Salvation Army Introduces Kettle Pay for Mobile NFC Donations

Consumers are quickly becoming less and less reliant on carrying physical cash. With debit cards, credit cards, and now even more secure mobile payment solutions approaching universal acceptance, consumers can shop, run errands and navigate day-to-day life without cash. For many, this shift has simplified life, but for organizations like The Salvation Army that are heavily reliant on spontaneous in-person donations, our increasingly cashless society has proved problematic. To adapt to this cashless world in the 2019 holiday season, The Salvation Army worked with both ClearScale and GoToTags to develop a seamless, intuitive mobile payment solution.

Having worked with ClearScale during the 2018 holiday season to test the viability of the project with QR codes, The Salvation Army’s web-based mobile donation application was dialed-in and ready to scale. ClearScale’s payment processing integrations allowed for a smooth transfer of funds through both Google Pay and Apple Pay. However, recognizing the rapid growth of contactless payments, The Salvation Army also wanted to incorporate more familiar and secure tap-to-pay functionality. To do this, they needed to leverage Near Field Communication (NFC) technology; that is when they reached out to GoToTags.

In need of both NFC tags and NFC tag encoding, The Salvation Army’s Kettle Pay solution required a high-volume of tags to roll out the initiative nationwide. Each tag then needed to be encoded such that they would integrate with the previously developed ClearScale solution. While the customer facing experience of a tap-to-pay system is quite simple, the backend is a bit more sophisticated. To be effective, The Salvation Army’s NFC tags needed to be compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphones. What’s more, the campaign also intended to affix the tags directly to the iconic Red Kettle stations — an often overlooked detail as standard NFC tags are inhibited by metal surfaces.

GoToTags was able to identify a solution for The Salvation Army, providing an on-metal NFC token with a 3M™ adhesive backing that could be easily affixed to the kettles. Each tag featured the popular and cost-effective NTAG213 NFC chip which was encoded with an NDEF website record to ensure compatibility with both iPhone and Android devices. The final solution allowed for a passerby without cash to quickly tap their smartphone to the kettle, select their desired amount, and finalize their donation via Apple Pay or Google Pay.

While contactless payments are not yet ubiquitous in the US, they are quickly gaining momentum. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 52% of Americans from 18- to 49-year-old say they “don’t really worry much about having cash on hand. Across the pond, in Europe, the adoption of NFC payments has already reached the majority and shows no signs of slowing; 61% of all European in-store transactions are contactless, an increase of 23% since early 2018. The Salvation Army’s simple yet adaptive NFC solution not only addresses the societal pivot away from cash, but also comes ahead of the curve in recognizing the burgeoning importance of incorporating mobile-first solutions and collecting actionable data. In addition to on-the-spot fundraising, these new digital donations also allow the organization to follow up by email, yielding opportunity for further engagement and future giving.

Without question, there’s a growing void between the physical and digital world, but with creative NFC applications, organizations like The Salvation Army are effectively bridging the gap.