Cashless donations should be made easier

As I was walking to the MRT station one evening, a volunteer for a charity approached me to try to convince me to be a regular donor.

When I declined and offered to make a one-time cash donation, I was told that one-time donations could be made only with a credit card.

While I understand the rationale behind e-donations, I did not realise I had a rather complex form to fill. Upon closer inspection of the form, a few observations stood out.

First, there was a "partial processing fee" of 80 cents to be deducted together with the amount I pledged to donate.

Second, there were three numerical options under the donation amounts: $100, $200 and $300, and a fourth for "Others".

Third, I had to provide my personal particulars, including my identity card number.

There was the usual privacy and confidentiality clause regarding the use of information and privacy protection, but there was no option for me to decline being contacted by the charity in future.

This may simply be an oversight.

But in this digital age, where personal information can often be compromised, data privacy should be given greater importance.

The partial processing fee of 80 cents is puzzling. Is it right to charge someone a fee of 80 cents for making a donation, regardless of the donation amount?

On a donation of $100, this would mean a 0.8 per cent fee. If the donation were $10, this would be a staggering 8 per cent. If a fee needs to be collected, it should be pegged to a percentage of the donation.

More importantly, should donors be charged for their goodwill? Should they shoulder the additional cost in processing fees, just because cash collection is not allowed?

Then, there is the issue of the donation amount.

By setting the lowest option at $100, it subconsciously caused me to set my expectation, and I felt pressured to give at least $100.

Should the donation amount not be decided entirely by the donor - free of coercion, however subtle?

When compared with traditional flag days, the whole donation process was rather stressful.

I wonder if there is a more transparent way to campaign and raise funds for charities.

Chia Chong Ming

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Cashless donations should be made easier'. Print Edition | Subscribe