How The Children’s Society tested contactless

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In just a few short years, contactless payment has become the norm for buying groceries and clothes, and new technologies have now moved it to being a viable method of collecting donations as well. The Children’s Society decided to approach its annual Christingle fundraiser in a different way recently, piloting contactless donation points at some of their key fundraisers. We asked Andy and Nicola from the Product Development team to tell us how it went.

Hello! Please introduce yourself.

Andy Connolly & Nicola Gampell from the Product Development team at The Children’s Society.

What does your day-to-day role entail? 

Product Development’s role is to look at existing products within our portfolio to see if we can improve them in terms of engagement, bringing in new audiences and income. As with our work on contactless, this may involve utilising new technologies or methodologies.

How did you get involved with using contactless?

Contactless was something that had been on our radar for a while, as we can see it used in the commercial sector more and more. Christingle and House Boxes in particular are two large income streams for us, but both involve cash donations. As we move to a cashless society we need to future proof this.

The Children's Society - Christingle

What was the process of rolling it out for Christingle?

We  spoke to supporters to get their input into how contactless would work in their events in ideation sessions to create propositions that we thought would work well for our audience. Charities in general are still finding out how best to use this technology and we are no different. We are currently working through the tests we’ve done and excited about the next stage of the roll out.

Did it work? What were the successes and challenges?

Overall, it was a mixed success with some tests working better than others, highlighting how important the context is. How they are positioned, whether they are manned by a volunteer, how the ask is communicated and how they can be a response to ‘sorry I don’t have cash’ all have a huge impact on uptake. Making our supporters feel safe in using the contactless technology for non-transactional reasons was a challenge. Whilst it can work, it can’t be looked at in isolation. Text giving, mobile payment and online giving are all cashless giving mechanisms that give contactless a run for its money.

What advice would you give any charities considering how they can use contactless? What considerations do they need to take into account?

The technology in of itself is not a way to get donations but rather a mechanism. The context around the device is most important. Striking visuals and “fun” engagement pieces work well. Our large scale contactless Christingle Orange was a big hit (especially as it dispensed sweets when donations were made!)

What’s next for contactless?

We are looking at refining the technology and how we use it. Watch this space! We will not be using it in its basic format – to make the most of it, you have to take advantage of the perks technology brings. Contactless offers the opportunity to bring what works in digital fundraising into the real world. We can’t wait to bring interactive content, responsive targets and social sharing into the real world.

Have you been using contactless with your charity? Leave us a comment to let us know how you’ve found it.

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