Blog Post

Snapdonate app uses logo recognition to make charitable giving easier over mobile

This is a simple idea but a nice one: a new British nonprofit called Snapdonate is giving charities a fairly straightforward way to take donations through a “magic lens” app that recognizes the charities’ logos.

It’s no surprise to see this come out of the U.K., where mobile payments are taking off and people are these days carrying less cash with them. As charities get a sixth of their donations in cash (according to Charities Aid Foundation and Payment Council stats cited by Snapdonate), this shift could make for reduced takings by fundraisers.

Users just take a shot of a charity’s logo and say how much they want to donate. The app works offline, which will help those whose heartstrings are tugged by a poster on a Tube train, for example. The app – available for Android now and iOS soon – is linked to the JustGiving fundraising platform (which takes a small fee). SnapDonate itself doesn’t take any fees. It also doesn’t show ads, nor does it store donors’ personal information.

The attractive thing about this app is that it doesn’t require QR codes or special websites or any particular effort on the charity’s part, other than to tell Snapdonate it wants to participate. According to co-founder Robin Dhara, major charities such as Shelter, Cancer Research UK and Save The Children are already on board.

The app is being funded by the BoldRocket “people technology” arm of financial services consultancy Capco, which employs co-founder Mark Warrick. “Once they found out what he had been up to in his spare time, they offered him the resources to develop Snapdonate properly. He then hired some engineers to develop this into a stronger product,” Dhara said, explaining that for now the project has enough funding to keep offering the service to charities for free.