Salvation Army goes digital in Christmas solicitation

Vittorio Hernandez – AHN News

New York, NY, United States (AHN) – The Salvation Army is catching up with the times as it started its yearly Christmas collection campaign. Since many people no longer carry cash, the charity group is using for the first time a smartphone technology to collect financial donations from people.

While the bell and red kettle, which are the known symbols of the charity, would still be around, the Salvation Army crew would also carry a mobile payment device which would accept payments using credit cards.

The Salvation Army explained that it is their way of catching up with technology which their donors have embraced. The group said it is willing to try any new technology if that will increase donations.

Due to the hard times, there is a dramatic rise in the need for food, shelter, warm clothing and heat, which the Salvation Army must provide through the $2 billion donation it receives yearly.

The technology has been around for quite sometime and companies have used it since 2007. Charities and nongovernmental organizations are now beginning to catch up.

Among its new users are Girl Scouts who carried the device when they sold 400 boxes of cookies at Facebook’s office in Silicon Valley where the father of one of the scouts works.

Square, the mobile payment system used by the Salvation Army, requires the donor to just swipe a card and sign. Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive of Square, said there is no need to train people on how to use the device since they are familiar with similar gadgets in other commercial establishments.

The Salvation Army will use the Square at 10 locations in Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. The charity group actually used standard credit card processing terminals three years ago, but it collected only $60,000 in donations which paled in comparison to the over $148 million the Salvation Army collected in coins and bills thrown in its red kettles the following year.

The army explains the unpopularity of the credit card terminals to being a cumbersome procedure because donors still needed to enter data.

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