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Novel donation stations and ways to give money

Donation station

recently wrote about how the world seems to have moved to a cashless society—something that was on the (debit) cards that the pandemic only escalated. In this article, I used the example of the National History Museum, who, using Goodbox devices, gave visitors the option to ‘tap and go’ with their debit/credit cards as they walked through the attraction, which raised an additional million pounds in donations.

As I’m steeped within the third sector and a member of many online and offline groups for fundraisers, I’ve seen a number of clever cashless donation portals, one of which Mandi Hine discovered when visiting York Minster. That the card reader was inside the lion’s mouth makes it fun to donate (particularly amongst children, exploiting their pester power), but it’s also significant that the donation amount is pre-set to £3. A seemingly affordable amount to people of all budgets, and much more than most people would have given via their spare change, pre-pandemic.

It led me to look at other innovative ways charities encourage donations, now that we appear to have moved on from simply throwing coins in a bucket.

Pull, not push

A dislike of ‘chuggers’ dates back well before the pandemic. Short for ‘charity muggers’, charities large and small use the technique to secure donations. Standing in the entry/exit of larger retailers, or amid the footfall in shopping centres, chuggers proactively approach the general public, asking them to donate money to their cause.

Chuggers are far removed from the quiet, humble tin-shakers who calmly stand and wait for people to part with their pennies. Chuggers are much more forceful, commonly selling monthly subscriptions; a good portion of people they stop sign up to regular donations just to get away.

Bullying people into donating isn’t a good tactic. Chuggers rely on people forgetting about the direct debit they’ve just signed, hoping that they’ll receive a good few months’ worth of donations before the donor realises/remembers to cancel the bank instruction. The approach can actually do damage to a charity’s brand, as it only makes donors steer clear from ever donating to them again after being caught.

In 2021, pull marketing is far more effective than push marketing in almost every industry. Charities do better over the long term if their donors engage with them and really get on board with their cause. Repeat donation is common, and donors are likely to give more if they’re fully behind the work the charity is doing.

Healthy competition for a good cause

Tap For Change is similar to Goodbox, in that each collection point/box incorporates a card reader. One of the organisation’s latest initiatives is more collaborative in nature…it invites people to sponsor a contactless collection box. The sponsor can encourage their own network to add to the box and they can get a sense of achievement when it reaches lofty amounts. A clear result for the charity, as it is effectively getting paid twice. Sponsors can feel more involved with the charity’s fundraising than if they simply tapped to donate, and the scheme invites a bit of healthy competition in aid of a good cause.

If Muhammad won’t come to the mountain…

Charity shops were forced to close during the various lockdowns, which represent a huge source of income for many national charitable organisations. Cancer Research, however, found a way to overcome this hurdle, installing new benches outside some of their London branches. These benches housed smart technology of the ‘tap and go’ variety, with a pre-set donation amount of £2. This allowed them to still raise vital funds from the same communities that would visit their shops in usual circumstances.

In a similar vein, the Blue Cross took some new friends out and about to drum up donations. Several volunteers attended outdoor events with some unbelievably cute canines who wore coats with card reader technology embedded. People could pet the dogs and tap their cards at the same time.

Another world

Lastly, this example, created and engineered by the National Autistic Society, used technology to raise awareness, though it undoubtedly increased the level of donations for the organisation, too. Using virtual reality, people shopping in various INTU shopping malls throughout the UK, could literally walk in the shoes of someone diagnosed with the condition, seeing first-hand the challenges they face on a daily basis.

The British Heart Foundation also wanted to bring their cause to the forefront of people’s minds…people who wouldn’t normally give the functioning of their heart a second thought as they carried out their day. They used technology to identify any ‘red flag’ markers in passers-by, giving them the opportunity to seek early intervention towards what could be a major health issue in a few years’ time. When you’re someone who may need the lifesaving help of an organisation, it’s difficult not to make a donation!

Whilst some smaller charities may believe that a cashless society will sound the death knell for much of their revenue, these examples and the wonders of technology should show them that that doesn’t have to be the case. Card readers are relatively inexpensive; the creativity and imagination needed to come up with quirky, attractive ways for people to donate is completely free!


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