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Online charitable giving options launched by New Orleans Seminary

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–As part of its commitment to using new technologies in kingdom work, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has become the first Southern Baptist seminary to use the Internet for charitable gifts to an institution.

Internet users can now log on to the seminary’s newly revised development site, http://nobtsfoundation.com, and click one of several “donate” buttons. The link will send the user to an “e-envelope,” powered by allcharities.com, a nonprofit organization that helps institutions with their development initiatives. The new system will allow users to make a donation from anywhere in the world, using a VISA or MasterCard, and all proceeds go directly to NOBTS.

Randy Driggers, director of NOBTS’ office of development, said the system is the result of extensive study on ways to reach alumni around the world, as well as reaching other charitable individuals who rely on the Internet for their financial planning.

“More and more people are using online technology with banking, stock purchases and the like,” Driggers said.

“Our desire is not to replace our present face-to-face contact with both current and potential donors,” he added. “This technology will simply allow us to reach more people than we’ve been able to reach.”

Driggers said the technology not only reaches a new market, but allows the seminary to keep up with more of its alumni, many of whom are serving on the mission field. The new website not only contains giving information, but also contains financial market news, gift-planning strategies and information about the seminary’s mission, its needs and its future projects.

“Our goal is to have a website that gives visitors all they need to make an informed decision about making a gift,” Driggers said, adding that any potential donor to any charity should seek the advice of his or her attorney or financial adviser before making decisions regarding estate matters.

Driggers said one of the main concerns people have with online giving is whether an individual’s credit card and personal information is secure, which he noted was also fully contemplated in NOBTS’ planning. He said the system is not only secured with the latest encryption technology, but the hosting organization, allcharities.com, will not release donor information to other companies or institutions.

“No one else has access to donors’ personal information,” Driggers said. “The company won’t sell, rent or trade information to any third parties.”

The new website also contains “e-subscriptions” to both Vision, the school’s alumni magazine, and The Gatekeeper, the school’s weekly newsletter. Even though the seminary has yet to heavily promote the e-subscriptions, it has already secured e-subscriptions from readers across the United States as well as in Ecuador and Canada.

Jerry Pounds, NOBTS vice president for development, said the new giving program is just one more way the seminary is staying abreast of technology.

“As technology changes, we want to be able to change with it,” he said. “This is an excellent chance for us to keep our mission out in front of alumni, as well as keeping them up to date with the seminary.”

In addition to the nobtsfoundation.com website, the seminary is also using its school website, nobts.edu, for academic advances on the Internet. The school is presently using the Internet for several classes, which can be taken from anywhere in the world; Internet registration for students entering the school; as well as students’ ability to view both grades and account information online.

“Making seminary education as accessible as possible is one of our primary objectives,” said NOBTS President Chuck Kelley. “To accomplish that objective, we are building a cyber-seminary online to match our physical seminary. This brings us one step further along in the development of the Internet at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.”
(BP) Photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ONLINE GIVING.

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