Wednesday 1 June 2016

Tap-To-Donate: How Technology Could Revolutionise Charity Fundraising.

Moving on from yesterday's post a little, let's consider the way that we are moving slowly but steadily towards a cashless society. Contactless tech is being used ever more frequently for the sorts of purchases that would normally have us digging in our pockets for change–coffee, a pint of milk, the morning paper, even a pint of beer. As most retailers will now accept tap-and-pay for transactions up to thirty quid, it seems the weekly trip to the cash point is gradually slipping down the list of vital tasks.

But where does this leave charities? As I mentioned last time, most of us still donate to a good cause using cash. If there is a genuine trend to go out without any spare change, then will charities, already struggling with a 5% drop in donations since 2014, find it even harder to raise funds?

There are solutions, but they'll take a little bit of radical thinking. What if, for example, we could use our mobiles to give to charity? Apple Pay and Android Pay are already rolling out to major retailers and suppliers like the London Underground. In conjunction with a little smart coding and a free app, there are definite opportunities out there.

Take Busk, which is a mobile app designed for street entertainers–another group that's always been dependent on the largesse of strangers with their spare change. Busk allows people to find, connect and most importantly reward their favourite musicians directly from a friendly, intuitive interface. Part of The Busking Project, the notion is to network, allowing street entertainers to share tips, tricks and help each other out in times of trouble.

The problem with Busk, however laudable the aim, is that it doesn't allow for spontaneity. You can't easily squirt funds directly to any performer you happen to come across. What's needed is something a little simpler to apply on the street.

One elegant solution is being trialled by our pals at the Big Issue. Their sellers stand or fall by the amount of money they make on the streets every day. With cash on the way out, they need a new way to gather funds.

The Big Issue are trailing contactless payments to allow their sellers to take the cover price of the latest issue out of your account, and directly into theirs with a simple tap. Quick, easy, secure–and it means there's no danger of a mugging wiping out a day's profits.

This kind of innovation could be a great way for street fundraisers to operate, but why not take things further? An idea could be to take donations with a simple tap on a smart jacket, using the sort of tech that Levi's and Google are working on. You could even define different areas on the garment to take different amounts. Tap on the chest for a pound, the arm for a fiver. Make things a little bit cheeky, maybe, with a tenner for a tap on the bum?

There's a long way to go with this kind of innovation, but it's clear that charities need to think outside the (collection) box if they want to halt the slide in donations that we've seen recently. Making it easy and fun to give to a good cause is definitely an avenue worth exploring. Apps and RFID tech could make a real difference to the way we give to our favourite charities in the future.


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