Church of Norway plans to pass an electronic collection basket

OSLO Thu May 22, 2014 8:47am EDT

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OSLO May 22 (Reuters) - The Church of Norway will start collecting donations through text messages, hoping to prop up its finances as gifts and state support dwindle.

"Fewer and fewer people are walking around with cash these days, and this is very noticeable when the collection basket is passed around in church," said Robert Wright, the head of administration for 45 Oslo churches.

Surveys show that more than half of Norwegians carry no or little cash and most Norwegian prefer to pay by card, a problem for the church, which has collected cash for centuries.

Norway's government cut its formal ties with the Church of Norway in 2012, abolishing Evangelical-Lutheranism as the state religion. With state help expected to decline, church officials are rethinking their finances.

"We know that we are moving quickly towards a time when we won't get the money we need from the government and there's no doubt that offerings from church members are becoming much more important," Wright said.

The church commissioned Oslo-listed Link Mobility to set up a payment system by this summer and plans to offer churchgoers in Oslo the chance to donate via text message.

"This is a system that people recognise from TV-shows like Norwegian Idol, and now they can also use it for giving offerings," Wright said.

The system, which will be rolled out around Norway's 1,300 churches later, will also provide receipts, making donors eligible for tax deductions. (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Editing by Larry King)

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