Gromit Unleashed 2, the latest Bristol-based sculpture trail from award-winning charity Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, will be incorporating contactless donation points along the art trail to aid the Bristol Children’s Hospital — a project that is as much a necessity as it is an innovation in the U.K.'s aggressively contactless environment.

Indeed, contactless payments have grown by nearly twentyfold in the three years to June 2017, according to this HM Treasury analysis. But the Charity Finance Group (CFG), despite recognising back in 2015 that contactless donations had huge potential, now says “charities are lagging behind on contactless technology,” and requests that the government work with technology firms to provide discounted access to contactless technology.

Gromit Unleashed LEGO sculpture
The LEGO sculpture 'Cracking Build Gromit!' as part of Gromit Unleashed 2, a sculpture trail from the charity Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal. Aardman/W&G Ltd

The problem is pretty straightforward. We are using cards more and carrying less cash around, and reports suggest charities are feeling the strain.

A 2017 Barclarycard survey found that cash-only charities miss out on more than £80 million in donations each year. Members from the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) were surveyed and disclosed a wide gap between the payment methods fundraisers accept and those that donors wish to use:

  • 70% report a decrease in the percentage of overall donations given in cash,
  • 86% of respondents expect a decrease in the number of future cash donations, and
  • 74% of respondents have yet to try contactless payment systems to take donations.

Why aren’t charities implementing contactless payments?
It seems that the initial investment is prohibitive. Fifty-seven percent of charities said the cost of contactless technology is preventing adoption and implementation. CFG maintains that charities are in need of government support to modernise how they accept donations.

New technologies are focusing on providing payment services for this sector.

For example, there is tap+DONATE, the contactless offering from firm DONATE, which has a £250 one-off setup cost or a monthly rental fee of £85 for use of its software and hardware. This service requires a wireless connection to a smartphone running the tap+DONATE Apple or Android app. The per-transaction fee structure is 4.5%

Or there is Goodbox, which is creating a contactless terminal that makes it easy for museums and other good causes to take donations from a card. Goodbox terminals are already used by 12 Church of England cathedrals, five hospitals and some top attractions — including the Natural History Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

In 2016, Barclaycard supported 11 charities, including the NSPCC and the RNLI, to trial contactless donation boxes.

So it feels as though the market is attracting technologists to resolve the cash donation problem.

Wallace and Gromit and payments
Gromit Unleashed 2 is a sign that fundraisers are responding to the market for contactless donations.

For two months starting in July, trailblazers will be able give a tap-and-go donation at one of 17 unattended contactless payment points along the Wallace and Gromit sculpture trail, located across Bristol and the surrounding area.

Payment solution company Creditcall, with help from contactless terminal maker Payter, freely provided these 17 contactless donation points to the appeal.

“Gromit Unleashed 2 will be unlike any arts trail in the world, thanks to the support of our ‘trailblazing’ partners," Lauren Howard, head of brand, communications and digital at The Grand Appeal, told PaymentsSource.

Contactless donations, set at £2, £5 or £10, can be made via credit and debit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay.

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