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Meaningful contact: How contactless technology is making giving easier

Contactless payment technology means donating to charity can be quick and easy. Graham White explains how Cancer Research UK is also making it engaging.

Contactless payment technology means donating to charity can be quick and easy. But it can make the experience of giving so fleeting that we lose the opportunity to engage with our supporters. At Cancer Research UK we have been looking at ways to enhance the donor experience in tandem with the demands of an increasingly cashless society.

One of the more successful initiatives in recent months has been though working with our corporate partner Hyundai as part of our joint national fundraising campaign with Channel 4, Stand Up To Cancer.

Earlier this year, we kicked off our partnership with the car brand by launching the world’s first fundraising contactless car at King’s Cross Railway Station, London. The modified Hyundai IONIQ Electric, in Stand Up To Cancer’s orange brand colour, was launched to the public by Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and TV celebrity Jake Humphrey.

Together with Hyundai, we made it easier than ever for our supporters to donate. The car has five contactless donation points fitted to the doors, bonnet and boot. It was launched in London, but will be touring around the country over the coming months, stopping at major motor events such as the Milton Keynes car show, the Grimsby Motor Show, and motor events in Westmorland and Romsey.

Value added experience

At the launch, Adams and Humphrey encouraged people to tap their cards and donate £5 or £10 as they passed through the station. But grabbing people’s attention is one thing; we also need to make sure their interaction is both meaningful and lasting.

As well as being “thanked” with an automatic flash of the car’s lights and an audio message, people can also see the digital totaliser on the car’s number plates increase to show the addition of their donation.

There is also an in-car photo booth, so people can jump in and have their photograph taken before sticking it to the outside of the car. The images of those who have donated to Stand Up To Cancer will eventually create a mosaic that covers the entire exterior. Donors can tweet their pictures and post them on Instagram and Facebook to help share the message.

These small touches not only help spread the word, but also take what could be a brief, five-second experience with our two brands and make it fun and personalised. Each supporter is directly acknowledged, rewarded and left with a greater understanding of Stand Up To Cancer’s life-saving work and how Hyundai is supporting our mission to beat cancer sooner with our research.

The launch of the contactless car had a fantastic response from the general public and more than £2,000 was raised in just one location in one day.

Aligned values

The success of the launch was no fluke; we chose to work with Hyundai and they chose us because our values are aligned. We are both bold and always seeking to try new things that push the boundaries. By creating the contactless car, Hyundai combined their expertise with our insights, highlighting the synergy between the brands.

At Cancer Research UK, we have been pioneering the use of contactless donations in fundraising, so we had confidence that Hyundai’s plans would hit the right note.

Every year in October, hundreds of volunteers take to the streets to do cash-bucket collections and raise funds for Stand Up To Cancer. Last year, we decided it was time to take our fundraising up a notch and equip these buckets with contactless technology. The contactless trial we did last year for Stand Up To Cancer was using Payter handheld devices. Since then we have upgraded the hardware and we have been using the contactless devices for collections across the country.

Supporter feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 25 per cent of income being generated from contactless donations when tap-todonate was available.

Digital benchmark

This has been part of much larger efforts to boost contactless donations. In February this year, to tie in with World Cancer Day, Cancer Research UK rolled out 10 world-first contactless benches across London. The solar-powered benches, which encourage people to tap and donate to Cancer Research UK, feature mobile phone charging ports and free wifi access, as well as a place to sit and socialise.

We have also incorporated contactless technology into some of our Cancer Research UK shop windows, making it easy for people to donate to charity without using up volunteer resource by having people on the streets.

Ultimately, where there is a strong fundraising ask, contactless needs to be a consideration. People don’t always carry cash and we simply cannot afford to alienate would-be supporters.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) found that 30 per cent of Britons would be more likely to donate to charity if they could using contactless technology. That’s a huge number of people that would happily tap to give, if only they had that option.

The best piece of advice for a charity and prospective partners is to be brave. There are, quite rightly, certain pressures and expectations that come with partnerships, but one of the most valuable questions to ask is whether your brand values are aligned. If the answer is yes, coming up with innovative activities that enhance both brands, create positive noise and reach as many people as possible, won’t be a tall order.

Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai UK’s president and CEO, summed up the partnership perfectly when he said: “Stand Up To Cancer and Hyundai share the same spirit of innovation.” If the generosity of those in the capital is replicated as the car continues its UK tour, we are confident our partnership with Hyundai will bring in huge amounts of money for Stand Up To Cancer.

Graham White is the director of Stand Up To Cancer and individual giving at Cancer Research UK