TORONTO — Canada’s Salvation Army is testing out a new and faster way to allow cashless donations to its kettle stations via debit and credit card, making the process as quick and easy as dropping a toonie in the bubble.
A pilot project starting Dec. 1 will allow donations at some kettle stations in the Greater Toronto Area to be made through a new tap-and-go machine that eliminates having to swipe a card or enter a cash amount or PIN.
The machine will be mounted on the side of kettle stands and have three discs to tap — one for a $5 donation, another for $10 and another for $20.
Those wanting to donate more can tap a disc up to 10 times.
The charitable organization has been offering debit and credit tap donation options during its annual Christmas Kettle Campaign for a couple of years across Canada now, but only through machines that require operator intervention.
Spokesman Maj. Rob Kerr says the new tap-and-go option will streamline the process and be as simple as walking up to the kettle, tapping, waiting for a beep confirming the transaction and leaving.
“We know of the folks who drop money in the kettle, one of the things that’s made it so appealing is that they can drop their cash in the bubble and just keep going,” Kerr said in a phone interview.
“It doesn’t slow them down from their busy day, and we just want to find technology that allows it to work that way, too.”
The new 30-by-30-centimetre tap-and-go machine is a red rectangle card mounted on the side of kettle stands.
It interfaces with Moneris Solutions Corp., a payments card processor.
Unlike the point-of-sale machines currently in use at kettle stations across Canada, the new tap-and-go option doesn’t require training or any action by those operating the stations.
The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign is already under way across Canada.
Kerr said the new pilot project will only be in certain locations in the GTA this year, but if successful, will expand to more locations next year.
Other cities in Canada can still donate at kettle stations via debit and credit on the regular point-of-sale machines this year.
And, of course, donors can still drop coins and bills into the kettle bubbles — a method Kerr said isn’t waning, despite our so-called cashless society.
“There’s some kind of a rewarding experience in dropping that cash in the bubble and seeing that happen,” Kerr said.
“So I’m not thinking we’re going to see a huge decline. We’re really hoping more and more that this is just going to enhance and augment those who are already giving cash.”
Kerr said Canada’s Salvation Army raised almost $23 million last year through the kettle campaign across the country.
He estimated that was up slightly over the year before. The Salvation Army has seen an increase in donations through the kettle campaign for the last couple of years now, he added.
This year’s donation goal for Canada is $23 million. Donations can also be made online.
“It’s amazing what people are giving to the Salvation Army still in cashless society,” Kerr said.
“They seem to have the loonies, toonies, fives and tens to drop in the bubble when they go by. And it continues to be a strong fundraiser for us.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2019.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press