Most of those with a faith background are familiar with the term “tithe” when it comes to giving back to their faith community.

Tithing is giving 10 percent of one’s income to the Lord through the ministries of Christ’s church.

Leviticus 27:30 reads, “All tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the Lord’s; they are holy to the Lord.”

A tithe is 10 percent of the annual produce or earnings, generally used to support a church or religious organization.

While churches sustain themselves and their activities thanks to charitable gifts and bequests from generous donors in the form of tithes, endowment funds or capital drives, it isn’t always enough.

Some members are unable to tithe, and with a wide variation of income among members, relying on a set amount of money to maintain operations can be daunting.

“Shop with Scrip” is a program used by churches, schools and other charitable organizations to bring in additional funds.

St. Mary Catholic Church began implementing “Shop with Scrip” in the mid-1990s after a former St. Mary School parent learned of the program from another parish, according to scrip coordinator Michael Tyson.

“She presented the idea as a way of raising funds for the parish school, and the program started soon after that,” he said. “When All Saints School started in 2011, taking over the former St. Mary School, our scrip program continued but was no longer selling it directly through the school as we had been doing.”

How it works

Scrip requires no extra time or money to be spent. Participating retailers like Meijer, Pick n’ Save, Target, Wendy’s and Kohl’s sell gift certificates to churches or schools at a discounted price.

Families do their weekly shopping with scrip gift cards and in turn raise money for their charitable organization.

Once a member orders a gift card, a rebate will go directly to the organization, and families will use that gift card in place of a credit card or cash, Tyson said.

“You aren’t spending money on things other than what you were going to purchase anyway,” he said. “Online ordering and payment are available. Some cards can be reloaded, or you may have the option to receive scrip instantly and redeem it right on your phone.”

Tyson said that while it’s been a good fundraiser for St. Mary’s, it was seen at first by parishioners as a school fundraiser, and it was difficult to overcome the perception that this was only for school families.

“It is a challenge to get new people purchasing scrip. We have regular purchasers of scrip, and many others that purchase it, but not necessarily on a regular basis,” he said. “Scrip is often part of the weekly announcements at church, which serves as a reminder that scrip supports the parish.”

One of the primary reasons the program has not become more popular seems to surround credit card rebates and airline miles offered to cardholders, even though those businesses offer a much lower percentage back than scrip funds.

Tyson said he hopes the program continues to grow as it has helped further their parish’s mission of bringing Jesus Christ to the world.

“On average, we earn between 4 and 5 percent on overall sales, as the rebate cards we sell range from 1.25 percent to 15 percent,” he said.

The program is not difficult and basically consists of setting up a “Scrip Shop” or table where a volunteer sells gift cards at appointed times, such as before and after Sunday services.

“It just takes a commitment of time. Scrip is sold year-round with sales in the parish office on Friday morning and in the church before and after each of the regular weekend Masses, so the cards need to be ordered each week and then received,” he said. “There is a lot of data entry.”

Six volunteers run the St. Mary scrip program, including a couple of veterans from the initial school program who have helped for more than 20 years.

“Scrip does not replace tithing; it is an additional opportunity for parishioners to support our mission with everyday purchases,” said Tyson.

“It does require thinking ahead about what you are going to need that week. You also have to keep track of whatever cards you purchase as a few of them have inactivity fees, though most do not.”