The Salvation Army is now accepting digital donations.
The established charity began using the mobile payment application “Square” that accepts credit card swipes by way of smartphone.
“A lot of people just don’t carry cash any more,” said Maj. George Hood, the Salvation Army’s spokesperson, to the New York Times. “We’re basically trying to make sure we’re keeping up with our donors and embrace the new technologies they’re embracing.”
Bell ringers will carry Sprint-donated Android smartphones equipped with Square’s app, accompanying card reader, and the “Salvation Army” app.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Lucy Bernholz, a nonprofit expert, to the New York Times. “It’s frictionless and will make it so easy to give that if the person ringing the bell can get your attention, there’s no excuse any more because chances are you’ve got a credit card in your pocket.”
Jack Dorsey, Square’s cofounder and chief executive, who also CO-founded Twitter, said square only requires a swipe-and-sign.
“Instead of training people on an entirely new behavior, an entirely new way to pay, we just use what they know,” said Dorsey to the New York Times. “It doesn’t require them to learn anything new and it doesn’t require the merchant or organization to learn anything new.”
Donors can swipe their card and the money goes directly into the Salvation Army’s account after processing. Square charges a 2.75 percent fee on every transaction, a majority of which goes to the credit card companies.
The Army used traditional credit card machines three years ago in the Red Kettle Campaign with mixed results.
“The credit card terminals really haven’t been a blockbuster, I’ll be candid,” Hood said. “The winter elements have been a negative, people have to go through a process of entering data, and it’s just generally more cumbersome than we think Square will be.”
William Raduchel, a technology startup investor who worked at Sun Microsystems, AOL and Xerox, and is a member of the Salvation Army’s national advisory board, hatched the Square partnership.
“When I saw Square, I realized immediately the implications for the Army in terms of getting money,” said Raduchel to the New York Times.
The Salvation Army plans to offer Square at 10 main locations in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas.