Kettles offer donors ‘bump and pay’ option

Nov 20, 2019 | by Brad Rowland

Kettles offer donors ‘bump and pay' option

By: David Ibata

For the first time ever this holiday season, The Salvation Army nationally will let donors bump and pay.

Thousands of "Kettle Pay" stickers have gone out in recent weeks to every corps and command in the Southern Territory, to be affixed to every Red Kettle Campaign tripod sign.

"This is a National Advisory Board effort through National Headquarters to provide opportunities for folks who don't carry cash or credit cards to still help with the kettle," said Tom Knox, territorial assistant community relations and development secretary.

The Kettle Pay sticker measures five inches square and has four graphic elements: an Apple Pay logo for Apple iPhone owners, a Google Pay icon for Android phone users, a QR ("quick response") symbol and an NFC ("near field communications") tag, which looks like a WiFi symbol.

Owners of late-model smart phones can simply "bump" their phones against the NFC tag. That activates a link to a custom Salvation Army donor web site equipped with Apple Pay or Google Pay. (Owners of older phones can point their phone cameras at the QR symbol to also pull up the site.)

People are given options to donate in $5, $10, $25 increments, or they can specify another amount.

Apple Pay and Google Pay will send The Salvation Army the donor's name, email address, and full mailing address with zip code; payments made by credit card will send the same information. This way, the Army will know which division to credit the donation to.

"There have been attempts over the last few years to try to find ways to help donors contribute when they're not carrying cash," Knox said, citing past experiments with iPad kiosks and "Dip Jar" credit-card readers. The challenge has only gotten harder with the growing number of people who don't carry credit cards, either; they prefer using the pay apps of their smart phones.

The National Advisory Board ran Kettle Pay pilot programs in select cities last year. NHQ rolled out the program nationwide this autumn.

Kettle Pay comes in two parts: The self-adhesive sticker described above, and a small disc 2¼ inches in diameter that contains the NFC circuitry. You peel off the sticker backing, put the disc on the sticky side beneath the NFC logo, and place the sticker on the "Doing the Most Good" sign of the kettle tripod.

Click here to view a training video. Kettle Pay materials and information also are available on Ministry Toolkit.

"Trade South sent out the first batch of 13,564 stickers based on our estimates," Knox said. "Some commands asked for a few more, so National is sending out another 400."

Some instructional materials show the sticker attached to the kettle, but Knox advises against that.

"The kettles get picked up every day, they get thrown into a van and jostled around, and the Kettle Pay device can get damaged," he said. "We're recommending putting the stickers on the sign," which stays with the tripod.

While it's too early to say how well the devices are working, the initial response from the corps has been positive. "People like the idea, they're excited about it," Knox said.

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