Contactless donations have huge potential says study

23 June 2015

Contactless payment technology has huge potential to transform fundraising in an age where the use of cash is likely to decline, according to the Charities Aid Foundation and Save the Children. They have just completed a groundbreaking 100-day proof of concept, with Visa Europe Collab, to explore consumer readiness for this new way of giving.

An innovation team from Visa Europe Collab worked with CAF and Save the Children to design and create mobile contactless collection tins and countertop donation terminals to test whether the technology has the potential to grow giving in the UK.

Fundraisers tested prototype contactless donation terminals in a wide range of locations including a Costa coffee shop counter, street fundraising drive, Westfield London shopping centre, tube station and concert venue.

They found at some locations a significant proportion of donors were willing to tap the terminal to give a fixed amount, particularly at the Costa coffee shop and the underground station. But the collection method was far less effective than cash collections in the concert venue, where people were unfamiliar with the technology and had little time.

The research found:

  • When fundraising  with a choice of contactless and cash collection tins at Westfield London shopping centre, 30% of people gave via contactless card.   This fundraising test , which featured on The One Show, pitted teams with traditional cash tins against those with contactless collectors.  The cash team won, with 70% of the donations.
  • In a London Costa coffee shop counter collection, 1 in 5 people who paid for their coffee with a contactless card went on to make a donation on the contactless terminal. If the Barista asked them if they wanted to, this increased to 50%. However even paying for a coffee in central London, the sweet spot of contactless transactions,  60% of people paid by cash, 20% by chip and pin card and 20% by contactless card.
  • In a collection at a music concert in Manchester where people were offered both contactless and cash collection tins, less than 1% of the money raised was by contactless card.
  • In a Tube station collection at Canary Wharf, London, donors were offered the chance to donate £1 or £5.  40% gave £5 and 60% £1.

Chris Allwood, Senior Product Development Manager from CAF said:

"We are always looking to the future and we are convinced there is a massive future for donations using contactless technology as people switch from using cash to using cards.

“Contactless cards are still being rolled out but they are clearly seen as they way people will make small payments in the future. It’s vital we are at the forefront of this technology so that charities do not lose out.

“We have been working on this exiting concept for many months, and are extremely grateful for the generous support of the team at Visa Europe Collab that has allowed us to run a live proof of concept of this exciting technology."

Gemma Sherrington, Director of Innovation at Save the Children, said: “It’s vital that we explore  new ways to engage prospective and existing donors to support our much-needed work. As more people become cashless consumers, charities need to ensure they are able to offer the option to donate via contactless technology – so we were thrilled that Save the Children spearheaded this innovative project.”

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