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Red kettles go high-tech: Salvation Army to accept mobile payments

Salvation Army red kettles this year will accept

Salvation Army red kettles this year will accept Apple Pay and Google Pay, allowing people to donate with a tap of their smartphones. Credit: TNS/Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

Mobile pay technology is coming to the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign.

In an effort to expand its reach to people who don’t carry cash, donors this year will be able to use Apple Pay or Google Pay.

The kettles will have NFC (near field communication) tags that allow users to tap their devices to make a donation, Stephen M. Ditmer, director of integrated marketing for the Salvation Army of Greater New York, said Monday. 

People with older phones can scan a QR code on the kettles to go to a donation form through their browser, he said.

The funds will be distributed to local Salvation Army units based on the donor’s billing ZIP code, and an email receipt will be sent directly to their phone, the organization said in a release.

Red kettle bell ringers will continue to accept cash as well.

Scott Justvig, executive director of development and communications for the Salvation Army's Metropolitan Division, which includes 13 counties surrounding Chicago, said he hopes that enabling mobile donations will motivate younger generations to contribute to the holiday campaign.

About 70% of all the money the Salvation Army collects for the year comes during the holiday season, said Jackie Rachev, metropolitan division spokeswoman.

Adoption of the technology comes as Americans pivot away from using cash. In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, about 29% of respondents said they made a purchase without cash in a typical week, up from 24% in 2015.

The Salvation Army tested the cashless option last year in Kansas City, New York, Dallas and Seattle. 

-- with Newsday staff 

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