Give to charity at the cash machine

cash point

People could give to charity every time they use their bank cards at cash machines and the shops, under government proposals announced in its recent 'Giving' green paper.

It found that 31% of donors give spontaneously simply because they 'felt like giving' and being able to make impromptu donations would therefore make it easier to give.

"We want banks and ATM providers to let us know how we might make this happen in the UK and whether there are ways we can facilitate this," the paper says.

It cites the Colombian model, which, since 1998, allows customers to make a donation every time they withdraw money from an ATM with Servibank. There is now a network of 500 machines with about 100,000 donations a month, averaging $1 a time with a choice of three charities to choose from.

The consultation lasts until 9 March and Francis Maude, minister for the cabinet office will look to speak to banks in the new year about how to put these ideas into action. The Link ATM network already allows cardholders to top up their mobile phone and receive utility bill statements and the Payments Council sees no reason why a similar scheme to the Colombian one couldn't be into place.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5live, Maude said based on everyone giving an average 1% of their income in this way, an extra £4 billion worth of giving would be generated.

"For some things there's an absolute social norm that if you go to a restaurant you expect to tip somewhere probably between 10% and 15% and that's kind of an understanding. There's no similar understanding with charitable giving."

Maude stresses however, that the proposed plans are not meant to "compel" people into donating but rather to encourage them, in line with the government's 'big society' plans. 

The cabinet minister also wants to meet with retailers to see if there are more ways to encourage their customers to give charitably through their card use. EasyJet for example invites customers to donate to a carbon offsetting charity.

The paper is also calling for a national "round-up-the-pound" scheme, which would allow people to donate their change when paying by debit or credit card. The scheme is already run by charity the Pennies Foundation and with first UK retail partner Domino's Pizza, the 'electronic charity box' has raised £20,000 for charities in six weeks.

John Low, chief executive for the Charities Aid Foundation, welcomes the green paper's ideas as a way to kick start new initiatives as well as build on old ones but he adds: "There is more that could be done to make it easier to take advantage of tax incentives including reforming the gift aid system, improving access to 'Give as You Earn' and encouraging all types of tax effective giving."