Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box: Donation Payments

I don't know about you but I don't keep a lot change -- or even cash -- in my pocket any more. I use my discount debit or cash rewards credit cards nearly exclusively. Recently, I have been wondering how that might affect charities that depend upon "point of sale" or impulse contributions.  How has that adversely affected an organization such as the Salvation Army and their extremely lucrative Red Kettle program. Even though Red Kettle contributions exceeded $147 million in 2011, how much revenue was lost because people don't have as much loose change?

Well, the Salvation Army isn't taking any chances and last year started using a device that can be plugged into a smart phone, an iPad, or an Android device and accept credit card donations on site. A volunteer can take a contribution with his left hand as he continues to the ring the kettle bell with his right. It is called Square and it was developed by Jack Dorsey, the fellow that created Twitter. Unlike the clumsy credit card machines that could barely be jerry-rigged on a remote site, Square is really simple. Plug the Square device into your smartphone's headphone jack.

You can then swipe your donor's card, punch in the payment or donation amount, and have the donor sign the touch screen. Done!

Pretty cool, huh?

There is another device that might just be a boon to nonprofits unwilling to leave even the smallest contribution on the table. It is called DipJar. DipJar was developed in 2008 by another enterprising entrepreneur, writer, and (aspiring) academic named Ryder Kessler. As the story goes, Kessler was at his favorite coffee house and remarked to one of the baristas that although the place was "crazy packed" that night, the tips must make up for the mayhem. He was shocked to learn that this wasn't the case and that gratuities had really plummeted in recent years. Apparently, few patrons had much pocket change since they were making their beverage purchases on plastic. Well, as any brilliant entrepreneur would do, Ryder decided that this problem needed a solution. Hence, DipJar was created.

DipJar is particularly spiffy because it blends high-tech with high-tactile. Its design is simple and familiar. Slide your card into the opening just like dropping a tip into a cup. DipJar is set up to accept $1 dollar donations for each dip or swipe but it could be modified to charge different amounts.

How could you use tools such as these to advance your fundraising? Let me know about great, outside the box ideas.

*Thinking Outside the Box is an occasional post about innovative possibilities in fundraising.

1 comment:

  1. Those interested in securing your iPad and Square at the counter check out will want to look into the new Sentry Squared. Offering "flip" functionality for capturing customer signatures, this sleek, good looking stand presents the Square Register solution in a more professional way. Check it out at - from nClosures.