I’ve now seen two charities use outdoor advertising and NFC technology to encourage a PayPass $1.99 donation from people who engage with the ad.

Last year the Melanoma Institute had a very clever outdoor digital installation that responded to a tap donation.

And this week as I was walking through Martin Place, I saw the Prostate Cancer Foundation use a very overt outdoor placement to solicit pedestrians for a donation.

This makes me happy as I’ve been talking up NFC technology with our clients and when speaking at conferences for the last year and it’s cool to see it being used.

Melanoma Institute

This digital outdoor ad was very subtle and clever – which isn’t usually what I would recommend for a fundraising campaign where you need to be direct and straightforward – but as a marketer the restraint of the creative made my heart sing.

The ad was a digital signpost in the busy pedestrian thoroughfare that is Pitt Street Mall in Sydney. The digital image showed the slow growth of an inkblot of a melanoma as it expanded over a 5-minute period. The call to action on the ad was “Every donation goes straight into reducing melanomas”. And if the donor tapped their card against the PayPal terminal and made a $1.99 donation, the inky melanoma started to shrink.

See, clever and subtle.

NFC technology used in outdoor advertising for digital fundraising

Watch how the Melanoma Institute outdoor ad.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia


The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia using NFC technology.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation also used NFC technology in an interactive signpost in another key pedestrian walkway in Sydney’s CBD, but this wasn’t digital, it was analogue but tried to incorporate other senses to give the donor a payoff.

The call to action is very strong – “Donate Here for Prostate Cancer”.

When I stopped and tapped my card, again for a $1.99 donation, the BBQ lit up with a red fire and two vents were supposed to emit both the sound and smell of a BBQ – which I totally missed. There was a guy there filming it (he was very grateful that I stopped to engage with the ad as he’d been there a while) and he told me – but the location was right next to a large fountain and I couldn’t hear the sounds and didn’t notice the smell even when I stuck my nose right up to the vent.

In my opinion, this was a cool idea, that didn’t really pay off because you’re too close to the ad to see the action happening. You need to step back. But perhaps my fellow commuters would have seen it, although none of them stopped.

Does NFC work as a fundraising opportunity?

I seriously doubt that either Melanoma Institute or the Prostate Cancer Foundation made any serious dollars out of these ads. I’d actually be surprised if they got more than $100 nationally, but what they are doing is trying something new in driving awareness into action.

NFC can be a good opportunity to get cash donations up to $99 when at an event. If you’re just focused on income for events, this is a no brainer, especially at public events where people may tap instead of putting money into the bucket.

The tricky part is working out the donor journey in capturing their details to send them a receipt (for any donation over $2 this is mandatory, hence the $1.99 price point). It’s easy enough to do with a mobile app, but not as streamlined as tap and go.

What is NFC technology?

If you want to know more about NFC (Near Field Communication), click here.