Ding,Ding Debit? Changes at the Salvation Army Include iPhone apps, Online Donations and Facebook Widgets

A debit card machine at a Salvation Army bell station? No, you haven’t hit the eggnog too early. It’s part of a growing number of changes at the organization including an iPhone app that allows users to choose bell tones. salvation_army_charity_2And if standing on your feet ringing a bell isn’t your thing, you can host an online Red Kettle campaign that allows you to set a goal and invite friends via email to donate online and includes both blog and Facebook widgets.

This isn’t your great-grandmother’s Salvation Army anymore. No, these Christian soldiers are technically savvy, “If we don’t continue to look forward,” said Patrick Patey, a spokesman for the Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command, “our cash opportunities diminish.” With donations down across the country and continued community need for basic items like food and clothing on the rise, charitable organizations are trying to find innovative ways to meet the public in their pocket book. “The Salvation Army is dependent on the generosity of the public,” said Patey whose organization introduced debit/credit card machines at select bell stations. “We had 12 of them last year as a test,” locally said Patey. The organization tested the new machines in Dallas and Colorado Springs last year. They’ll test the machines in 30 more cities this year. (Read more at www.chicktalkdallas.com/blog)

Locally, the number of machine stations  increased to 82 across five counties including Dallas and Tarrant counties. The average cash donation is between $1 and $2. The average debit/credit card transaction is $14. The Salvation Army bell ringers are still there but donors are given a hand held device to enter in their donation and PIN number. The “lion’s share” of Christmas donations in the DFW area–$2.4 million last year– still come in cash but the machine transactions certainly help the bottom line. It’s not yet clear how much the machine transactions help but coordinators in Colorado Springs reported $5,000 of the $64,000 increase they saw in donations last year came from credit or debit cards the Associated Press reported.

So what’ll happen to those bell ringers? What will Christmas be with out the ding-ding-ding? Relax, said Patey. The bell ringers are here to stay, “In a lot of ways it’s part of the sights and sounds of Christmas.” But as time goes on, there’s a possibility we’ll see fewer ringers. “The Kettle Campaign in some form or fashion has been around since 1892,” said Patey. And the Salvation Army is committed to the Red Kettle spirit. Don’t forget to donate in person, online, through your iPhone or with your debit card this Christmas season. Ding-Ding-Ding!

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