’Sorry, I’ve got nothing on me.’
People are busy, and giving to charity may not be at the forefront of their mind. So charities need to make it as easy as possible to give. Contactless payment hotspots can help charities increase donations
The ease and convenience of contactless payment cards mean fewer people walk around with coins in their pockets or purses – the kind of loose change that they may previously have dropped into a fundraiser’s collection tin as they walked past. This may explain the rise in digital fundraising "hotspots": places where charities use tech for good, making it fun or rewarding – and, most importantly, quick and easy – for supporters to make a donation without being delayed while they consider how much to give and hunt for the appropriate coins or notes.
UK Coffee Week provided a perfect example of this, when thousands of coffee shops around the country took part in a fundraising drive for The Allegra Foundation to provide drinking water to coffee-growing communities. As part of the campaign, the shops became hotspots, setting their contactless card readers to take a fixed donation of £3 without any retailer interaction needed.
That meant customers with their phones out ready to pay for their coffee could make a quick £3 contactless payment donation while their coffee was prepared. "Fewer people carry notes and change with them which makes traditional donation boxes less effective," explained Jeffrey Young, the founder of UK Coffee Week.
Animal charity Blue Cross did something similar this Christmas at its rescue centres, as well as at fundraising events and sites run by commercial partners, including Pets at Home. It installed contactless payment devices with screens at these locations, with the twist that anyone making a £3 donation by tapping their card at one of these hotspots received a "reward" in the form of a quick thank you video featuring a dog or a cat. "The result is a less transactional feeling," explained a spokesperson for Bond and Coyne, the campaign agency that developed the initiative.
The convenience of contactless payments means that digital leaders can still raise considerable funds with strategically placed contactless payments devices, even if they don’t offer any form of "reward". For example, Tŷ Hafan, the only children’s hospice in South Wales, raised hundreds of pounds simply by fixing a "tap to pay" device to the front of its Cardiff store which took £3 donations from passers-by for almost three weeks last year.
And cricket charity Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust raised £16,000 in one evening using a contactless payment terminal as a key way for supporters to donate at a fundraising dinner at Lords Cricket Ground with guest speaker Sir John Major last year. The event also included a text number and weblink to offer supporters further ways to donate.
We live in an attention economy. People value charity, but it is another competing interest, and a supporter with a desire to give can quickly be distracted. So hotspots need to capture the eye - and the imagination.
Some charity digital fundraising initiatives aim to attract passers-by to their hotspots with something more eye-catching or unusual than just a simple contactless device, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used bright red "Giving Machines" as part of a global Light the World initiative in 10 cities around the world.
These charity vending machines attract supporters who can then use a contactless card to pay for items such as shoes, textbooks, mosquito nets and chickens which are then purchased and donated to those in need by charities including Glass Door Homeless Charity, Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank, and International Medical Corps. In 2018 the vending machine initiative last year raised £1.8m in 38 days, across five cities.
BBC Children in Need made a different kind of bid for people’s attention by taking its mascot, Pudsey Bear, to create hotspots at 15 of London’s busiest underground stations. Using contactless payment technology, commuters could make an instant £5 donation to the campaign by "high fiving" Pudsey with their contactless card as they went to or from work.
Perhaps the most unusual digital fundraising hotspot seen so far took the form of a Christmas jumper – or thirty of them to be precise. Save the Children teamed up with Visa at Christmas 2018 to create contactless donation jumpers for its annual fundraiser, and thirty volunteers wearing the smart jumpers took donations from members of the public at 16 tube stations on Christmas Jumper Day on 14th December.