devices do not require permanent Wi-Fi or mobile signal in order to take donations, as they have a SIM card in them and can store transactions offline. The device will capture the card data and will store this until you are back in an area with signal. When the device has picked up signal, it will push these transactions through to the acquirer for processing. This is called a Deferred Authorisation.

No personal data is captured during a contactless transaction; however, churches can gift aid on contactless donations of £30 or less, under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS).

For more information – go to the Parish Resources page on GASDS.

Opening an account with a Card Payment Services Provider is similar to opening a bank account, and should be authorised or confirmed by the PCC, and evidenced by a PCC resolution. You can read more about good governance and management here.

Parish Buying – contactless donation devices www.parishbuying.org.uk/contactless

Parish Resources – digital giving page

Contact the Generous Giving adviser Joshua Townson at the diocese of Oxford on 01865 208757.