Salvation Army To Accept Credit Cards In Kettles

Do you brush off Salvation Army bell-ringers, saying that you don’t have any cash? In certain cities, you’ll need to find a different excuse. This holiday season, the ubiquitous charity introduces kettles that accept credit cards.

“It used to be people would spend their money at the store counters, walk out and drop their change in the kettles. They don’t shop that way anymore,” said Major Don Gilger, coordinator of the Salvation Army of El Paso County. “We all realize that people are carrying less cash than they did 10 years ago.”

The kettles that take credit don’t look any different. But next to the metal red kettles are wireless card readers that resemble do-it-yourself readers at gas stations. The machines print two receipts, one for the donor and one to drop in the kettle. Salvation Army pays credit-processing fees same as any retailer.

The program worked well in test cities Dallas and Colorado Springs last year, and will roll out in 120 more.

(Photo: qnr)


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  1. daveyk says:

    Did I open the Onion by accident?

  2. whammypower788 says:

    You can also donate online.

  3. lostinlies says:

    I was a ringer for the Salvation Army about 10 years ago..The people that donated most were the elderly , and the stay at home mom and dads.. After like 1pmish is when the people would use the “Sorry don’t have any change ” reasoning..on a side note, that was the most tiring thing to stand outside in the elements for 8-10 hours a day

    • The Marionette says:

      You have to remember that some people actually don’t have change. I just use a debit card and about 90% of the time if I was going to a store I was in a rush to get somewhere else, so I couldn’t go the atm inside and take some cash out to donate. And some ringers aren’t very thankful either when you do donate because I’ve donated quite a few times (i’m 23, so i guess you can throw that age into the statistics) and they’d giving a snarling and sarcastic “Thanks”. If they volunteer to stand out in the cold to take donations then that should be their problem, not someone else.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      That’s the thing. I feel bad when I say I don’t have any change, but I really don’t. I never carry cash! It just seems like a lot of people use that as an excuse, and I always feel like saying, “Please believe me! I’m not a scrooge, I swear!”

    • steveliv says:

      donating is supposed to be an unforced act, so to call someone out just because they didn’t donate specifically in your kettle seems a bit rude. perhaps they didn’t have cash/change, or maybe they can’t spare the money, or maybe they have donated elsewhere.

    • cynical_reincarnation says:

      I noticed the other day, someone next to a kettle, inside, on a chair, sipping a Mountain Dew, not ringing a bell.

      Did not have the same effect…

    • kalaratri says:

      I usually just said that because I don’t feel like launching into a 15 minute rant about how much I dislike the SA’s practices and how I don’t donate to faith based chariites anyway.

  4. summerbee says:

    I don’t think I’d ever use a credit card on one of these. I mean, how EASY would it be for a Salvation Army volunteer with the proper know-how to attach a skimmer?

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      Or worse, some enterprising soul (using that term loosely) who sets up a fake kettle.

      If someone were clever, they’d sell people to buy something like “charity coupons” and you could drop THOSE into the kettles. A kettle full of coupons would be safer for the ringer and the charity could cash in the coupons at a later time. (And if that person also found an equally clever way to pay for all this without gouging either party, well that’d be sweet like sugar, eh?)

  5. BigBoat2 says:

    I cannot donate to the Salvation Army. They are far too homophobic and discriminatory to be worthy of anyone’s charity.

    • bigTrue says:

      This. It’s also why I don’t shop at Whole Foods, eat at Cracker Barrel and berate anyone who enjoys the Twillight books.

      Ok, so the last one would happen even if a percentage of all money generated from that crap went to fund Prop 8 and other anti-rights movements by the Morman church, but hey, at least it’s a legitimate excuse instead of the fact I’m not a 13 yr old girl. :P

      • steveliv says:

        i can understand you boycotting companies who act adverse to your own beliefs. however, berating someone because they read a certain book, that doesn’t make any sense. just because someone reads a book, doesn’t automatically subscribe them to the authors thinking or point of view…

        • bigTrue says:

          It’s the money thing. They are making TONS of cash, and a percentage is directly donated to the Morman church. The Morman church is the reason Prop 8 passed (money spent on anti-rights advertizing got the message out) as well as other anti-rights thoughts they have.

          I wouldn’t like the books anyway, but seeing people who are otherwise nice and fair (and pro-equal rights) spending money on them that then goes directly against their own beliefs is hypocritical and hurtful to loved ones.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            At this point, whatever evidence is circumstantial. There’s no evidence that a certain percentage of the proceeds from the books are deliberately donated to the Mormon church, like somehow it seems that the Mormon church sponsored the books in any way.

            And to suggest that you would oppose books based on the views of the author – well, think of it this way – if you buy Barack Obama’s books, it goes to say that if you are against donating to the Christian church, you should be against buying his books as well because he probably tithes. And for that matter, you should be opposed to donating money to his campaign as well.

      • JennQPublic says:

        May I borrow the Twilight books from a friend and then enjoy them? Or does that mean I hate gay people, too?

