What makes your donation on ucc.org secure?
1. Well one thing to look for is a web address beginning with https:// instead of http:// (The s being for secure)
2. A padlock icon appears in the Status Bar (bottom of browser)
Some of you may see a ! or ? next to the padlock icon on UCC donation pages, this only means that some items (in our case the videos) on the page are loaded from a "unsecure" location - but this does not affect the security of the donation form in any way.
3. The "Norton Secured" logo under the Section Menu on the right is a symbol of a secured website, clicking on the logo will give you the details of the active security certificate covering this site:
In newer versions of internet explorer this confusing message may pop-up:
The answer you want to click is "no" for the reason listed above, some items (in our case the videos) on the page are loaded from a "unsecure" location - but this does not affect the security of the donation form in any way. But clicking either yes or no will still allow you to continue on to the page and complete your donation.
How Convio supports us in taking secure donations online (Convio is the provider of our internet services)
Online donation processing is an excellent way to reduce costs and manual tasks associated with direct fundraising. However, using the Internet for donation processing requires stringent security processes. Here are a few key issues to consider:
SSL Does Not Necessarily Make It Secure
Many people talk about their "secure" Web sites when they actually mean that the communication between the Web browser (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer® and Netscape®) and the Web server is encrypted using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a standard set of Internet communication rules, for managing the security of message transmissions over the Internet. While using SSL is essential, it is one minor element of an overall security architecture.
People who hack, or break into, Web servers, typically do not do it by tapping into connections from browsers. Instead, they do it by attacking other weak points, including the human element. In fact, about 80 percent* of successful online "break-ins" involve simply stealing passwords to gain access. Therefore, any organization should carefully consider end-to-end security processes before offering online donation processing on its Web site. (note: The UCC gives very few people
Storing Credit Card Numbers
Another key concern is securing credit card numbers once the Web site has accepted them. Smaller e-commerce software providers are often lax about this aspect of security, so organizations should be careful to understand a provider"s security policies before using the company"s services for online transactions.
In addition, many organizations encrypt their Web databases, mistakenly believing that this protects the data. However, a hacker who breaks into a server gets not only the encrypted data, but also the decryption keys and software, enabling them to obtain the card numbers. There is also the risk of a security breach if credit card data is available to staff members.
The only truly safe solution, which Convio's online software uses, is both simple and bulletproof: Do not store credit card numbers at all. Convio"s donation processing capabilities authorize credit cards in real time, and then immediately discard the card number. Follow-up transactions, including refunds or monthly donations, are processed using one-time reference codes that are tied to the nonprofit's account and useless to a fraudster. Card numbers are only stored by the payment gateway, or the system that manages transactions and connects the Internet to banking networks, whose systems are highly secure.
Fraud is Not the Issue, It's Carding
Most online transactions are e-commerce purchases, where a company ships goods or other items of value in response to a purchase. So, anti-fraud measures typically are designed to prevent the fraudster from receiving the merchandise. A fraudster has nothing to gain from a counterfeit donation, however, so these measures typically are not useful to nonprofits.
A practice known as "carding," though, is an issue for nonprofits. Fraudsters use a low-dollar online donation to test the validity of guessed or stolen card numbers. Although carding does not defraud the nonprofit, the organization is burdened by the administrative work required to issue a refund to the real credit card holder. Until recently, the only solution was for an organization to use software that monitored the Web site for failed transactions. Today, however, use of additional CVV2 security codes (the 3-4 digit additional numbers on credit cards) is a promising alternative. Unlike the old Address Verification System (AVS), CVV2 was designed for automated fraud protection, and is gaining ground in the USA. (Note: Convio's September product release will offer CVV2 support for all transaction types.)
Annuitant The individual who receives lifetime payments from a gift annuity.
Annuity/Gift Annuity An irrevocable gift which pays income for life to one or two recipients (annuitants); the rate of return is based on the age(s) of the annuitant(s) at the time the gift is funded.
Appreciated Property Property, such as real estate or securities, that has a value greater than its cost basis.
Capital Gains, Realized Capital Gains The excess of money received from the sale of property over the original amount paid for the property (cost basis).
Charitable Income Tax Deduction The amount a donor can deduct on a federal income tax return (if the donor itemizes) for a charitable gift.
Charitable Lead Trust A gift which provides fixed or variable current income for church or charity for the life of the donor or for a term of years, after which the remaining principal reverts to the donor or donor's heirs.
Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust An irrevocable gift which pays a fixed dollar amount annually to one or more income beneficiaries for life or for a term of years, after which the principal becomes a gift to the church or charity designated by the donor.
Charitable Remainder Unitrust An irrevocable gift which pays a fixed percentage of the Trust's value, as revalued annually, to one or more income beneficiaries for life or for a term of years, after which the principal becomes a gift to the church or charity designated by the donor.
