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Digital Donations at Christmas Time

How often have you had a collection box rattled at you, and you’ve wanted to drop some coins in but have been let down by your empty purse? It’s safe to say that people tend to have more plastic in their wallet than they do metal or paper.

We talk all the time about how churches, charities and other not-for-profit organisations that rely on donations are trying to roll out contactless payment methods to make sure they don’t lose out on vital funds. And there’s possibly no time more important to have this technology in place than at Christmas time.

It’s a time when people are spending money, and possible a time when people do feel the pinch a bit more, but the festive period is also when people’s thoughts turn to those less fortunate than themselves – And what easier way than to feel you are helping those in need at Christmas time, than a simple digital donation.  

Back in 2017, Barclays did some research which concluded that by not taking digital donations and relying solely on cash, meant that they were missing out on more than £80 million per year.

Just think of how much good that amount of money could do – It’s so imperative that these donations are not lost simply due to lack of technology. The urge to give is there, we just need to tap into how to make it more straightforward for donors in todays cashless society.

If you’ve got a few coins on you, then it couldn’t be much easier than just dropping them into a bucket. But if you haven’t got cash, it needs to be just as easy. Having the option to tap a debit card on an e-reader or scan a smart sticker on your phone offers an efficient and straight-forward alternative to cash donations. By making it easier for people to donate, the hope is that charities will see an increase in donations. 

Interestingly, it’s not just having the option to go digital that helps increase donations; it also seems to increase the average amount that people donate. During the trial that Barclays carried out for NSPCC, they found that the average card donation was more than 3 times the average of a cash donations at £3.07.

This again highlights the increasing importance of charities and not-for-profits going digital for donations.

Last December saw the introduction of digital payments for Big Issue sellers, which we’ve spoken about before. Homeless people in London, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham were given an 8 week trial with an iZettle contactless payment reader. The sellers themselves recognise that people are carrying less cash nowadays, and those using the card reader started to see their sales go up. A very welcome Christmas gift we are sure.

The Church of England have also introduced technology to enable congregations to donate digitally, with the option to give up to £30 in one go. Imagine an electronic card reader being passed around during the last hymn, as well as a collection plate or bag? Let’s not forget donation apps as well, which are also popular with some Churches. If they are going to keep a congregation, then they need to move with the times and respond to the younger generation, who seem to carry significantly less cash.

Last year saw such a rise in card transactions that it overtook cash for the first time. 28% of Brits would prefer to make a donation through their phone than by cash.

And if even the thought of reaching in your purse for your card is too much trouble, how about being able to make a donation whilst sitting on your sofa without moving a muscle? The British Heart Foundation even became the first charity in the UK to offer voice activated donations. All you have to do is ask Alexa!

Perhaps the decline in the use of cash was initially cause for concern; that those cash donations to the homeless or coins in a collection box would disappear. But the reduction in carrying cash doesn’t mean a reduction in the urge to give charitably. People just need an alternative option. The opposite may actually end up being true – Perhaps offering digital donations will increase fundraising. They may not have a loose coin to pop in the box, but tapping a card on a digital reader would make it very easy to donate a fiver.

It’s important to note that the aim is not to replace conventional cash donations with digital ones. There is still a place for cash donations and likely always will be as some people will always deal in cash. However, the important thing is to give someone the option – Offering a digital alternative doesn’t stop someone giving cash, but does give a donor without cash the opportunity to donate as well. The perfect fundraising partnership – Be it a card reader, a smart sticker, or an app.

Gone are the days of muttering ‘sorry, no change’. So next time you’re approached by someone fundraising, especially this Christmas time, ask if they have the option to take a digital payment.

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