Which contactless Point of Donation product should I choose for fundraising?

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January 7, 2020

Which Contactless Donation Unit Should I Buy?

So let start by addressing the an important issue.  Why should you trust our advice, seeing as we make and sell contactless units? Surely you’re just going to tell me that yours are the best?

Well of course we do believe in our products, but we understand that this is a really new way of fundraising, with all sorts of different approaches, and that its more a question of the right tool for the job, rather one tool being the best. We have also been on a journey starting in 2014 to investigate many potential options in this area and can share our insights.

Our strategy is that if we can be as unbiased as we can, we’ll become a useful resource for charities researching what will work best for them.  So naturally you’ll find out about our products too, and consider if they are right for you.  We’ll also be part of the conversation about what’s important, which will help us develop those products in the future.

I’m afraid we have to face up early on to the fact that this isn’t simple. There are quite a lot of things you need to consider. Hopefully however, by thinking this stuff through, the final choice of units will be easier and you’ll raise lots of donations.  Fundamentally the question is:

How are you planning on using your units?

Are you going to have volunteers collecting in the street, or door to door?  Will they be on a reception desk of a Corporate partner (and every now and then taken around their office for a bake sale)?  Will your professional face to face fundraisers keep them in their metaphorical back pocket? Perhaps they are waiting to see if people are against signing up to a Direct Debit but open to making a one-off contactless payment on the spot?  Will you use them at your Gala Ball?

Knowing this will help you answer the next questions:

1. Fixed or mobile?

Do you want to install your unit and then be able to leave it unattended? Would it be useful if you could leave it on a counter top (with someone nearby), or to pick it up and carry it around?   Unattended units need to be certified for use in that way and screwed down somehow.  Counter top units should be locked to a secure object, usually with a Kensington lock. Both will need to be plugged into the mains.  Mobile units need a battery, the capacity of which depends on how long you typically collect for.

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Fixed:    
Countertop:  
Mobile:

2. Wifi, mobile SIM (3 or 4G), offline or fixed line?

Your unit will need to connect to internet somehow to process the card transactions.  Installed units might use an ethernet cable or reliable wifi, counter top usually Wifi or the mobile SIM and units being carried about usually need mobile SIM and maybe the ability to store up transactions and process them later (offline). Though be aware that payments with phones (Apple Pay, Android Pay, etc can’t be done offline).

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Wifi:
Mobile SIM:  
Offline:    
Fixed Line:    

3. Regular or occasional use?

Units are charged for in different ways.  Some your buy, some you rent or lease.  Some have a monthly cost per unit, some don’t.  If you’re using it a lot, and getting lots of donations, a monthly cost is probably fine.  The ROI when they’re used in the right way is very impressive.  However if they’re used for a few specific events, you might want to find something with an ongoing cost.

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Available without monthly cost:    
Only available with monthly cost:    

4. Donations over £30?

£30 is currently the maximum value for a contactless transaction using a card in the UK.  That might be plenty, but if you’re potentially going to use your unit for higher value donations, then the ability to do chip and pin transactions will be important. We’ve seen individual transactions several times higher than this that would be missed without Chip and Pin.  There may also be some donors who still prefer not to use their cards contactlessly, or whose cards aren’t yet set up for it.

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Chip & PIN and contactless:    
Contactless only:    

5. What’s included?

Some units are all in one, and all you need do is charge them up and off you go (though please do this overnight, not just for 20mins before you set out!)  Others need you to supply a mobile device to link to them via bluetooth, and control them in an App.  Who’s doing the collecting might affect whether this matters or not.

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
No phone needed:  
Phone required:      

6. Gift Aid?

Whilst it’s not possible to lift and pre-fill a donors name and address from their card when they tap (the way contactless transactions are secured doesn’t allow this). Some units do however allow donors to tap this info into a screen after they’ve donated, so that you can submit the declaration to HMRC to collect Gift Aid.  The really clever ones will then recognise when a donor uses that card again and pre-fill the info.

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Full GiftAid Reporting:      
GiftAid Deductions: No – you get 100%      

7. Interactivity

If a unit is being held by a smiley, friendly human being, then the ‘ask’ is coming from them.  If it is unattended, or on a counter top, you might need the unit itself to make more of the ask.  Images, or even video make this more compelling.  Though any human nearby who can add to this will make a huge difference.

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Images: printed wrap printed card
Video:      

8. Choice

Some units just offer the option to collect a single pre-set amount.  Whereas others have a screen or button so that the donor can select the amount they want to give.  A screen offers the greatest clarity for donors and flexibility on the number of amounts offered

 
  CollecTin More Goodbox CollecTin + mPOS Payter
Single fixed amount:    
Physical Button to index amounts:      
Screen to change amounts:    

9. Speed

In some situations, such as a station collection, the ability to quickly collect many transactions of the same amount, one after another, is important.  For this the card reader needs to automatically re-arm for the next donation

 
  CollecTin +iZettle mPOS CollecTin + Barclaycard mPOS CollecTin More + SumUp
Repeating fixed amount donation: iOS App only Android App only Requires 1 amount to be touched
Maximum Transaction Speed: 9 per minute per min 6 per minute

Products and Suppliers

Of course each company may supply a number of different units, so please don’t take this list as definitive

CollecTin More

CollecTin More is a standalone unit with a screen running an app for customised digital campaigns so that donors can choose the amount they want to give.

CollecTin More including SumUp Air reader
CollecTin More to use with your own SumUp

CollecTin + mPOS

Both our units supercharge mPOS card readers to make them more effective for fundraising and can be used counter top or carried around.  The CollecTin pairs with a mobile to collect one fixed amount, whereas the CollecTin More is a standalone unit with a screen so that donors can choose the amount they want to give.

Compare features and costs
CollecTin for iZettle
CollecTin for SumUp
CollecTin for Barclaycard
CollecTin for PayPal Here

Goodbox

The main product is the Goodbox Core.  It can used used counter top or carried about and has a screen so that donors can select the amount they want to give. Goodbox have developed their own reader and software, so control the whole experience.  It can save up transactions offline (except phone payments) and transmit them once a signal is available.  It is sold direct from Goodbox.  They also do a smaller version like a mPOS which includes a mobile SIM card.

Goodbox Core
Goodbox mini

mPOS

There are four principal providers of mPOS readers in the UK.  They usually have a secure app on your phone, which then connects to the car reader by bluetooth. They are cheap to buy, but primarily designed to be used by businesses taking payments, not charities taking donations.  SumUp and Square have now developed a version that includes a SIM card, so that no phone is needed.  (Our CollecTin accessories are designed to work with these products to repurpose them for Fundraising.)

Barclaycard Anywhere
iZettle*
Square
SumUp*
SumUp 3G*

Payter

Payter is a dutch company, whose card reader we used to create and trial the first mobile donation units in 2015.   It is certified for unattended use.  In can be supplied with or without a battery for use out and about.  Several companies offer Payter’s.

Liberty Pay
Pay a Charity*
Lloyds Cardnet

Hopefully you’ve found this page helpful.  If you’ve tried a unit that isn’t mentioned here, I’d be most grateful if you could let me know about it, and your experience of using it, and I’ll update the page.

Written by: Chris Allwood
Last updated: February 2020

*full disclosure, we get a small commission payment if you use this link or mention that you read about them here.

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