Does the cashless generation prefer to use digital technology to do good?

By Elliot Green

26 Jun 18

As we often find, technology can be something of a divisive topic. There are still many among us who seem to harbour an irrational fear of it, simply because it’s new. Hence heated debates about whether mobile phones should be permitted within school premises.

And it turns out that, despite the fact that debit and credit cards have been around for what in technology terms is ages, there are those who are panicking about the idea of a cashless society. But looking at more progressive and positive thinking nations, we see quite a different picture. Sweden, a country which is often leading trends and topping international rankings (they’ve even pioneered the 6-hour working day for us, with tremendous results) is expecting to abandon paper money within just five years. Already, only 13% of transactions involve any cash, reflected by the halving of all notes and coins in circulation in the country. 

Like the Swedes, we are all about embracing development and taking a flexible approach, and we think this is the key to accessing whole new realms of potential philanthropy. We can see how technology is revolutionising charitable endeavours much closer to home, in our very own capital city. 

When it comes to virtual reality, we've seen the growing role it might play in conferencing and also in human connection (in a less corporate sense), but it’s also becoming increasingly important in the charity sector. Even back in 2014, a virtual reality game was developed to convey terrible conditions through which some people have had to live. Players of This War of Mine have to rescue innocent civilians who are trapped in rubble or abandoned houses, starving, or ill. 

And now, Amnesty International (which is, by the way, a Wonderful charity) is giving its street fundraisers virtual reality headsets to take potential donors from Oxford Street to war-torn Aleppo. 

There has also been the development of cryptocurrency specifically for charities in AidCoin and also with the Red Cross and Save the Children trialling bitcoin donations. 

It’s this area of digital donations that we’ve been thinking about. According to the Institute of Fundraising, a massive 70% of charities has seen cash donations decrease since 2015. Even those who had not yet noticed a drop know that one is coming: 86% of charities predict that cash donations will drop over the next five years. On a slightly longer timeline, the government has estimated that by 2026 cash payments will make up around 21% of all transactions - translating to a drop of 40% in 20 years. 

Some are already thinking of ways to tackle the reduction in cash that people tend to carry with them. Some churches are amongst those organisations trying new cashless ways to make donations, with some allowing congregations to give money via text and over 16,000 churches being provided with terminals to take contactless card payments. 

Donating via the contactless method will also be an option for those impressed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and even buskers on the streets of London are going to start taking card payments. There’s even been the truly innovative move of creating vending machines for homeless people

There’s little doubt that moving with the times, getting creative with technology and facilitating digital giving is becoming increasingly crucial for a charity’s survival. But that isn’t always straightforward. There have been ethical and financial issues riddling the digital giving sector for years, with a lawsuit filed against PayPal for its lack of honesty regarding donation processes and JustGiving coming under frequent fire for the profits it derives from generous donors and fundraisers. 

And with this cashless generation also being increasingly concerned with corporate responsibility and able to access information about what organisations are really up to, it’s absolutely crucial that in our bid to regain the public’s trust, the charitable sector is raising funds ethically. 

When you’re looking to providing donors with a cashless, digital channel for their giving, remember that not all fundraising platforms were created equal. If you want to ensure that every penny that your hardworking fundraisers manage to raise reaches your charity, we urge you to use Wonderful. And it’s definitely not just us who think this is by far and away the best option: Money Saving Expert also put Wonderful at the top of their list of online giving sites. 

That’s because we take absolutely nothing from any donation. Thanks to our Wonderful Partners, money isn’t even lost to the fees that come with processing card payments, as they’re covered by corporate sponsorship

So to engage with as many potential donors and allow them to donate easily and with peace of mind, sign up to become a Wonderful charity today!

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The Co-operative Bank are proud to be the main sponsorship partner of the Wonderful Organisation supporting charities to make a difference by ensuring 100% of donations go directly to doing good. Learn more about the Bank’s values and ethics.

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Our Sponsors support the platform in kind by providing access to commercial and professional services on a pro-bono basis; through staff secondment and access to volunteers; or by making financial contributions to cover our operating costs.

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