Automatic Donor Machine?
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently received in its halls a number of donor kiosks — PCs with embedded keyboards and flat screens that run loops of the institute's ads and allow visitors to learn more about the institution and its donors, sign up for e-newsletters, make a credit card donation, and forward the donation page to a friend.
The kiosks are the creation of Austin-based environmental and graphic design consultants fd2s. Information on the kiosks is managed using a Web content management system, allowing development staff at the institution to publish articles to the interface and analyze usage. The kiosks are linked to the institution's database.
There are three kiosks total — two smaller ones that have one terminal and then a larger one that has two screens and keyboards side by side. An overhead screen runs a continuous loop of M.D. Anderson commercials to attract visitors to the tools. Another, lower screen features a keyboard where people can look up information about previous donors to the institution by donor name, state, etc., find out the history of M.D. Anderson and the services it provides, and donate using a credit card.
Asked about what he sees as the strengths of the kiosks, Mark Denton, director of business development for fd2s, says, "I think that the way that it brings together kind of multiple aspects of the fundraising process, that people can actually learn more about the institution and its mission and then see who else has donated and then actually make a donation. A lot of times you'll have all that information in the environment but never all in one place like this."
"Especially an institution like M.D. Anderson, that attracts people from all over the world and it's very specialized kind of care that they provide, when you can reach out to the families of patients or their visitors you know who already have an interest in the institution and some knowledge of it, I think that's a really strong market for them," he adds.
Denton says he thinks organizations that have environments that get a lot of foot traffic would be best suited for these types of kiosks.
"I think that a lot of people are going to be drawn to it. And a lot of times it's just going to be because they're bored. They're trying to kill time," Denton says. "At M.D. Anderson a lot of patients there will have multiple appointments in a day. So they'll kind of be stuck there for a whole day along with their families and the people that are there with them. So i think there's a lot of people that are going to use these things just as a way to kill time, and that's fine. They'll learn more about the organization and hopefully it will be interesting to them. But then I think that there's going to be a percentage of those people that do decide to go ahead and make a donation, whether it's there on the spot or maybe once they see the way M.D. Anderson relies on donors and what the money's used for then that might prime them to make a donation later."
He adds that while donating is a key function of the kiosks, it's not their sole purpose. "This thing is really not set up as a just come over here and give us some money. That's one of the things it does, but it's really initially to kind of draw people over there and learn more about the institution. It's presented as more of an educational thing."