Walk through any large railway station and you can expect to see charity collectors with collection buckets.

In our almost cashless society, how often do you now find yourself without change? How many times do similar circumstances occur, for example collections at the local supermarket? With the emergence of contactless cards, how many people now routinely carry coins?

According to the UK Cards Association, as of January 2017:

  • There are a total of 104.4m contactless cards in issue in the UK
  • £3,186.2m was spent in the UK per month using a contactless card (an increase of 188% from 2016)
  • Over 350m contactless transactions are made per month.

Our ever-increasing cashless society and the phenomena of digital transformation must therefore be affecting not-for-profit organisations. In 2015, consumers used cash for less than half of all payments. By 2021, the use of cash is expected to be overtaken by debit card and contactless payments, according to Payments UK, which represents major banks, building societies and payment providers. This trend was supported by the ING Mobile Banking 2017 – Cashless Society survey (ING Cashless Society 2017).

When thinking about solving this not-for-profit organisations need to embrace digital transformation. Two of Microsoft’s four core pillars of a digital transformation are customer engagement and product transformation. That is to engage with your customers consistently across the channels of their choice, when they want, and use the data that’s collected to build an intelligent and personalised experience for each customer. At the same time, products and services must be re-invented for the digital world to capitalise on the emerging revenue opportunities.

Incremental has several not-for-profit customers with great digital transformation programs who consistently talk about the massive competition for donations in the not-for-profit sector. The implications for the organisations who aren’t reacting quickly enough are immense – they face being left behind by the disruptors and forward thinkers.

Looking across the sector, it’s fascinating to see what innovative organisations are doing. For example, the ‘Tap Dogs’ campaign run by animal welfare charity Blue Cross. ‘Tap dogs’ Maverick the Border Collie, Cherry the Lurcher, Ralph the Old English Sheepdog-cross and Labradors Rosie and Smudge were kitted out in specially-designed jackets which incorporate contactless card technology. Anyone wishing to donate can simply pat the dog’s jackets with their contactless card to make a payment!

In a 2015 trial, Cancer Research UK put contactless card readers in four shop windows to turn them into a donation channel – with a single tap you could donate £2 and help save a life. In the trial, 70,000 people positively engaged with this new way of donating. Then, for World Cancer Day in 2016, they scaled-up by holding fundraising collections using contactless donation terminals in 16 locations across the UK.

For the same event in 2017, Cancer Research introduced 100 ‘smart benches’ in London. Developed in partnership with Strawberry Energy and MKTG, the solar-powered benches “enhance public spaces” by providing mobile device charging ports and free wi-fi access, as well as a place to sit and socialise. The public could then choose to use their contactless card to tap the bench and donate £2 to the charity.

In 2016, the Big Issue trialled contactless payments to help the homeless in recognition of the impact Britain’s move towards a cashless society was having on sales. The magazine, which is sold by homeless people, has suffered because increasingly people are walking up and down Britain’s high streets without coins and notes in their pockets. In response, the charity is now working with a number of mainstream banks and technology firms to install a cashless system which will be rolled out nationwide to let customers pay by tap-and-go technology.

With the emergence of the above solutions, while we may still be “in a rush”, we might no longer able to say “sorry – I don’t have any cash on me”. Donors can easily donate the amount they want by touching their card, which might be more than they would have donated in spare change. In addition, similar to Uber cashless taxis, cashless systems will be safer for those collecting the funds, as a e-collection box will be worthless to anyone tempted to try and walk off with it.

While some consumers still don’t trust their contactless card, for the majority it’s quickly become a way of life, and that trend will only continue. It is only a matter of time before every organisation, including not-for-profit, has to embrace this type of technology.

Find out how we have helped our not-for-profit customers embrace digital change and how we can help you – get in touch today.