Trick-or-treating goes mobile

Research | October 28, 2011

Unicef’s little orange collection boxes are almost as synonymous with trick-or-treaters as the pillow cases and plastic pumpkins that kids use to hold their coveted candy. They’ve been used to collect change at doorsteps for 61 years, which has added up to about $164 million over five decades.

The days of dropping pennies in the box may be limited. The iconic boxes will have a new feature this year – a Microsoft Tag that people can scan to make a donation through their smartphone.

There’s no doubt technology is changing the way people donate to charity, and will continue to do so. In fact, Chimp is part of the evolution. But there are instances where technology can complicate the process rather than simplify it.

People have to download an app, scan the code on each kid’s Unicef box, enter their phone number and respond to a text every time. No one is likely to bother donating the equivalent of a few quarters and dimes through their phone, so amounts may be higher for the effort. But if someone went with the mobile app and donated $5 for each kid with a box, that could add up quickly. And how will the kids feel about it? Carrying around a collection box that doesn’t actually collect anything isn’t that much fun. There’s satisfaction in hearing the coins drop, rattling them around and counting it up.

When the Halloween kids come knocking, what will you do: stick with spare change or change with the times?

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