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No cash for the Salvation Army's red kettle? Use your phone to donate

Ellen Abbott

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is an iconic holiday sight every year. This year, the agency is trying to keep the campaign relevant by adding some new technology options for giving.

The dollars and coins tossed into giant red kettles throughout the holiday season fund much of the  yearly budget for the Salvation Army. But with fewer people carrying cash these days, the non-profit has turned to technology to make sure these potential donations aren’t lost.

Smart chips and QR codes have been attached to every kettle as part of “Kettle Pay,” allowing people to use Apple Pay or Google Pay on their mobile phones to make a donation.

"You can use it with our NFC tag, which essentially means you bump your phone against a sticker and screen will come up that will ask you how much you want to donate," said Salvation Army Empire State Division spokesman Jeremy Miller.

This program was tested out last year and expanded to the entire country this holiday season.  And Miller said no matter where you bump a kettle, your local unit will get the donation.

"It links to the credit card that you have on your phone," Miller said. "So if you use Apple Pay or Google Pay, it links to that credit card and the zip code associated with that credit card. So wherever your zip code is, that’s how we know where we’re going to send your donation."

The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign is one of the oldest and largest charitable campaigns in the country, raising funds for those in poverty.