National Museums Scotland: Contactless Donations Experience

Rob Cawston

Head, Digital Media, National Museums Scotland

National Museums Scotland

Chambers Street Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Museums and the Web GLAMi Groundbreaking Award 2018


Making Contact – Experiments with Digital Donations



Following the rise of contactless payments in the commercial sector, charities and cultural institutions are adopting the technology to increase income streams. Whilst coin donation boxes have long formed part of the fabric of museums, the sector is now exploring emerging digital tools to create new types of giving experiences. 


Focussing on a series of experiments at the National Museum of Scotland, this article outlines the core challenges in creating donation experiences using contactless technology. By examining the projects' success and failures, and sharing insights about visitor behaviours, the presentation reveals lessons for the sector as museums look to embrace new ways to generate in-venue support. Results will be placed in the in the context of the rapidly changing contactless market and shifting patterns of consumer behaviour to explore cultures of giving in the sector and point towards future developments.



Across four distinct trials of contactless technology a range of key questions posed are: How does the positioning of the contactless terminal within the museum space affect the frequency of visitor donations? What types of experience and core messaging can best attract attention and prompt interaction? How does the use of contactless technology for donations differ from commercial transactions—and how can organizations build visitor confidence in new technology to facilitate new ways of giving?





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