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November 17, 2021

Cash or not, the Salvation Army is coming for your donation this year

Salvation Army kettle captains, God bless ‘em, must hear the following more often than a street escort looking like Rosie O’Donnell: “Sorry, haven’t got any cash.”

SALVATION-1-popupAnd just like that, the passerby nods, and on the charity workers go ringing their bells, braving the cold. That’s how it’s been at kettle sites on city streets and out front Walmarts for years.

But these holidays, the Salvation Army in some cities won’t let commuters and shoppers off so easy.

Many will be equipped with cell phones fitted with mobile payment systems, so anyone with a credit card – that is, most every consumer known to man – will have a tough time shrugging their shoulders when faced with solicitation this year.

According to the New York Times, the famed charity will test arming donation collectors in four U.S. cities with Android smartphones enabled with Square, the mobile payment system from Jack Dorsey, the guy who also co-founded Twitter.

From the NYT: “(The phones) are equipped with Square’s postage-stamp-size card reader and two apps, one from Square and one from the Salvation Army. Donors swipe a card, just as they would at any credit card processing terminal, and the money goes into the Salvation Army’s account.”

*Bing: Signs a charity is a scam

For the sake of disclosure, the Salvation Army has tried credit card donations before, previously setting up terminals beside its kettles to collect plastic payment. Yet by the charity’s numbers, only $60,000 was gathered that way in 2009; by contrast, more than $148 million was collected in coins and bills in the U.S. last year alone.

But the Army is sure testing the versatile capabilities of Square – only a swipe and signature are needed, whereas the credit card terminals were considered too “cumbersome,” according to a charity spokesperson – will better connect with donors passing by on the street.

No word yet on if, or when, Square will arrive for use alongside Canada’s Salvation Army kettles, but the technology’s potential is becoming quite apparent.

If the Girl Guides can use the mobile payment system to swindle Facebook employees into buying 400 boxes of cookies in an hour, why wouldn't more charities use Square to corner donors into giving where they might not otherwise?

By Jason Buckland, MSN money 

*Photo courtesy Square.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...