Woman using contactless device to donate money.

Going contactless for charity donations: what we can learn from GoodBox

16 December 2021

The article at a glance

As cash giving continues to decline and card payments have quickly dominated the way we spend, we find ourselves tapping our way through cafes, shops, and even train stations with less of us carrying a jingling pocket full of change.

by Jenna-Mae, Senior Marketing Executive at GoodBox

As cash giving continues to decline and card payments have quickly dominated the way we spend, we find ourselves tapping our way through cafes, shops, and even train stations with less of us carrying a jingling pocket full of change.

So, with contactless devices popping up in every tube station, shop, and taxi in the country, why shouldn’t charities adopt the same approach? Especially when, according to the Charities Aid Foundation (2021) UK Giving Report, “Cash giving all but disappeared at some points during 2020 and in 2021 it remains below historic levels.”

With contactless technology having outstripped cash payments since 2017, GoodBox‘s contactless technology is uniquely positioned to provide data driven insight into the behaviours and trends of how individual charities and organisations raise money as well as additional insight into the charity sector.

As of 2021, GoodBox has worked with over 2,000 charities of all sizes to either lease or purchase contactless devices, built specifically for the non-profit sector. In addition, the team have also worked on projects to build bespoke devices for larger reception areas with high footfall, such as museums, cathedrals, and visitor centres, raising over £10 million in funds to enable vital research and operations, and maintain beautiful and historic buildings.

The journey

Designing the innovative and award-winning hardware and software was a tough but rewarding journey. In 2019, the founders pitched at Seedrs with a prototype device and a big dream. With a crisp 5.5-inch display and software that allows for personalisation and on the fly remote updates, the GBx Core was the start of eliminating the charity sector’s lag in adopting contactless. Created with a user-friendly interface and open-field technology, for spontaneous contactless donations, as well as a quick transacting time, the GBx Core is an easy “tap and go” fundraising system, unlike that provided with a commercial device.

Building on the flagship GBx Core the additional range of devices includes the smaller yet versatile GBx Mini allowing organisations to collect funds in chip and pin mode with no limits to donation and is great for events and auctions. Both devices are intuitive and have a sleek design that have online and offline functionality ensuring their practical use in all environments.

Francesca Hodgson.
GoodBox Founder & COO Francesca at Cambridge Business School

The suite of devices, whether custom or off the shelf, gives charities access to the data management software that is the GoodPortal. The GoodPortal allows the decisions being made by charities to be truly data-driven, consolidating all fundraising data and making it easier to keep on top of contactless fundraising insights and trends.

Impacting the third sector

Due to experience, we have seen that our technology isn’t always a great fit for all charities and organisations, as smaller fundraisers contend with the lack of volunteers and costs often outweigh the potential benefits of leasing or purchasing a device.

GoodBox still endeavours to help, whether charities are just starting out or want to understand how to best optimise the resources they already have, providing a wealth of free assets including frequent blog posts on topics like understanding your statutory rights as a charity and how to write a proposal for charity fundraising. There is also a podcast hosted by Co-Founder & COO Francesca Hodgson, who sits down with philanthropists and leaders in the charity and tech-for-good sectors to talk about what inspires them.

Getting stuck in

Attendees at the Microscope Ball 2021.
Attendees at the Microscope Ball 2021

It’s safe to say that we were all unsure as to what post-COVID-19 (coronavirus) fundraising would look like, and if we would see the return of in-person fundraising events. After testing the waters, Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) with the help of the GoodBox consulting service GoodPartner, proved that we had no need to worry. They hosted events in September and November – and raised totals matching pre-pandemic levels.

Through their hard work, MDUK have helped around 985 people access the care and support services they are entitled to; securing £1.5 million worth of benefits, services, and equipment in 2019. To continue with their crucial work in the field, MDUK holds several fundraising events to raise thousands of pounds to further their cause. This year, two of their biggest annual fundraisers was supported by GoodBox’s GoodPartners’, including their annual Microscope Ball and their Celebrity Sports Quiz.

Gone are the days where having no cash was a barrier to participate in fundraising, people are used to tapping their cards and phones in everyday life and fundraising events should be no different. The partnership with GoodBox has enabled us to do this successfully by giving every single volunteer a device, which are easy to use through contactless and chip and pin.

Muscular Dystrophy UK

By employing GoodBox fundraising devices, and with the assistance of GoodPartner, it all went off without a hitch, MDUK were able to beat their budget targets this year. Overall, a combined £410,000 was raised for MDUK through table sales, auctions, games, raffles, and pledges on both events. These generous donations enable MDUK to continue funding ground-breaking research into treatments and cures and provide vital support to families and individuals with muscle-wasting conditions.

Going down in history

A great example of an organisation using custom built solutions is the Natural History Museum (NHM). The NHM attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but the museum only received donations from a small proportion of its visitors. As a charity, the NHM relies on this support from its donors to both maintain the museum and help fuel its work in helping to protect the natural world. With the rise of contactless payments, it was becoming rarer that the NHM’s visitors would be carrying around spare change to donate with. Situated in London, the leading city in the UK for cashless payments, the NHM knew it needed to adjust if it wanted to continue to generate funds.

GoodBox has been working with the NHM since launching contactless collection devices in early 2017. ​The idea was simple – to increase the number of donations received by the museum’s visitors by making donating as easy as a tap. Manned by museum staff to encourage visitors to donate, the GoodBox units helped the NHM raise an extra £1.9 million in additional revenue since launch. The museums purpose-built hardware has also been rolled out in Places of Worship and creates a permanent presence in larger spaces – encouraging user curiosity and interaction.

We’ve raised an extra £1,000,000 in donations. We wouldn’t have that income if we didn’t have GoodBox.

National History Museum

When all is said and done

By using GoodBox contactless donation technology, utilising our expertise and experience in the sector alongside our data driven insights, non-profits and charities have seen an return of investment of as much as 2,485%. Despite this being an amazing feat for the GoodBox team, it is even more incredible to see the impact the additional funds have had on the phenomenal causes, communities, charities, individuals and volunteers the money has been raised for. GoodBox will continue to innovate and make this new digital space accessible to as many fundraisers as possible, taking the third sector into the digital age.