GLAM launches contactless donations

The Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) have launched a scheme to support contactless donations at their six sites. Freestanding kiosks that allow visitors to ‘tap to give’ £5 have been installed at the four museums, the Weston Library and Harcourt Arboretum. 


The scheme is a six-month trial to help determine whether visitors prefer this type of technology over traditional donation boxes, and to assess how this technology can help encourage greater visitor support for GLAM’s work and activities. 


The trial uses fixed-point terminals provided by GW Devices. Visitors simply tap their contactless debit or credit card for a smooth and seamless transaction. The donation amount is being kept to a single option of £5 for the duration of the trial in order to simplify processing and provide benchmarking data to help support testing of the positioning and messaging on the terminal screen and surrounding plinths. 


External view of Old Bodleian Library


The introduction of contactless donation technology reflects changing payment habits in the UK. 2016 was the first year in the UK in which more payments were made by card than with cash, and contactless is fast becoming the preferred method for payments under £20. Eight out of ten debit cards and six out of ten credit cards are now contactless. 


Across the cultural and charitable sectors, contactless is now offering a valuable secondary method of support alongside more established mechanisms, such as regular giving through Direct Debit. Numerous charities, including Cancer Research UK, have experimented with 'contactless shop windows' (link to video) and 'smart benches' in town centres, while the Church of England has reported positively on trials with contactless payment devices. 


However, while contactless is very popular in the UK, it isn’t the same story everywhere. In the US, for example, mobile phone payments are gaining more traction than contactless cards, and tourists still often prefer to carry cash in local currency to avoid charges. GLAM receives a lot of international visitors so it will be interesting to see how take-up of the scheme might vary among different audience segments and how it will fare alongside traditional donation mechanisms.