While I was on staff at CLCV, I wrote this sample script for phone canvassers who encountered a frequent objection: The person on the phone did not want to contribute immediately with a credit card. The facts in the script were entirely true, and they gave callers something to back up their claim that processing checks actually cost more than processing credit card contributions.
“It’s funny — after I told another supporter that “using your credit card lowers our administrative costs,” he/she [use same gender as supporter] said, ‘more than a check? That seems odd.’
“So I checked with Mark, our administrative guy, and this is what he told me, basically pleading for me to make sure people give on their debit or credit cards:
“When we generate a mail pledge, someone has to enter the pledge into our database. That takes roughly the same amount of time as entering a credit card transaction.
“When we receive the check, someone else has to go back into the database to see what pledge it was in response to. Sometimes it’s not even always that clear who gave us the check if the information doesn’t match exactly, so we have to figure that out.
“Then a different person has to go through the check deposit process. (That involves writing out a deposit slip, copying the checks, and waiting around in line at the bank.) Then the check has to be entered into the books (our accounting records). We have to pay someone else to do that. Then there is a bank reconciliation process (we have to make sure our records match theirs).
“These things are all done by different people at different times. Also, at least 50% of mail pledges are not fulfilled, which costs a lot. The reminder mailings we send out to people who haven’t fulfilled their pledges generate an additional cost. Some of that is wasted when checks cross in the mail with our reminder mailing. This all wastes a lot of actual paper, as well.
“So it costs us time and money to chase down checks, and it ultimately takes more of your time as well.
“When you use your credit card over the phone tonight, your donation will be entered into the database and deposited electronically tonight by a single person. Since we can generate reports from the credit card service instantly, the bank reconciliation process is much easier. And only three people are involved in that process from start to finish. Yes, there is a small fee of about 3% for using a credit or debit card, but it is extremely small compared to the vast amount it costs for six or seven people to do the arduous mail pledge process.
“Would you like to make your gift on a MasterCard, Visa, or American Express?”