Editorial: There's a way to go on ATM giving

All the banks should enable giving at their cash machines and work through the teething problems, writes Stephen Cook

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

Giving at cash machines took top billing in the "making it easier to give" section of the government's Giving White Paper, published in May 2011, which announced that Link had agreed to facilitate a donations option for the country's 66,000 ATMs. Nearly two years on, as our analysis indicates, there is still some way to go if this is to become a significant strand in charity fundraising.

Link did the technical part in good time and made the system available six months ago. So far, however, only the RBS Group has activated the system on its machines. The other banks are holding back for reasons they decline to explain. Even HSBC, which has offered a donations option to its own customers since 2006, has not integrated the new facility to allow other cardholders to give through its machines.

So far, only a tiny proportion of transactions on the 12,500 RBS Group machines have been donations to charity. Some have been made in error, and only £347,000 has been raised. But ATM giving won't achieve critical mass unless the rest of the operators switch it on, give it some publicity and work through the teething problems. It might never be a huge revenue stream for charities, not least because in its present form the invitation to donate is relatively cold and mechanical, often offered to busy people in a windy street with a queue behind them. But all income is worth having.

To evaluate progress, the Giving White Paper said that ATM operators would be invited to "a round table with the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team and leading voluntary research organisations". It is not clear whether this meeting has happened or what it yielded, but maybe some gentle ministerial arm-twisting would prompt the rest of the banks to do the right thing and join the system.

The white paper also said that the Treasury would investigate how Gift Aid could be applied to ATM donations: there is no news on this either, but presumably it will form part of the forthcoming consultation on digital giving that was announced by the Treasury in last month's Budget.

- Read our analysis

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