Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why We're Switching to iPads

What you might notice over the coming weeks and months on the street, at your door step and in shopping centres are more and more fundraisers carrying iPads. We are moving away from paper Direct Debit forms and, in stages, kitting out every one of our chuggers with a brand spanking new iPad.

Now presumably it's only a matter of time before someone with a platform vocalises their objections to this 'waste of charity money' and so I thought it would be a good idea to explain the thinking behind this move in advance so as to reduce these opinion pieces and so that we can all mock anyone that makes this claim, knowing that they haven't done their research and they certainly haven't asked us why we switched.

We would not be doing this unless it made financial sense to Total Fundraising and to the charities we represent.

There are many, many advantages to using iPads and electronic sign-ups over paper sign-ups. These include:

While there is an up-front cost (huge up-front cost) in purchasing 80+ iPads and developing the sign-up and back-end software, there are long-term savings made to both Total Fundraising and the charities involved (just to be clear the iPad campaigns aren't going to cost charities anything extra - it will only save them money).

  • Most obviously, we no longer need to pay to print triplicate carbon copy mandate forms, a number of which are cancelled, voided and 'soiled' during each campaign. These cost us about €1 per mandate and when signing up 30-50,000 mandates a year this is a substantial saving.
  • We save on printing and laminating the 'presenters' that our fundraisers carry, as well as the A4 folders themselves. Instead, the photos and statistics our chuggers refer to are now displayed on the iPads themselves.
  • We save on postage. With postage costs rising it is especially pleasing to eliminate the registered posts costs that our roaming teams incur every day.
  • We no longer have to pay a staff member to log these paper batches, to key the donor data and to key the hours and results for wages. It will reduce the workload for our payroll staff, our Donor Care staff (welcome callers) and our data entry staff. Fortunately, the increase in size of the business is compensating for this so we don't need to downsize our workforce.

  • About 12% of the account numbers we receive from new donors are invalid. We validate all account numbers when they reach the office to ensure that we do not provide any invalid accounts to our charity partners and they do not waste any time or money presenting them for direct debit.
    When we discover these 12% of invalids in our offices we then have to put the time and money in to contacting the donor to correct the details. Very often the donors are not contactable.
    By validating the details at the time of sign-up through the iPad we eliminate these invalid accounts. It gives the potential donor the opportunity to doublecheck their account details or to change their mind, and we no longer need to process.
  • The iPads also improve our data capture - we can ensure e-mail addresses and telephone numbers are captured and are captured in the correct format. Fundraisers are prompted to ask for contact preferences and other details that they may have otherwise forgotten about. We can quickly and easily make certain fields compulsory. And we can put automated restrictions on certain donors, such as minimum age limits.

  • We take a huge amount of care with the transport and storage of our paper mandates. Nevertheless, in terms of security it's not ideal. The iPads allow new donor details to be securely sent and stored electronically, instantly, and no personal data is stored on the iPads. If an iPad is lost or stolen there is no issue with data security.
  • Another interesting point to note is that if an iPad does get stolen or lost we can track it through GPS and determine exactly where it is. We can also remotely lock it and remotely wipe it. Very cool.

  • Tracking where the iPad is in real-time is just one level of control this new technology gives us. We can also track sign-ups in real-time and track quality in real-time.
  • We can feed information to the iPad immediately. We can update information and forms on the iPad remotely. For example, if a charity releases new stats today we can update the fundraisers presenters immediately. If we find that not enough e-mail addresses are being captured we can remotely make it a compulsory field, or highlight it so it's not being overlooked.


  • One of my favourite things about the iPads is that the fundraisers and managers can see their stats in real-time. They can see the average age of the donors they sign up, the average gift, how much they have generated for charity between all their donors, and much more. They can see how they compare with their co-workers. This is a highly motivational tool.

Technological Innovation

  • The iPads are going to allow us to do some really awesome stuff: with the donors' permission we can capture photos and video, we can use the GPS to do some cool location stuff, we can link in to websites and social media to update live. There are a lot of possibilities and we plan on exploring all of these with the innovative charities that we work with...

This is going to be really cool. Feel free to chat to the fundraisers to see how it works. While you're at it, why don't you sign up and make the world a better place?

1 comment:

  1. The other thing I wanted to point out is that personally I'm not a fan of Apple stuff! I'm Android all the way. We really wanted to use Android for this, but our requirements meant it made more sense to go with Apple for the moment. Frowny face.