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Would you give to charity when you draw out cash?

Soon you’ll be able to donate to charity from thousands of cash machines across the UK. The government wants to make charitable giving a ‘social norm’, but will it tempt you to part with your hard-earned cash?

This week, the government announced that over 12,000 cash machines across the UK will soon allow people to make charitable donations at the touch of a few buttons.

ATMs run by Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, as well as those owned by independent cashpoint operator Bank Machine, will join HSBC in letting you give to worthy causes.

Later on in the year, the new cashpoint donation system will be rolled out across the 64,000 ATMs that fall under the Link network. So no matter where you go, you’ll always have the opportunity to give a little.

Under the scheme, you’ll be able to donate anything between a quid and £250 to one of eight charities selected by the banks. Interestingly, the scheme is based on one introduced by Servibanca in Colombia in 1998.

One crucial flaw

However, this isn’t really a revelation in the UK. HSBC already allows its customers to donate to charity through its ATMs – over 3,600 of them across the British Isles. In fact, just over £340,000 was donated in 2010.

The key advantage of HSBC’s scheme is that charities can claim Gift Aid on any donations, meaning that for every donation made, the charity can claim back the basic rate of income tax (20%) that you’ve already paid on that money. For example, on a £10 donation Gift Aid would earn the charity an extra £2.50.

However, the government’s new cashpoint scheme will not be set up to allow Gift Aid payments. If you consider that the charities involved in HSBC’s scheme received over £340,000 in 2010, a significant portion of that total would have come from Gift Aid payments.

Give while you get?

I like the concept of giving while you get, but is this really going to work? What if you don’t want to donate to any of the charities that are offered by the cashpoint? And why will only eight benefit in this way – there are thousands of causes out there in desperate need of funds.

And frankly, I’ve never used any of the other features on a cashpoint, like topping up my mobile or printing off statements. So will I be drawn to the charity button when all I want to do is make a quick withdrawal? Somehow I don’t think so.

Do you think you’ll be tempted to donate to charity while drawing out your cash? Or if you’re an HSBC customer, did you know this option was already available?

Would you use a cash machine to donate to charity?

No - cashpoints are for taking cash out (85%, 172 Votes)

Yes - I think it's a good idea (8%, 17 Votes)

I'm not sure (6%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 202

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Maybe – when I give to charity it tends to be considered, at least for a few moments, often more. Often at the cash machine I like to just take the money and go as fast as I can!

Maybe if there was nobody around I might spend some time browsing all the options!


I think the government should be looking at the fees some ATM operators levy on their customers and use some of that money to donate to charities.

Sophie Gilbert says:
11 May 2012

I have no intention of giving money to charity through ATMs (I already give in a different way and like Chris I want to take the money and go a fast as I can), but I agree with your question, Gareth, why will only eight charities (*) benefit in this way? One way round that could be to have a rota system and change the eight regularly and sufficiently frequently to benefit the greatest number possible, including customising local ATMs to sometimes benefit local charities.

(* I can even guess who they are already)


I will continue to support the charities that I wish to support, and make use of Gift Aid. Like Chris and Sophie, I don’t want to spend any longer than necessary at an ATM.

Dunc Wooster says:
11 May 2012

It sounds a great idea and a quick and easy way to give a little money to charities.
I imagine it would preserve the donor’s anonymity, and avoids the probem of charities knowing your contact details and selling them on or bombarding you with endless begging letters.

But the implementation is flawed.
It needs to offer the gift aid option.
It needs to let each customer choose from their own list of preferred charities.
Without these facilities I’d be unlikely to use it.

Fiona says:
11 May 2012

I actually work for a local charity and would like to know how this system works from the other side, i.e. how does one sign up a registered ‘local’ charity to the ATM system. We also bank with HSBC and I myself am a personal customer of the same bank – it’s interesting that we have never received information from HSBC about this system.

Richard says:
11 May 2012

I too am an HSBC customer and had no idea this option existed. I doulbt I would use the scheme because I choose the charities I support and wouldn’t want to be constrained by a list that popped up on an ATM. If some charities do benefit from it, then fine, as long as there is an open process for charities to be selected.


I’m in agreement with many of the commenters on this post – we all have charities we’d prefer to support. If we can’t make donations to those specific charities via cashpoints, I think people are much less likely to donate.

I’m also embarrassed to admit that, as an HSBC customer myself, I had no idea this option was available at cash machines. Like many people, I want to grab cash and run as quickly as possible, so I don’t spend long exploring the alternative options at the machine.

David says:
11 May 2012

I would never donate this way. I choose the charities I donate to myself according to my own criteria and I don’t knee jerk to appeals. .. ……… and frankly I would be doubtful of any charity chosen according to bankers’ criteria. Clearly small and local charities would miss out.