How many times have you wanted to donate to a charity worker, but just haven't had any change on you? Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, a division of Vision Australia, wants to solve this problem with a unique program.
Ambassador Seeing Eye dogs have undergone training but been deemed unsuitable for use as a regular Seeing Eye Dog. Now, with the addition of jackets fitted with Tap and Pay devices from NAB, they're now "Donation Dogs" — canine collectors which can work the room soliciting vital funds for the dog training program.
The Donation Dogs initiative was the brainchild of Vision Australia sponsorship manager Renee Jess, who was inspired by a proposal to add Tap and Pay facilities to the life-sized Seeing Eye Dog collection boxes located in airports and shopping centres.
NAB and Quest Payment Systems worked with Seeing Eye Dogs to source and fit the devices to the dogs' custom-made Seeing Eye Dog jackets. Royal Canin, one of SEDA's major partners, funded the introduction of the first Donation Dogs. Each payment device is linked to a mobile phone carried by the dog's handler, who can enter a donation amount and email or SMS a receipt on the spot.
"So now we’ve got dogs which can go out to various events, people can nominate the amount they want to donate and they can Paywave, make a donation and pat the dog at the same time," Jess says.
The Donation Dogs made their debut at Vision Australia’s showcase fundraiser, the annual Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve, and were wagging their way through the crowds at Seeing Eye Dogs’ Victorian Open Day in March.
"Expect to see them out and about more often, as the initiative expands", says Jess, who worked closely with her specialist business bankers at NAB to turn her innovative idea into a fundraiser which marries timeless animal appeal with up-to-the-minute contactless payment technology.
"It's innovative because the technology has never been used in this way before, but it's also quite engaging because we've got the dogs walking around taking donations," Jess says.
"We're becoming a cashless society, so a lot of the time people don't have cash on them, but that doesn't mean they're not interested. Once we talk to them and tell them what we're doing with the dogs, typically, they'll donate. The average donation to the Donation Dog is $18. Total donations collected over the two events have exceeded $5000."
In addition to attending Seeing Eye Dog fundraisers, Vision Australia is hoping the Donation Dogs will be invited along to external functions and events.
The organisation is expecting its government funding to be reduced following the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and is preparing to step up its fundraising efforts to cover the shortfall.
"Not all of Vision Australia's clients will be eligible for NDIS funding," Jess says.
"We're aiming to fund services to the clients that Vision Australia currently services as well as new referrals, which means our fundraising targets have to increase in the next couple of years."