Global Matters

Digital donations - how contactless is transforming the act of giving

By Mayank Somaiya - Snr. Dir., Digital Partnership


For nearly 150 years, the British Red Cross has been helping vulnerable communities across the world get the support they need during moments of crisis. And to do this, they rely heavily on public goodwill and support.

An important part of the charity’s fundraising drive has been the Red Cross Week, which ran from 6-12 May 2019, where over 1500 volunteers were deployed across the UK to encourage public donations.

This year, Visa supported British Red Cross to add another dimension to their collection efforts: contactless donations. 150 volunteers were armed with contactless acceptance devices allowing the public to tap and donate enabling the charity to reach the increasing amount of people who rely on cards and smartphones to make payments. On average, a 3-hour bucket shaking collection can raise £25, but with contactless donations this is set to be more.

Incorporating contactless acceptance is just one of the many ways technology and new modes of payments are transforming how charities fundraise through digital donations. From online platforms which allow people to donate anywhere, anytime with ease to worldwide appeals coordinated through mobile payments, digitisation has created new avenues for charities to reach audiences willing to offer support.

At Visa we are working with a variety of organisations in the third sector to drive innovation in charity campaigning and fundraising. These range from increasing contactless acceptance through donation devices or by creating digital experiences that engage audiences.

For the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Visa worked with partners to set up a digital screen installation which showed a virtual forest slowly degrading. Donors could help reverse the process by tapping their Visa cards to the reader. Each tap raised funds for the Adaptation Fund - an international fund that finances projects and programs aimed at helping developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.

We already know that the impact of accepting digital payments for businesses can be significant with our research showing revenues increasing an average of 17%[1]. We believe a similar impact can be achieved by non-profit organisations who rely on fundraising to do monumental work. Last Christmas, we worked with Save the Children for their annual Christmas Jumper Day campaign, creating 30 jumpers which were embedded with contactless acceptance devices within them. Apart from creating a novel experience to bring their campaign to life, the charity was able to raise over £5,000 through digital donations.

Ultimately, our aim is to make it easier and simpler than ever to donate and by working with charities, associations and non-profit partners to innovate in digital donations, we can continue to support the important work charities like the British Red Cross do across the world.

[1] Visa Inc. Cashless Cities: Realizing the Benefits of Digital Payments (2017)

Tag: Financial Inclusion