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January 11, 2021
There are countless ways you can pay or donate money these days—Apple Pay, text giving, Venmo, credit cards, debit cards, online, and cold, hard cash. Amidst all of this technology, we occasionally forget an age-old method—the personal check.
When I was in sixth grade, our math teacher did an entire month on personal finances. We had to write fake checks for fictional utilities and bills. We had to balance a theoretical checkbook. Even though I rarely use checks now, I still got good practice filling them out.
For that reason, I’m probably an anomaly by today’s standards. According to a study, about four in 10 Americans almost never use checks for anything.. And personal check usage is on a steady decline. Many people have forgotten how to write a check altogether. And at Tithe.ly, in their church giving statistics, they’ve seen a steady trend toward donating online and with mobile devices.
Which explains the need for blog posts like this one. Because whether your a church leader or just someone hoping to give to your local church, writing personal checks is still an appropriate skill.
Here, we’re going to breakdown the following:
Let’s dig in!
Most of us know a check when we see one—even if we rarely use them. However, do you know what each section of the check means? Here are some insights into the different parts of a check.
The numbers below correspond to the numbers listed on the fake check above:
1. Your name and address. This verifies who the check is from. Hopefully, that’s you.
2. Check number. Did you notice that each of the checks has a sequential number in the corner? This is based on how many checks you’ve written from this account. The same number also shows up at the bottom of the check after the routing and account numbers.
3. Date: This is where you write the date you wrote the check. Who would have guessed?
4. Pay to the order of. This is who the check is being made out to. Try to get this right.
5. Dollar amount. This includes a box where you write the check amount in digits and a line where you write out the same amount in text. Make sure they match up.
6. For/Memo. This is a way for you to signify what this check is being written for.
7. Signature line. You need to sign a check to verify that it had your approval to be deposited or cashed. This is an important step to keeping your money safe.
8. Routing number. The first set of digits along the bottom is your bank’s ABA number to let people know where the money will be coming from.
9. Account number. This second set of digits is your specific checking account number.
10. Endorsement line. If you flip over a check to the back, you’ll notice another line. This is where the person depositing the check will sign. This makes sure it is only deposited once.
For people over the age of 40, it might be insulting to assume they don’t know how to write a check. For people under the age of 20, it might be too much to assume they even know what a check is. Either way, there are still some best practices when it comes to writing a check:
Despite the wide range of payment options available to us, there are still times when writing a check is your best option. You still need to make sure you’re doing so safely, but here are some situations when to rely on a personal check.
Obviously, these aren’t the only times you can use a personal check for payment. These are just some of the instances when they might be a better idea than a credit card or cash. It really depends on the situation and your personal preference.
Knowing when to use a check and where to put the right information gets you most of the way there. However, there are plenty of other tips you should keep in mind when using a check—especially if you’re not used to paying this way.
For church leaders, tithes via personal checks may be a good source of income, but are an unreliable method of securing financial stability as a church when compared to digital church giving. At Tithe.ly, in our analysis of the 25,000+ churches that use our service, we have seen that churches who lean heavily on digital recurring giving methods (such as Tithe.ly Giving) produce a 165% increase in giving year-over-year.
The best way to achieve financial stability for your church in the 21st century is to follow these steps:
It's important to know how to collect checks as a means of giving. But increasingly, it is important for churches to encourage their congregations to give digitally so that their own finances can be more stable, congregants are not forced to opt in to giving every Sunday, and the ease-of-use barrier to giving is almost erased by the technology that you use. If you implement these strategies, you'll find that the time cost of check writing and processing is a beautiful way that people used to give, but won't be sustainable as time, business wisdom, and technological progress marches on.