5 things we learnt trialing contactless

Some of you avid readers will remember my blog from last year where I spoke about contactless and how other charities were using it. Consider this my follow up, the sequel if you will.

Dan Papworth-Smyth
Jul 19, 2017 · 3 min read
Photo: Jordan Curtis Hughes for Teenage Cancer Trust

Earlier this year we (Teenage Cancer Trust) trialed contactless donation points at our annual shows at the Royal Albert Hall. Normally fundraising at the event is largely focused on text donations and bucket collections for cash, so this was a new direction for us. I spoke about this, and more, as part of the digital stream organised by James, Matt, and Lisa at the recent Institute of Fundraising Convention at the Barbican Centre.

Here’s some things we learnt as we went through our trial:

1. Get internal buy in early on

Something like contactless will end up involving quite a few teams around the organisation — fundraising operations, finance, volunteering… Make sure you get them involved early and find out their requirements and input before getting too far into the project.

Their involvement and support makes things much easier when it comes to getting new donation processes set up, not to mention the trial itself.

2. Technology solutions are evolving fast

When we first started looking at potential suppliers there was only really one, but by the time we’d finished the trial there were a handful of new companies dipping their toes into the water.

We were fortunate to meet GoodBox and agree to be their first partner just at the right time. Their brand new devices let us utilise visual content with a screen that was far larger and clearer than other portable devices on the market.

Photo: Jordan Curtis Hughes for Teenage Cancer Trust

3. Quick reporting allows you to learn on the go

We received daily reports and graphs which meant we were able to react to the previous night’s performance. We could work out the strongest locations and even experiment with price points.

This feedback loop is useful to get the most out of your trial so ensure you can get data turned around quickly after each day or session, to inform and maximise fundraising.

4. Technology is new, and can be temperamental

Have backup plans.

Trialing anything is likely to come with hiccups, so it’s important to know what you’re going to do when one of these happens. Whether that’s an escalation policy, FAQs for volunteers with the devices, tech support available, or all of the above, you can’t underprepare.

5. Less impact than expected on cash collections

When we first started with planning the test, we were conscious that offering another method of giving might have an impact on our existing donation channels. Cash in particular was something we thought would suffer.

But in fact cash donations increased at this year’s event in spite of contactless also being available. Seemingly concert goers who might not have donated were able to give, rather than stealing people away who would rather donate in a bucket. This might be different at other events, but with our specific audience we found this to be the case.

The trial definitely showed there’s interest in giving via contactless more than just as a novelty. It’s just working out exactly how, where and when to best use it to maximise this and ensure that everyone who wants to donate this way, can.

Dan Papworth-Smyth

Written by

Head of Digital Engagement at @BCCare and @BreastCancerNow, formerly of @TeenageCancer. Sometimes I take photos too. Views are my own.

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