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Save the Children Donation Station

By Nick Jones, Former Head of Digital Comms and CSR • Visa Europe

August 22, 2016

Throwing coins into a charity bucket takes just a second once the coins are dug out of pockets. Givers instinctively react to a collection’s appeal. Could this moment be harnessed to allow contactless giving? Could it be improved into a more meaningful engagement – especially when cash giving is in decline? Those are the challenges that the pioneering Save the Children donation station rises to.

While contactless donation has been tested in trials, could a production-ready device be possible?

The station comprises a touchscreen playing an interactive video and a payments device to take the contactless donation. It debuted at a payments industry event in France in June. “It had a great reception. The concept of contactless giving is really enticing to users”, explains Remco Willemse, managing director of Payter – one of Visa’s partners who helped turn the concept into a working commercially available product. “Although it seems very obvious and the logical next step, few people have thought of it. When demonstrating it to them you see the change in their minds. They start to see the possibilities it is creating.”

So how was the donation station created? Who saw the possibilities? What particular problems needed to be solved?

Since 2014, Visa has supported Save the Children’s work transforming the lives of vulnerable children around the world. The support goes well beyond employee fundraising. Visa employees share their expertise with the charity as it works on its own fundraising innovation strategy and capability. One particular project was to help Save the Children explore the potential of contactless capability in the fundraising mix. Rachel Carrington, from Save the Children explains: “through skilled volunteering and sharing of innovation expertise Visa is enabling Save the Children to become more effective and efficient as we try and raise more money than ever before.”

To create the donation station, Visa brought on board a number of key partners. Payter specialises in mobile and contactless solutions for the vending and parking sectors. Creditcall, a payments gateway, also got involved, along with acquirer Elavon.

So what challenges needed to be tackled?

Payter’s Willemse notes two critical ones. “How do you create a smooth seamless experience that is secure and convenient without losing the message of Save the Children?” The second challenge: how to draw attention and hook a potential donor. “How do we distinguish the donation station from a regular ticketing or narrow casting kiosk?”

Willemse explains: “We are still at the forefront of contactless giving, as with many innovations it requires a change in behaviour and thinking. People instantly recognise branded collection tins next to tills. It will take some time before everyone would recognise this next step in donating. We are providing a new mechanic of giving – enabling everyone to be able to donate. However contactless is not the reason why people donate, engaging people for the cause is still the main objective; this is a new way of communicating.”

To that end, the donation station’s appeal centres on the three part video on its public screen. The initial lure screen catches the attention of the passer-by. It has a call to action that activates the second part of the video. That presents three different donation amounts. When one is chosen it explains the benefit children get from the donation amount. The final part prompts the user to pay using the contactless terminal just below the screen. After they have paid they get to see an engaging thank you message directly from the children.

Visa’s Nick Mackie, who leads on contactless payments, is very happy with the results. “We’re thrilled to be working with forward-looking partners to accelerate the digitisation of charitable giving. By providing a truly interactive experience, the donation station combines the speed and convenience of contactless with a ground-breaking engagement opportunity between charities and their supporters.”

After its successful debut the donation stations will be deployed for 12 months in the UK to obtain learning on how to maximise this channel for charities.

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