Charities are becoming increasingly successful in using contactless technology to boost donation
The use of contactless transactions is soaring across the UK, as charities increasingly ditch paper money.
This simple act of tapping a card on a machine is fast becoming the go-to method of cashless payment, particularly for those looking to donate to charities.
While contactless devices were already becoming commonplace in charity shops and public fundraising, as a vital replacement for the traditional charity tin, the trend has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to reduce the spread of infection through handling cash.
As society recovers, it is a trend that looks set to rise even further.
Here we look at some of the latest evidence of the growth in contactless donating, and some of the innovative ways charities are benefitting.
Latest figures from Goodbox, which supplies contactless technology to the non-profit sector, found that the number of individual contactless donations increased from 32,000 in May 2019 to 78,000 in May 2021.
Not only does this represent a doubling of contactless donations over the last two years, but May 2021 was a record month for Goodbox. The previous monthly record was 70,000 in December 2020, as charities benefitted from a pre-Christmas boost in giving, as well as a break in COVID-19 lockdowns.
“It is amazing to see the generosity of the UK public, especially during such a difficult economic period, and we are delighted to see so many of charity partners benefitting from this,” said Goodbox co-founder and managing director Francesca Hodgson.
“Our team has worked tirelessly to ensure that charities have access to our innovative tools to help them access new donors and raise funds without having to rely on just cash donations and these new milestones show just how impactful and important our solutions are.”
One successful way charities are encouraging supporters to donate through contactless is to install devices in shop windows, where shoppers can give money as they walk by. These can be in a charity’s own shops as well as through linking up with local businesses.
Among charities benefitting is Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity. Goodbox’s Tap to Donate devices are installed at shops across the city, inviting shoppers to “tap and give £3” to good causes it is supporting.
The Big Issue Group has been reporting a major increase in sales for its street magazine sellers following a roll out of contactless payment systems.
Sellers are increasingly accepting contactless payments through a card reader supplied by Zettle and using PayPal.
Evaluation has found that sellers offering contactless options are selling up to 30% more magazines that those only accepting cash.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend. As of May 2021, there were 592 Big Issue sellers offering contactless options, compared to 193 before the health crisis.
“For us at The Big Issue, financial and digital inclusion is so important as it enables vendors to access the same services and products as everyone else, regardless of their personal circumstances,” said Beth Thomas, Head of Partnerships and Programmes at The Big Issue.
“Our partnership with Zettle and PayPal has enabled us to work with our vendors to help them to manage their finances confidently, using technology to enhance this experience and ensure they get the best access to services and the best value of products.”
The Big Issue has worked with Zettle since 2018, and in 2020, PayPal launched a QR code feature, which is now integrated into the Zettle point-of-sale app. This means that as well as tapping a card to buy a magazine, customers can scan the PayPal QR Code on a vendor’s phone and pay for the magazine out of their PayPal account within seconds.
Another emerging use of contactless donation technology is at fundraising events and award ceremonies. Charities are increasingly using volunteers to circulate with guests using contactless devices to take donations.
Among contactless technology firms to work with charities is GiveStar, previously known as TapSimple.
In 2020, GiveStar supplied 18 volunteers with contactless devices at a fundraising event at the National Gallery to support the charity Mary’s Meals. This helped the charity raise more than £160,000 at the event.
Meanwhile, in 2019, 50 volunteers with contactless devices were deployed at Children with Cancer UK’s annual ball at Grosvenor House, London. The charity raised £130,000 at the event, which was attended by 800 guests.
Contactless donation technology will be increasingly used at public fundraising events as UK society recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, whether those events are hybrid (containing a virtual element) or purely face-to-face occasions.
GiveStar urges charities to make contactless collections commonplace at a raft of events, from auctions and award ceremonies to golf days, picnics and bake sales.