      • BytheSea says:

        What about Whole Foods now? I used to work there, I didn’t hear anything about that. Just the hostile take over of every mom and pop tofu hut from New York to Mississippi.

    • petermv says:

      Exactly, which is why I never give to them.

    • dwb says:

      True. There are plenty of other charities whose hearts don’t have limits.

    • kaceetheconsumer says:

      And they fund anti-choice initiatives.

  6. jaydez860 says:

    I have a good excuse:

    “No thanks, your charity can legally discriminate against certain employees therefore you dont get my money”

    The look on the bell-ringer’s face is priceless when I say that.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I have a friend who used to be one of those employees, and I don’t mind letting SA ringers know why I’m not tossing any coins their way.

  7. Julia789 says:

    I refuse to donate to a “charity” that not only discriminates against who they hire, but also discriminates against which poor they will help.Only certain denominations of christians are worthy of the Salvation Army’s help. If you don’t convert, you stop receiving their “compassion.”

    My money will go to our city’s homeless shelter instead, which doesn’t discriminate and has wonderful volunteers.

  8. katia802 says:

    I just tell them sorry, I refuse to donate to any christian based charities.

  9. skinman says:

    The responses to this story warm my heart. I only give to secular charities.

  10. Julia789 says:

    Heheh – good one. ;-)

    It does drive me crazy though, when some so-called “Christian Charities” will only provide services to those who convert. That is not charity, that is a bribe to join or backing someone vulnerable into a corner.

    It reminds me of the nuns who, after that horrible Tsunami, drove trucks of food to starving isolated villages but refused to give food to the starving children who did not sign a paper saying the converted to Christianity.

    Or the “Christian Charities” who, after Hurricane Katrina, only provided relief aide to people who would be baptized.

    That just doesn’t seem very Christian to me… forcing people to convert. Wouldn’t you want people to convert because you’d touched their hearts, and not because you dangled food in front of a starving person’s face and said “You can’t have it unless you accept Jesus?”

    • JennQPublic says:

      South Park had a great episode on this years ago. I believe one of the lines the missionaries used was “Jesus + the Bible = Food!”

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Salvation Army is one of those that I’m not sure I want to donate to. But I would try to help local churches, since they mostly send food to the community, and not back into the congregation. Some of them do that because they have members of the congregation who are needy, so it’s not like I’m donating a can of peas and getting it right back. It’s actually going to people in the neighborhoods.

      • Julia789 says:

        No doubt there are some local churches who do good for the community and don’t discriminate. True acts of charity. :-)

        There are churches who run homeless shelters that do not discriminate, also.

        In the 1950’s my mother and her mother were homeless for five years. Her father left them, took all the money, and ran off with another woman. They slept in countless churches in the South for years. Many wanted them to convert. So they did. They were baptist and catholic and pentacostal, and episcopal – whatever they needed to be in order to get a room for the night. After they had the hang of it, they’d just announce they were whatever religion was necessary at the door. Eventually my grandmother went to secretarial school, one of the chuches sponsored her. Then she finished school and got a job, and they got a modest apartment.

        It was sad how many made them “convert” before offering a pew or office to sleep in, to a mother and small child. Some really helped though, sending her to secretary school so she could get on her feet, most women were housewives then, with no way to earn income.

  11. friday3 says:

    Reasons not to give to them.
    1. Homophobes
    2. Religion
    3. Idiots ringing those damn bells when I want to shop

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I donate to religious charities. It doesn’t bother me at all as long as they’re helping people with open hearts.

  12. Jesse says:

    One nice thing about paying with a credit card is that you will have a receipt to document the donation for taxes if you want to deduct it. Since the beginning of 2008, the IRS has required cash donations to either be backed up by donation receipt from the charity or a canceled check.

    • Julia789 says:

      I think that a canceled check might not be a valid form of receipt any longer. I know the IRS stopped accepting canceled checks for health care reimbursement accounts and dependent care reimbursement accounts. If I remember correctly, they stopped accepting canceled checks for charitable contributions as well.

      They welcome the canceled check as backup documentation, to compliment a receipt, but no longer take it as a “receipt” itself. This is what my benefits company told me, that the IRS changed the rules about a year or so ago.

  13. savdavid says:

    I won’t give a dime to that homophobic organization.

  14. satyrica says:

    I love Salvation Army! Providing charity to anyone – regardless of their “criteria” – is
    charity. So many cynics online….

    • That's Consumer007 to you says:

      That’s just it, they don’t just give to anyone, and you are ignorant on this particular topic.

    • kaceetheconsumer says:

      If all they did was provide charity, that’d be awesome. But they use some of the funds given to them to do things like campaign against female reproductive choice, marriage rights for same-sex couples, etc.

      So for someone like me who spends time and money towards certain social goals, it would be counter-productive for me to give money to a group fighting those goals.

  15. Winteridge2 says:

    and they even accept South African gold coins….