Contactless donation is a first step for charities, but there’s still a long way to go. Giving was made easier, but charities could do a better job of compelling people to give in the first place.

The solution can be found in the world of digital technology – looking at how we can digitise, connect, and leverage data.

Let’s take, for example, the donation box sitting in every corner shop in England. They’re plastic-y, uncompelling and hardly inspire trust. And yet every charity still uses them.

I believe that one solution lies in digitising these, which is a project we’re exploring at Matrix. Imagine that, in place of a box, we have a display screen that takes contactless payment and is connected to the internet (all capabilities that are rapidly falling in cost nowadays).

Suddenly charities can start thinking much more digitally about ‘giving’. And by connecting these new smart boxes, they can start deploying strategies at both a macro or micro level. For example:

  • Straight after a natural disaster, messaging could be pushed out with a real-time feed of progress vs a target
  • Information could also be hyper-localised – imagine seeing the faces of old people you’ve passed, on a box appealing for support for a care home

But importantly this would allow charities to digitise their learning and start optimising campaigns – delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time, to maximise donations.

Even without connectivity, a digital display would allow the giving process to become more immersive – a video of the beneficiary saying ‘thank you’, a game to get a top score or an animated version of those wonderful RNLI coin bouncers could all help. But we needn’t guess at what will work – once a testing platform is built, the data will speak for itself.

The fact is that we live in the most charitable country in Europe – the intent is there, and the technologies are available – now we just need charities to make the jump.