Homelessness is spiralling in the UK, and people want to help but are unsure how and no longer carry cash. In partnership with Mayor of London, TAP London has installed 100 contactless giving points across the city, enabling Londoners to give a £3 tap to support local homelessness services.
Homelessness has increased drastically over the past 10 years, rising 165% since 2010. A major factor contributing to this has been cuts in government funding under austerity measures in the UK, meaning services are receiving fewer grants and have been seeking funds from alternative means.
People feel and see the effects of the homelessness crisis but are often unsure how to help. A study that organisers conducted in 2017 found that 4 out of 5 Londoners were unable to name a local homelessness charity, yet they would be ‘very willing’ to donate. As one respondent put it “When I see someone homeless I always make a mental note to find a charity to support - but then I forget and end up doing nothing and feeling bad, then the cycle repeats".
TAP London was started to connect this gap between willing donors and the charities that need their support. By giving a £3 contactless donation, 100% of every donation is divided between 23 nominated charities in the London Homeless Collective (LHC), in support of the Mayor of London’s Winter Giving Appeal. The LHC is a group of charities providing vital frontline services to rough sleepers in the city. TAP London's eye-catching giving points are installed at over 100 locations across the city; on high-streets, in cafes, bars, cinemas, shops, nightclubs, and even City Hall.
This initiative is the first to engage donors purely through contactless; embracing the gradual move towards a cashless society.
The objectives are to:
- Increase funding to services in need
- Make a way for donors to give that is easy and effective
- Create a more connected London; helping people to overcome the apathy and feeling of helplessness experienced by seeing rough sleeping by giving them a small and practical action
Launched over a year ago, the pilot year was highly successful, raising over £150,000 from 50,000 donors, making TAP London one of the most popular crowdfunding campaigns worldwide (in terms of numbers of donors). This funding has provided a huge boost to the Mayor of London’s Winter Giving Appeal; directly funding services for thousands of rough sleepers, including shelter, legal advice and counselling sessions.
There are two parts of the model that are particularly appealing: the first is that the running costs are very low, providing a passive income revenue stream for organisations doing incredible work. TAP London needs very little maintenance and therefore is volunteer-led to keep costs low. Since launch, it has already offset the initial investment of the infrastructure, achieving an ROI of 350% within its first year. The second, is that it empowers community involvement. The giving points are 'hosted' by various venues across the city and participating organisations take pride in fundraising and engaging their clients to donate. One coffee chain has single handedly raised over £15,000. A retailer raised £4,000 in just three days through hosting an event.
Following a review of the pilot, organisers have ambitious expansion plans, their aims are to
- Raise £1 million from over 300k individuals by 2023
- Expand their infrastructure and number of giving points year-on-year, with an addition 25 units having been procured for this year’s campaign
- Continue to help other cities replicate the model; TAP London has given advice and support to other UK cities who are running their own campaigns including Leicester, Peterborough and Oxford.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
This project is the first of its kind. TAP London is the first organisation to have a single focus on contactless giving. This enables them to be highly imaginative with their approach. For example, they have placed a live counter on the site which automatically provides a public update every few minutes with how much is being raised around the city. Furthermore, TAP London are able to have a presence where other charity initiatives have been limited by cash buckets or human resource; e.g. shopping centre windows, or on busy high-streets. The convenience of it is highly appealing, with one donor emailing to say ‘it’s genius, I love it. Every morning when I buy my coffee I give a tap too. It’s just so simple.'
Secondly, the scale of the innovation. By working in partnership and with promotion of the Mayor of London, TAP London is quickly becoming a recognisable and trusted homelessness giving brand; helping it to become part of the fabric of the city.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The innovation has completed its pilot year and organisers are currently undertaking evaluation, while simultaneously continuing and expanding the project due to its initial success.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The collaborators are the Mayor of London rough sleeping team, TAP London and GoodBox.
Mayor of London funded TAP London’s initial infrastructure through a Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund grant. TAP London is a registered charity and managed the project; contributing the concept, know-how and coordination of the project. GoodBox is a tech-for-good startup that is a supplier of the contactless equipment for TAP London.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The 23 charities in the London Homeless Collective have received over £6,500 each since the project began to use as unrestricted funds to use for their own nominated projects. Organisers are currently finishing up the review of the first year and are in the process of receiving case studies.
TAP London works with 'host' organisations such as pubs, cafes, cinemas and shops who take care of the giving points and encourage donations from their clients. The feedback has been immensely positive.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
TAP London have received over £150,000 in contactless donations from over 50,000 individuals who want to help tackle homelessness. This has raised over £6,500 for each charity within the London Homelessness Collective. TAP London are currently collecting case studies from each of these organisations, and will be reporting on the exact impact of the extra funds, and the work undertaken by the organisations in a paper they are releasing in Q1 next year.
TAP London have had immensely positive feedback from the public and hosts involved in the initiative. Including from individuals who used to be homeless, who have told us how much they support the idea and asking how they can be more deeply involved. For the organisers, this is the ultimate validation of the concept.
It’s their aim to raise £1 million by end of 2023, with each beneficiary charity receiving a minimum of £13,000 in public donations annually.
Challenges and Failures
A minor issue is that TAP London have had three units vandalised. Going forward, they have ensured that in window locations organisers place the advertising vinyl on the inside of the window.
Conditions for Success
Although a simple concept, homelessness is a highly political topic and it is essential to protect government reputation that all stakeholders are clear on their roles and that there are boundaries of the partnership.
Clear documentation of the responsibilities of each party is required. In this case, a Memorandum of Understanding and contract was signed between the two parties ensuring clarity. As well as a termination agreement with a short notice period.
Motivation from a third-party organisation to operate a scheme is required. Replica schemes have found that ‘BIDS’ (Business Improvement Districts) are interested in running similar programmes in partnership with their local businesses.
Upfront capital is also required. Contactless technology tailored for charitable giving can carry a hefty upfront cost. Sponsors of the initiative or pre-allocated innovation grants are desirable. This project benefited from both.
The innovation has been replicated in a number of cities across the UK, often with support and advice from TAP London; for example, one was set up by a BID in Leicester, who launched ‘Give Leicester’, which has 16 giving points across the city and launched in October this year. TAP London are awaiting results from replica models to understand the results they have experienced.
However, TAP London strongly believe that enabling citizens to help the less fortunate in their community through city-wide contactless giving can be replicated in cities with a similar environment to London (e.g. high contactless uptake, charities in need of support, high visibility of rough sleepers).
TAP London welcome any other BIDs, government officials or NGOs considering a similar model to reach out to us for up-to-date results, evidence and tips. There are various resources that can be used to prove a positive cost-based analysis for your campaign.
As TAP London have the raw data of the time and location of every donation given throughout the year, they have undergone a thorough analysis of our donor data to understand how best to optimise giving through contactless - including locations and time of day.
TAP London look forward to sharing this in a paper that will be published at the end of Q1. However, some preliminary findings include:
Public houses, bars and cafes are often the best performing locations
Ensure any window displays are large - small displays do not perform well or attract attention
Expect donation amounts to be up to 4x higher in weeks in Winter vs Summer
On reflection, a significant lesson that would be beneficial to others to know is to ensure that charities participating in the scheme provide updates and case studies quarterly, rather than annually. TAP London are yet to receive this information from a number of ther beneficiaries, and are eager to share this with people who have donated to the scheme.