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A Salvation Army “electronic kettle,” involving a creative application of wireless credit card technology, resulted in additional donations for The Salvation Army in Pittsburgh over this past holiday season.
During the two weeks before Christmas, PNC Bank of Pittsburgh donated the use of a Hypercom point-of-sale terminal to the Greater Pittsburgh Salvation Army to help with it annual Christmas season fund raising.
“When the Army asked what we could do to make the electronic kettle possible, we were delighted to contribute the wireless credit acceptance equipment and arrange for its use through PNC Merchant Services”, according to Craig T. Campbell, Executive Vice President of PNC Bank, who is also a member of The Greater Pittsburgh Salvation Army Advisory Board. The bank provided a Hypercom T7PRC POS terminal and also donated all processing-related expenses.
“We need to reach out to the computer generation,” explained Allegheny County Coordinator Major Donald Hostetler. “Many of our loyal donors are elderly. They know from experience that The Salvation Army has done for the community. However, we need to make special efforts to educate and cultivate the 20- to 30-year-old market who are more acclimated to computer technology.”
The Salvation Army unveiled the electronic kettle at the Fifth Avenue Place Shopping Arcade and publicized its “appearance schedule” throughout the Pittsburgh area during the shopping season. The T7PRC needs no phone connections and can operate on batteries or a mobile power supply so it can set up virtually anywhere — just the same as a traditional Salvation Army kettle.
“The media were quite taken with the idea,” said Ginny Knor, Divisional PR Director for the Salvation Army. “We got very good newspaper, radio and TV coverage, all of which was beneficial for all concerned.”
Knor said the combination of the media coverage and the novelty of an electronic kettle roughly doubled the per-hour contributions wherever it was set up. In addition to enabling credit card donations (which tend to be larger than cash gifts), “we also put a traditional kettle nearby. Those collections also showed a jump primarily because of the attention the electronic kettle attracted.” Knor said that throughout the Western Pennsylvania Division of The Salvation Army, contributions were up 11 percent over last year.
The Hypercom T7PRC terminal uses Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) technology, which transmits short bursts or “packets” of data over a cellular telephone network. The terminal’s 35-key keyboard, 2-by-20 back-lit LCD and integrated printer provide full functionality within a small footprint. When donors swiped their cards through the terminal, the transaction was routed through PNC’s Merchant Services network and an approval message returned to the terminal within five seconds. The terminal then printed out a receipt, which the donor could use as proof of the charitable contribution.
The Salvation Army continues to solicit loose change and folding money with the traditional kettles, but sees benefits in the new electronic kettle. “We hope to try it again during National Salvation Army Week in May,” Knor said.
Hypercom Corporation is a leading supplier of point-of-sale (POS) payment systems, enterprise networking solutions and client/server software. Phoenix, AZ-based Hypercom markets its products in more than 50 countries worldwide. Hypercom Corporation consists of four divisions Hypercom POS US/Canada, Hypercom International, Hypercom Network Systems and Hypercom Manufacturing Resources. Hypercom’s common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “HYC”.