Salvation Army Santas Will Gladly Accept Your Credit Cards This Holiday Season

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The Times reports that for the first time ever, the Salvation Army bell-ringers that stand outside of your local mall each year will be accepting more than just loose change — they'll swipe your credit card right on the spot. As the number of people who actually carry cash on them shrinks each year, the Salvation has realized we are living in a digital world and will arm their ringers at 10 locations with Square, a device that connects to an iPhone or Android phone and processes credit cards immediately:

The Salvation Army plans to put Square to use at 10 locations each in Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Bell ringers will carry Android smartphones donated by Sprint Nextel that are equipped with Square's postage-stamp-size card reader and two apps, one from Square and one from the Salvation Army. Donors swipe a card, just as they would at any credit card processing terminal, and the money goes into the Salvation Army's account.


According to the Times, greater use of said credit card readers will help to reduce the amount of theft within the non-profit, which often happens when small amounts of cash are collected within a charity. What's next? Girl Scouts selling cookies door to door and running your credit card as soon as you decide on the Mint Chocolate Chip variety? Apparently so:

Other nonprofit groups and individual fund-raisers have used it too. A Girl Scout troop in Silicon Valley, for instance, used it earlier this year to sell some 400 boxes of cookies at Facebook's headquarters after the father of one troop member who worked there realized that many of his colleagues did not carry cash.

One slight disadvantage to the credit card system is time. It takes only a few seconds to dig around in your pocket and throw into a bucket, and it takes at least a minute or two more to take out your credit card and swipe it. But who knows — 'tis the season to be charitable, after all.

Bell Ringers Go Digital This Season [NYT]

Image from Rob Byron/Shutterstock.



Salvation Army's anti-gay stance means they get nothing from me. In the past, I've printed up little cards to leave in their buckets that tell them that their homophobia is the reason they get nothing.