No cash? Salvation Army now accepts red kettle donations from your smartphone

Try this convenient new spin on a classic way of donating to our community this holiday season

When you think of the holidays, what do you imagine?

Whether it’s warm family gatherings, sharing a meal with the people you love or getting in the Christmas spirit by decorating, buying gifts or giving to others in need, it’s safe to say that there aren’t many wrong answers when it comes to holiday imagery or all ways you can get in the spirit.

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'Tis the season for giving

Let’s stop and talk about that last item in particular: Giving to others in need. It’s an important one, especially this time of year.

Speaking of mental imagery again, raise your hand if you can picture this scene: You’re outside a mall or a bustling grocery store and you spot a smiling bell-ringer standing not far from a bright red kettle, serving up well-wishes as most people drop a few dollars into the container. It’s a Salvation Army red kettle, of course, and it seems like they’re everywhere around the holidays.

In fact, this year marks the 129th red kettle campaign.

Your parents probably dropped money inside when you were little and taught you to do the same. If you’re old enough, perhaps you even tell your children about how they’ll follow suit someday.

‘Kettles for the Future’

But well, it’s 2019 -- almost 2020! -- and if you’ve ever found yourself passing a kettle only to realize you don’t have any cash on hand, you’re likely not alone.

This season, the Salvation Army has a solution for you. It’s called Kettle Pay, and it’s just about as easy as fishing around in your pocket for an extra $5 or $10. “Kettles for the Future” is what some are calling the campaign, because that’s what it feels like. We do almost everything from our phones these days. So, why not this?

Kettle Pay, or Kettles for the Future, is a program that puts a Near Field Communication tag, which contains a microchip, on every kettle in the United States, so that you can donate with your smartphone. The system, which basically uses QR codes, has been tested in four markets and it’s ready to go.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you see a kettle and feel inclined to donate, get out your phone and physically tap it to the tag. You’ll recognize what to look for.
Here's a look at how it will look. (The Salvation Army)
  • You’ll then be taken to a custom donation form on your phone. It will suggest giving $5, $10 or $25, or you can type in a different amount.
  • From here, you can donate using Apple Pay or Google Pay if one or both of those are set up on your device. Otherwise, you can enter your credit or debit card.
  • People whose phones aren’t compatible with contactless payment systems can use their camera to photograph a QR code, opening a similar donation form.

It’s the same red kettle and the same Salvation Army we’ve all grown up with -- just on your smartphone. Kettles for the Future basically makes donating to the Salvation Army easier and more convenient than ever when you consider this new, digital option.

And the need is certainly there.

Why give?

The Salvation Army says nearly 40 million Americans struggle with poverty.

With that in mind, the organization wants to challenge 1,000 individuals, groups, businesses, you name it -- to adopt a virtual kettle, with the goal of raising $500 this season.

When all is said and done, the Salvation Army has its sights set on a total of $500,000.

Can you help?

The money raised through Kettle Pay will be distributed to local units based on a donor’s billing ZIP code. Previously, there was no method in place to track how much was raised at a single kettle, so this presents an opportunity to solve that problem. Plus, the donations stay local.

The nonprofit organization is working to raise funds this holiday season to help those in our Central Florida community.

Now introducing Kettle Pay. (The Salvation Army)

If you go online, you can even designate your donation or specify how you’d like your contribution can help someone in need.

For example:

  • $25 can help provide Christmas presents to a child in need.
  • $60 buys two nights of shelter for people experiencing homelessness in our community.
  • $100 can help provide 42 meals for the hungry.

If you’d rather go another similar route, click or tap Become a Fundraiser and follow the prompts to start fundraising today for The Salvation Army of Orange and Osceola County.

To find out more about the kettles or the organization, click or tap here.

These donations will help run year-round services including resources to help fight addiction, providing shelter, helping disaster survivors and combating hunger. By investing in the community with local programs, the Salvation Army strives to build a stronger community -- and your support can really make an impact.