Can Square Donations Save the Salvation Army?

It's about to get a lot harder to dodge the charity you've been so studiously avoiding. The NYTimes reports that the Salvation Army is testing a new way of collecting digital donations this year: Santas with Sqaure.

That ringing bell isn't your conscience, it's the future of your curbside charitable donation. Maybe. The Salvation Army is experimenting with Square at 40 total locations in four cities across the country: Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The bell ringing Santas will be strapped with Android phones sporting Square credit card readers. The hope is that Square is so easy that it will fair better than the credit card terminals the Salvation Army tried using three years ago, which only pulled in $60,000 in donations. This compared to the $148 million in cash and coins tossed into those little red kettles in 2010. Let's see if it works.

While there's always the chance people will decline to donate using Square—just as they did the credit card terminals—it seems like a no brainer going forward. People are increasingly more likely to have plastic than currency in their pockets not to mention the fact that as the system works now, there's always a great excuse not to donate. If all it took to clear your conscience was a quick swipe and a signature, a lot more people might actually do it. Square could make contributions so fast that just about the only excuse left in your arsenal would be "I'm broke." [NYTimes and Square; Image: Shutterstock]


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