Charitable giving through ATMs idea presented


The government has suggested a number of ways to encourage Britons to give money to charity. Among the ideas, which feature in a newly published green paper on giving, are proposals to give consumers the opportunity to donate money at ATM machines, as well as an option to 'round up to the pound' when making credit card transactions.


Government aims to facilitate giving
The Cabinet Office has published the government's initial ideas for improving the nation's attitude towards giving and encouraging people to donate money to charitable causes. Ministers are particularly keen to make it easier for people to donate, for instance by adding a small amount to credit card transactions. According to the green paper, which was published December 29, they want the giving of money to be "simple, flexible, high impact, and properly recognised and celebrated".

'Round up to the pound'
One of the innovative ideas outlined in the document is the concept of allowing customers to round transactions up to the nearest pound when paying by debit or credit card. "As the number of cash transactions declines and the use of cards continues to grow, this could generate significant new funds for charities," the paper points out. The government plans to convene a working group of businesses to discuss the roll-out of this initiative in conjunction with the Pennies Foundation, which has developed the required technology and has already started working with Domino's Pizza.

ATM giving
Another idea proposed by the government is based on an existing method used in Colombia, whose system of ATM giving "allows customers to make a donation every time they withdraw money." According to the green paper: "We want banks and ATM providers to let us know how we might make this happen in the UK and whether there are ways we can facilitate this."

A spokeswoman for the Payments Council told the Financial Times that the idea of allowing customers to donate via ATMs should be feasible, as the Link network already enables users to top up their mobile phone. "I don't see why this couldn't work. It's another button on the cash machine, isn't it?" she observed.

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said that Britain is already a "generous nation." He added: "This green paper is welcome as it seeks to kick-start some new initiatives which will make it easy to give and to build up existing ones."

See related: Britons relying on credit cards for daily spend, Online credit spending averages £192 a month

Published: 21 January 2011