There are few industries that haven’t been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with fundraising and philanthropy no exception to the rule. While the importance of the charity sector has been elevated in the midst of the pandemic, declining cash balances and restrictions on fundraising events restricted corporate and consuming giving.

As many Australians faced unemployment and financial hardship, a general tightening of the purse strings – compounded by hygiene concerns around cash – saw a considerable drop in the value of charitable donations at a time when they were needed most. A recent study of over 350 Australian charities found that 67% experienced a significant decrease in fundraising in March and April and as of April, 85% of charities indicated that social distancing restrictions affected their ability to carry out their work.

This was a situation that extended beyond Australian borders. According to a global report by Giving Tuesday, an organisation which aims to increase charitable donations, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents reported a drop in volunteer activity and fundraising.

Mass closures of businesses, including non-for-profits and community centres where a considerable amount of philanthropic work takes place, forced many charitable organisations to reassess how they provided support for those in need.

Ironically, at a time when Australia’s fundraising and philanthropic sector was elevated to “essential service” status, the very same circumstances threatened its viability altogether.

A role for government and industry

Born out of the situation has been the rise of a number of vocal charity groups who have continued to call on government and industry for stronger support of the sector. There have also been a number of initiatives launched to assist the charity sector as we progress through the recovery.

This has included the establishment of the Charities Crisis Cabinet – a group of 21 leaders from across the breadth of the charities sector who have worked to enable charities to support their communities through the pandemic to ensure as many as possible can contribute to the rebuilding of society as we progress through the recovery.

In September the Royal Australian Mint also launched of the world’s first ‘donation dollar’ – a coin specifically designed to be donated – with plans to place millions of the coins into circulation over the coming years to encourage Australians to give back to a charity of their choice.

With around 1 in 4 charities depend on giving and philanthropy for 50% or more of their total revenue, it’s critical those that can, step up to ensure this essential service is robust enough to weather the financial and operational shocks – and increased demand –  brought about by the pandemic.

A thriving charity sector will be crucial to the future productivity and wellbeing of the Australian community. Government and industry must continue innovating and working collaboratively in order to safeguard the livelihood of Australian charities.

The launch of Quest’s Donation Point product range  

While there’s no refuting the impact of COVID-19 on the value of cash donations being made in Australia, the transition to a ‘less cash society’ and the rise in digital and contactless payments options is nothing new.

In light of this trend and the apparent move away from traditional fundraising methods, in 2017, Quest Payments began rolling out our Donation Point product range which enables people to make ‘impulse’ donations with contactless payment technology in the same way they used to put small change in coin collection tins.

These easy-to-use products are increasing the donation amounts being realised by charitable organisations. ‘Digital donations’ are deposited directly into the organisation’s bank account every evening, improving cash flow. This fast, seamless process means there is now no need to engage a third party to collect, count and deposit the donated cash – avoiding the security concerns and overheads associated with accepting cash donations.

Quest’s Donation Point product range enables charities and not for profit organisations to accept contactless donations safely and securely at any location, ensuring community support can continue to flow during these challenging times.

Quest’s current Donation Point product range includes: 

1. Donation Point TapAllows charities to accept contactless payment donations and removes the barrier of ‘no spare change’, encouraging donations using a contactless card or mobile 

2. Donation Point GoAllows charities and not-for-profits to collect donations where face-to-face contact is limited, providing a QR code that can be placed on digital or physical assets which donors can scan and be directed to a customised donation page for the charity  

3. Donation Point Mobile – Uses a contactless payment device connected to the Donation Point Mobile application or a smart phone or tablet, allowing charities to accept donations electronically   

4. Donation Point Event – The ‘go to’ device for fundraising events which allows donors to choose an amount, tap their card to donate and enter their email address for a digital receipt. The solution takes away the need for volunteers to be on hand with EFTPOS terminals to take donations.   

5. Donation Point Kiosk – An on-site self-service kiosk solution designed for larger charities which accepts donations from eftpos debit, VISA, MasterCard and Amex cards, including contactless cards and near-field community-enabled mobile devices. 

More information about Quest’s Donation Point product range can be found here

Jan Mason is CEO of Quest Payment Systems, based in Melbourne. Jan has been CEO at Quest since 2015 and has a focus on payments innovation especially in the charity and not-for-profit space.  She leverages more than 30 years’ experience in the payments’ arena.