Contactless giving – tapping into the future

Ben HThe way that people pay for goods and services is constantly changing. The 1990s saw the growth of direct debit and online payments, and now we are seeing the boom of contactless payments. As more and more people begin to use contactless technology, is the charity sector ready to keep up with this new form of payment?

A 2015 report by Halifax revealed that cash was still the most popular method for giving, with some 66% of donors giving via this method, in comparison to 25% via Direct Debit. The report claimed ‘it seems that few people have embraced the digital age when it comes to donating to good causes’. Despite this, a recent study undertaken by CAF has suggested that donors are beginning to adopt a more digital approach to giving. CAF, in conjunction with Save the Children, undertook a survey and found that ‘as many as 30 per cent of people were likely to donate using contactless payment if given the option’.

Despite its apparent popularity in London, the report did highlight a potential ‘north-south’ divide amongst givers. Manchester based concertgoers, surveyed for this report, were much more likely to donate with cash than contactless payment. This was due in part to the people being ‘unfamiliar with the contactless technology’. This shows a potential disparity in giving methods between London and the rest of the country. So are we now seeing a North/South divide in giving habits?

The London obsession with contactless donating was further typified when the article outlined that one in five purchasing a coffee at nationwide-chain Costa using contactless payment went on to donate. This was backed up with a test at Westfield Shopping Centre in London in which contactless charity collectors went up against traditional ‘chuggers’. The results showed 30% of shoppers opted to donate via contactless payment.


This is positive news for the charity sector, building on innovative and technologically advanced ideas such as the creative contactless giving idea rolled out by Cancer Research UK earlier this year. The charity embedded contactless payment technology into the windows of four of it stores in the south of England. This was a clever campaign, capturing ‘impulsive givers’, and offering unique benefits to givers (once a donation was given, a video played on an interactive screen showing the impact that the donation would make).

As we use cash less frequently, it is crucial that charities take stock of this and adapt accordingly, particularly in London, with a more digitally advanced and time-poor population. Charities need to be smart in acknowledging donor giving habits dependent upon regions. However, as we move to an ever more digital society, it is vital that donors and charities embrace technological advances, which can make giving much quicker and easier.

What do you think? Is contactless payment the new way forward for charities? Is London unique in this form of payment and giving? We’d love to hear from you.

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