Charities struggling with plunging donations from cash-based street appeals are pinning their hopes on a new "Easy Giving" app for mobile phones.
Surf Lifesaving NZ, one of 17 charities to sign up so far, said the new app could help reverse a 90 per cent decline in revenue from street appeals because people no longer carried cash.
"Our street appeal is very low now," said its fundraising executive Matt Warren. "It's gone from a $500,000 exercise down to probably $50,000 over about a five- or six-year period."
He said the organisation had now abandoned its national street appeal, although some surf clubs still ran appeals in areas where they had support from shopping malls or community events.
Auckland City Mission fundraising manager Alexis Sawyers said her annual Christmas street appeal had shrunk from about $50,000 10 to 15 years ago to $15,000 last Christmas.
"We do get people saying I'd love to give to you but I've got no money [cash]," she said.
"With this one [Easy Giving] we thought who it might appeal to is probably a younger demographic that don't think to donate to us in other ways but are really into apps."
She said the mission would keep running its street appeal too.
"A street appeal is beneficial for different reasons. One of them is that it reminds people that our wider Christmas appeal is on," she said.
"Even if they don't have cash, they remember, 'Oh, I haven't made my annual donation to the City Mission yet'."
WooHoo founder Cilla Hegarty said she hoped that people would use the app to donate when they heard about a charity in the media or on the street.
"This means if you have your phone in your pocket and someone is standing there with a bucket, you can pull out your phone and make the donation," she said.
The app is free to download and charities can also sign up for free. However WooHoo will charge 5 per cent out of every donation to cover its costs and credit card companies will charge a further 2 per cent, leaving 93 per cent of each donation going to the charities.
Ms Sawyers said the fees were reasonable.
"There is a small service fee associated with it, but that is no different to an online transaction," she said.
Ms Hegarty said the app could be used by any of the 20,000 "donee organisations" registered with Inland Revenue, including schools.
"There is no limit, but we will need a really good search function if we get a lot," she said.
A tax rebate of 33.3 per cent is available for all donations to registered donee organisations [http://www.ird.govt.nz/donee-organisations/] if receipts are provided.
Details are at: http://www.ird.govt.nz/income-tax-individual/tax-credits/dch-taxcredits/iit-dch-taxcredits.html