As of Wednesday, the last day of the local kettle fundraising drive, Salvation Army Glendale was on track to meet, if not exceed, its $75,000 fundraising, but only $25 of that came from credit card donations, Ray said.
“I think people aren’t used to giving to the kettle in the form of a credit card transaction,” he added.
While the vast majority of the annual fundraising is gathered with a few dollars or coins, Salvation Army officials said Wednesday that they would not be deterred. Next year, the Southern California division, which includes Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Orange counties, plans to expand the number of credit card devices in the field, spokesman Robert Brennan said.
“This is such a new thing that we’re trying, and late in the season,” he said. “I think over time, people are going to get more comfortable with it.”
If the credit card devices gain traction, it could mean more per capita donations for the nonprofit. There was already anecdotal evidence that people who use the wireless devices give more than their cash-giving counterparts, officials said.
A man in Union Station put $150 on his card, Brennan said. A similar gift almost went through at the Americana, but the wireless signal was lost before the transaction could be completed, Ray said.
Instead, the donor gave $2 in cash, he added.
“I really believe that [the machines] are the future,” Ray said as he and a volunteer set up a station outside the Nordstrom cosmetics section in the Glendale Galleria.
The device hardly drew a glance from the occasional donor.
At a tin kettle set up at the Central Avenue crosswalk between the Americana and Glendale Galleria, the high amount of foot traffic drew steady donations.
Alissa Gavanian, who dropped a few dollars in the kettle, said she’d welcome a credit machine at all the kettles. These days, she carries very little cash.
“And most people I know don’t either,” she said.
It’s people like Gavanian the Salvation Army will be looking to capture when it expands the pilot program next year, Brennan said.
But that’s not to say that the red tin kettles so closely associated with the Salvation Army are on the out, he added.
“It’s a brand almost for us, so we’re always going to have kettles out there,” he said.