While you’re used to hearing “Have any spare change?” from the Salvation Army bell ringers, this holiday season will bring a new tagline, “Have a smartphone?”
The Massachusetts Salvation Army kicked off its annual Red Kettle campaign on Wednesday, giving smartphone users without cash an easier way to donate this year: QR codes. The QR codes can be seen on signage next to the traditional cash kettles. Donators simply scan the code with a smartphone, which will bring them to a website for credit card donations.
“The code is a great alternative for those who pass by our kettles but do not have any change in their pockets to give,” Major Ivan K. Rock, general secretary of the Massachusetts Salvation Army said in a statement. “We are hopeful that by making it more convenient for people to give we will be able to provide for more of our neighbors in need than ever before.”
While it’s great to see that the Salvation Army has entered the 21st century by implementing smartphone technology into their holiday campaigns, stopping to scan a QR code and then manually entering your credit card information into a website seems much more time consuming than tossing a few quarters into the bucket.
The Salvation Army added traditional credit card processing terminals to its campaigns in 2009, but it only raised $60,000 from that program compared to $148 million in cash donations. “The credit card terminals really haven’t been a blockbuster, I’ll be candid,” Major George Hood, the Salvation Army’s spokesman told the New York Times. “The winter elements have been a negative, people have to go through a process of entering data.”
In Dallas, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, the Salvation Army is testing Square this year, a mobile payment company which allows bell ringers to accept credit card donations via smartphones. Square Founder Jack Dorsey told the Times, “Instead of training people on an entirely new behavior, an entirely new way to pay, we just use what they know. It doesn’t require them to learn anything new, and it doesn’t require the merchant or organization to learn anything new.”
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Salvation Army noted that they are studying the use of Square here, which will be inevitably easier than scanning a QR code. Either way, it’s good to know the cashless can still help make a difference this holiday season.