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RFID Bolsters Charity Event

Poverty-fighting organization Tipping Point Community collected about $15 million with Connect&Go NFC RFID technology wristbands, enabling guests to raise their hands and make a pledge without requiring credit cards or pen and paper.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 25, 2018

Nonprofit anti-poverty group Tipping Point Community raised approximately $15 million at an event this summer that featured an RFID system to ease the process of making contributions. This year's event was the third that has employed a Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID system from Connect&Go, and the charity says the ease of contributing, thanks to the RFID system, has helped keep the figures high. Nearly all of those contributions took place within a matter of minutes, when individuals wearing RFID-enabled wristbands simply raised their hands. Personnel then scanned the wristbands and the pledges were recorded and displayed on a screen.

Formed in 2005, Tipping Point Community is a grant-making organization that targets poverty in the San Francisco Bay area. The group has committed to cutting the area's chronic homelessness in half by 2022, in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco. Last year, the group raised $20 million in donor gifts, all of which goes out as grants. The bulk of the contributions arrived on a single day while the charity held its annual benefit.

Charitable giving often depends on emotion, says Jim Hugo, Tipping Point Community's director of events, and requiring credit cards or the inputting of data can interfere with that process. "At Tipping Point Community," he explains, "we believe emotional storytelling is a strong lever for inspiring our audience to get involved in the fight against poverty."

Tipping Point Community's Jim Hugo
When speakers tell their stories at the charitable event, the goal is to inspire guests to give. "These stories can often move guests to tears—both out of sadness and, more importantly, out of triumph," Hugo says. "So when the time comes to ask for guests to contribute, we do not want to pull them out of the powerful emotions they are feeling."

Traditionally, pledging was carried out manually, on paper, with volunteers recording the ID number of each individual making a pledge, along with the amount being given. The group wanted something that would make the process easier for volunteers working at the event, as well as offer a real-time understanding of how much pledging was taking place—and how much was still needed to reach specific goals. Then there was the emotional component, from the guests' perspectives. Worrying about how to use a device, who to make a check out to, or if they had entered their credit card number correctly could quickly jolt them away from that moment, Hugo notes.

Connect&Go offers experiential solutions using RFID technology, as well as payment and access-control solutions, leveraging NFC RFID technology to make a transaction automatic. For experiential systems, customers often bring a unique challenge to the technology company, according to Sara El Bain, Connect&Go's sales director. "Usually," she says, "the client comes to us with an objective, and we offer a solution that fits their specific needs."

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