Can LDS members pay tithing and offerings online or electronically? The answer is YES, WITH some qualifications. This post will answer your questions about this much-debated topic.
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We received the following statement from Church Headquarters regarding paying tithes and offering online:
“This program is an upon request program and we do not open it up to everyone in the church. We prefer that members contact the donations department directly to get the correct bill payment information. This helps the program run more efficiently by ensuring that the bill pays are set up correctly.
We need to set them up in our system and then send them the most up to date instructions for their bank. The bank or credit union the member is using will determine the instructions. Some banks will require different instructions so the instructions become unique to each donor.
Some banks seem simple enough but may be our biggest problem banks because members set it up without contacting our office first. If they do not do it exactly right or do not put in their membership number we will receive a physical check that needs to be manually entered. We receive hundreds of new bill pay checks from banks every week. Our department is small which makes this difficult to handle.
You may give members our phone number 801-240-2554 or our email email@example.com to get set up for bill pay and receive the correct instructions.
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This post is to try to clarify ALL the commentary about the ability to pay the Church Tithing and Offerings online or any other electronic manner. If you have desires to pay tithing and offerings in any other way than handing an envelope to the Bishopric, then read on.
First – there is a formal statement by the finance department at the Church that tries to clarify some. Here is the statement:
“The preferred method for making donations continues to be through the local ward unit. Those who have questions about electronic bill pay donations may call the LDS Donations Department at 801-240-2554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.“
That being said, the finance department has also said it “in NO WAY discourages members from paying online“.
With this in mind – the methods below will give you your options – WITH the pro’s and con’s of each.
Methods to Pay LDS Tithing and Offering Online
Method 1 – Pay LDS Tithing Using Your Bill Pay Service
IF you use a billpay service, via Quicken or through your bank or any other, where you can have your bank send a check (electronically from your perspective even though your bank actually sends a check) then you CAN set this up to have your tithing and offering paid automatically for you.
Here’s how to do it:
- Setup an automatic payment through your billpay service to your Ward – to be sent to your Bishop’s home
- You MUST note on the payment the allocation of the money – for example in the note field you need “Tithing=$100, FO=$50″, etc. Otherwise the Bishopric will have NO IDEA how your money is to be allocated and will have to call you and they won’t like you very much! IMPORTANT: Make sure your billpay service has the ability to display a long enough message on the billpay check to explain the allocation.
- You can setup your tithing and offerings to be automatically sent for you every month and you don’t have to manually write checks.
- You WON’T forget to pay your tithing! (because it’s automatic).
- Your tithing and offerings physically go through your Ward account so it all nicely shows up on your statement at the end of the year.
- Your Bishopric (or counselor) will have to get the check at their home and bring it to Church (could get lost in their junk mail?).
- Your Clerk (or Bishopric Counselor) will have to fill out your WHITE tithing form with your name and money allocation (they will get that from your check).
- You WILL NOT get a yellow copy of your donation, unless your Clerk is diligent enough to track you down to give it to you. DOUBTFUL! The Clerk will shred that once they fill it out.
Method 2 - Pay LDS Tithing Electronically Through Your Bank that Supports the LDS Church in Bill Pay
Some banks (Wells Fargo is the one example we know) actually has the LDS Church specified as a vendor in their Bill Pay system (broken down by “Tithing”, “Fast Off”, “Ward Missionary”, etc.). What that means is that instead of using Bill Pay to send a physical check to your Bishop, you can select the Church as a vendor to pay in Wells Fargo Bill Pay and it will send an electronic payment (no check) directly to the Church. We believe this will be the future of paying tithing and offerings online. This is the most efficient way to handle paying the Church. But that’s just our humble opinion (and we’re not the Church).
Here’s how to do it:
NOTE: SEE LETTER FROM CHURCH HEADQUARTERS ABOVE – CALL THEM TO GET SETUP
- You can setup recurring, automatic, electronic payments directly to the Church
- No need to EVER write a check and pay tithing and offerings the old fashioned way
- Your bank may not have accounts for every category of offerings. For example, you may need to give to one of your local “Other” accounts, which would need to be paid by writing a check to the local unit the “old fashioned” way.
- You can’t easily walk into the Clerk’s office and get a year-to-date tithing statement to see how much you’ve paid (but you may be able to get that in your online banking account).
- Your online payments may not show in your local Unit MLS account or on your year-end statement (may get a separate statement from Church HQ for your online payments).
- Your Bishop may not know how much tithes and offerings you pay (may be a “Pro”?) if it does not show in local MLS.
Method 3 - Pay LDS Church Headquarters DIRECTLY by Filling Out Electronic Form
This method has been in place for YEARS. It has typically been used for special circumstances where people are overseas, or have lots of money they would rather contribute directly to the Church, or a number of other reasons.
Here’s how to do it:
- With this method, you need to call Church Headquarters and get the electronic form to fill out and setup the method of payment. We do not know all the details about this method. Contact Church HQ for any further information. Contact information is at beginning of this post.
- Because we don’t know all the details we’re not sure of the “Pro’s and Con’s” of this method.
The reality is that the LDS Church is adopting technology in a BIG way when it comes to taking the gospel to the world. On the other hand, the Church is typically slower at adopting the latest technology for internal purposes like collecting money and processing offerings. That may be beginning to change. Keep your eye on this blog for any changes that we come across.