Salvation Army Unveils Contactless Red Kettles

Salvation Army

Depending on where you live, “Sorry, I’m not carrying any cash” will no longer be a viable excuse when you encounter a Salvation Army bell-ringer.

With the help of Visa and touchless payments company tiptap, the Salvation Army is rolling out a contactless donation program at 2,000 kettle locations around the country.

“When shoppers hear those familiar bells, they’ll be able to give back by simply tapping their contactless card, phone or watch on the tiptap devices — the same way they do in stores — no need to carry cash, scan a QR code, or touch anything,” the organization said in a news release Tuesday (Nov. 16).

Launching in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Sacramento and other cities, the program is taking advantage of a rise in contactless payments, which has doubled since last year, with 400 million contactless cards in circulation.

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The Salvation Army says its Red Kettle campaign is a crucial source of holiday giving, generating $120 million in 2020. This year, the organization says it will need about $175 million to help Americans dealing with chronic financial challenges.

At the same, time, cash use has declined during the pandemic, as a PYMNTS survey found, with more than half of respondents saying they don’t plan to return to using cash once the COVID crisis ends.

The Salvation Army says that by expanding this traditionally cash-based program, it can potentially increase giving, allowing donors to choose a donation amount when they tap their card and be done in seconds.

“As people carry less and less cash in their pockets, its crucial for charities and community organizations that rely heavily on in-person donations, to provide a safe, secure and easy way for people to give,” said Chris Greenfield, founder and CEO of tiptap.

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This is the second holiday season in a row in which the Salvation Army has updated its donation system. In 2020, the organization announced donors would be able to send bitcoin and ethereum donations using Engiven’s cryptocurrency donation platform.