Charitable Remainder Beneficiary, Charitable Beneficiary The charity identified by the donor in a gift contract to receive the remaining principal after the life income beneficiaries' death or termination of contract.
Codicil An addition or amendment to a will.
Cost Basis The original cost of property plus improvements and other expenses paid by the owner during the period of ownership.
Deferred Gifts Another term for planned gift, i.e. a carefully considered way of giving out of one's accumulated assets that is prearranged through a will, a trust, or other life income agreement that may provide lifetime income for one or more individuals, where upon their deaths the remaining principal will go to the named charitable beneficiary.
Deferred Payment Gift Annuity Identical to a Gift Annuity except that instead of income payments beginning immediately, they begin at a future date specified by the donor. This usually has the effect of increasing the rate of return.
Endowment A fund whose principal is held in perpetuity, and income only is distributed.
Executor/Executrix The individual named in a will to settle the testator's estate.
Federal Estate Tax The tax imposed on the transfer of property upon death.
Federal Gift Tax The tax imposed on the transfer of property during the lifetime of the donor. This tax is paid by the donor.
Intestate Dying without a will.
Life Expectancy An estimated calculation of the number of years a person will live from any particular age.
Memorial Gift A gift in memory of a deceased individual.
Pooled Income Fund A life-income gift which functions like a mutual fund, in that each income recipient receives lifetime quarterly payments based on her/his proportion of the Fund. Gifts are irrevocable, may name one or two persons as income recipients, and pay the remaining principal to the church or charity designated by the donor.
Prospect An individual identified as being a potential donor.
Residuary Clause A clause in a will that bequeaths or devises property not already disposed of earlier in the will.
Revocable Trust A life-income gift which pays a fixed percentage of the trust's value, as revalued annually, to one or more income beneficiaries for life; however, the donor may make withdrawals from principal or revoke the trust entirely. No tax deduction is available to the donor at the time the trust is established.
Secondary Beneficiary The person named in a gift agreement to receive the life income payments should the primary beneficiary predecease him or her.
Testamentary Trust A trust created by a provision in a person's will.
Testator The individual making a will.
Trustee The individual or institution that is responsible for administering a trust.
Trust Principal The assets of a trust.
In recent years more and more churches, both denominations and local churches, have been engaged in helping members do planned giving—the giving of gifts of accumulated assets either in the giver's lifetime or after death. Often when a church begins exploration to establish a planned giving fund, or endowment fund, there is debate among members as to whether a church should be accumulating assets. Should a church establish an endowment fund?
Yes, there are faithful reasons for doing so. The first reason is that God has called those of us who follow Jesus Christ to be stewards. Douglas John Hall, Canadian theologian, in his book The Steward; A Biblical Symbol Come of Age, writes that stewardship "describes the whole posture called 'Christian.' Being stewards we have a relationship first of all to God, the creator, then to other human beings, then to nonhuman creatures, and towards Earth, our common home. Assets, whether they be land, money, stocks, or real estate are a part of what God has called us to relate to in a faithful way so that we can relate to the other aspects of creation more faithfully.
Yes, the assets can be spent as soon as they are given, but a well-organized and thoughtthrough plan for receiving such assets and for the use of the income provides the opportunity for the mission of the church to continue through many years to come. A man came to his minister when she had first come to his church and said, "Do you know anything about endowments? I will be giving a great deal of money to this church when I die and I would like to see our church plan for receiving such assets as I plan to give so that our church can widen its ministry and mission to others. I would like to see the assets I give to the church go on in perpetuity to serve those in need." Generous as he was in life, he was concerned that a good plan be put into place.
Some people are concerned that an endowment fund will choke off regular, faithful and proportionate giving by members because "we have all that money." If the assets are invested wisely, and guidelines are established that direct the income to new mission, mission only for others, or in some cases major capital projects, then this kind of giving does not "choke off' regular annual giving to the church. A well-planned endowment policy enables members of churches who have considerable assets to give to their church in a way that is faithful and will further the realm of God on earth.
The church that has concern for socially responsible investments can invest its endowment assets through United Church Funds ensuring that their investments are socially responsible. As stockholders in corporations, church members can exert influence on those corporations so that they are socially responsible.
The income from endowments enables many churches to reach far beyond what they would be able to do through the yearly pledges of their members and the annual budget. Churches have begun retirement homes, sponsored children in other countries, resettled refugees, started youth centers, given scholarships to people who wish to receive seminary training, begun a new program with "start up" money from the investments, made their church building accessible to persons who are differently abled, supported mission schools in countries where women rarely receive education, and a host of other important and needed ministries. One church with a relatively small amount of money endowed to it in the early 1900's sent over fifty people to seminary.
We live in a country and society in which money and other assets are the base of the economy. In recent years people have accrued valuable assets. These people need their churches to provide the opportunity for them to give of those assets in a way that builds up the body of Christ and serves the world.
The Reverend Anne D. Kear
Rocky Mountain Conference