Face-to-face fundraising using contactless card machines raised three times more money than cash collections alone, the NSPCC has found.
The charity, alongside 10 others, partnered with Barclaycard for a four-month trial from September, which involved the organisations testing out a total of 100 collection units designed to receive card payments as well notes and coins. The boxes were used in a variety of ways by the different charities, from collections at special events to being placed by the till in charity shops.
The card machines were programmed to automatically take £2 when a contactless card was scanned, but could be adjusted to take payments up to the contactless limit of £30 and larger amounts using chip and pin.
Over the four months, the NSPCC said, it received an average of £3.07 through contactless donations, while its average cash donation for December was just £1. It also received a one-off donation of £1,000 during the trial using the chip-and-pin system.
Barnardo’s, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Cats Protection, the Design Museum and Oxfam were also involved in the trial, plus Prostate Cancer UK, the RNIB, the RNLI, the Royal British Legion and the Science Museum.
In total, the charities raised £20,000 using the machines, including the £1,000 donation made to the NSPCC.
The NSPCC said it would continue to use the devices because of the success of the trial.
Megan Johnston, senior fundraiser at the NSPCC, said the charity had been keen to adapt to the rise of cashless payments.
She said: "The feedback we received from the public was overwhelmingly positive. Previously, many people have said they would like to donate even though they no longer carry cash, so it was great to offer a cashless giving alternative."
Barclaycard estimates that charities are missing out on up to £80m a year by not accepting card donations. The figure is based on its research, which it says suggests that about 15 per cent of people have walked away from donation opportunities on multiple occasions because they had no cash on them, when they would otherwise have given, on average, £2.48.
Payments UK, the trade association for the payments industry, predicts that cash, which accounted for 45 per cent of all payments in 2015, will drop to just 27 per cent of payments by 2025.
Chris Allwood, head of product development at the Charities Aid Foundation, which advised on the trial, said: "People in the UK donate about £10bn to charity every year. However, a rapidly growing number of them can no longer make donations on the street when they feel inspired to do so because they have stopped carrying cash. This makes it vital that charities are able to accept payment by debit and credit card."
Charities have been exploring contactless donations for a number of years. The Royal British Legion became the first UK charity to use contactless technology on London Poppy Day in October 2012; in 2015, Comic Relief used contactless on statues of celebrities; and in May 2016 the Blue Cross attached contactless card machines to the dogs at its awareness-raising events.
But not all contactless schemes have been successful. The Penny for London scheme set up by former London Mayor Boris Johnson, which encouraged Londoners to donate a penny to good causes every time they used an Oyster card to travel, closed in August after raising just £3,000 of its £25m target.