Investigating BPAY for Charities
Monday, 4th March 2002 at 12:03 pm
Australians love new technology. So it’s no wonder that several Not for Profits have been considering the new-technology bill paying service called BPAY to attract donations to their organisations.
So Pro Bono Australia has done the legwork to see how this system could work for the sector.
BPAY is the telephone and Internet bill-paying service attached to financial institutions, which launched in November 1997 with nine banks.
BPAY’s National Business Manager, Linda Hemstrom says today more than 130 Australian financial institutions offer the BPAY service as a feature of phone banking and Internet banking.
More than 5,000 billers accept BPAY payments and more than 7 million Australians are registered phone and Internet banking customers – more than 2.8 million of them online.
In October 2001, Australians used BPAY to pay 6 million bills with a value of $3 billion. Internet banking represented 48% of all BPAY payments.
BPAY financial institutions include Adelaide Bank, ANZ, AMP Bank, Arab Bank, Bank of Melbourne, BankWest, Bendigo Bank, Challenge Bank, Citibank, Commonwealth Bank, HSBC Australia, Macquarie Bank, National Australia Bank, St George, Suncorp Metway, Westpac and a large range of credit unions and building societies.
Linda Hemstrom says the BPAY system allows people to use both their own customer number and a billing company’s unique billing code, to pay accounts via telephone banking or Internet Banking.
Hemstrom says the system’s flexibility has seen a number of charities approaching the company to adapt the system to fundraising. A search of the BPAY list of billers now includes several school-building funds and a variety of small Foundations.
Hemstrom says clubs of all types and even Body Corporates are accepting payments on line these days so it seems to be a natural progression for charities to accept donations this way.
With that many people organising their funds on the Internet and via the telephone, the opportunity to raise much needed charity funds hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Almost twelve months ago Pro Bono Australia discussed this concept with several Not for Profits.
The RSPCA’s Jill Nichols says she started investigating BPAY after seeing how comfortable most people are with paying their bills using the facility, either on the telephone or on the Internet.
Nichols says cheques are getting harder and more expensive to deal with, and the BPay service offers a security that millions of Australians are already at home with.
The RSPCA is not alone in wanting to introduce this system, but setting it up may have a few hurdles and complications that the Adelaide Bank Charitable Foundation says it has since overcome.
Sue Mikkelsen is the Foundation’s Executive Officer who came to the job from a marketing background.
Mikkelsen says she was in the lucky position of being part of the Adelaide Bank and having experts on hand to help her set up the BPAY system to accept donations.
The Adelaide Bank Charitable Foundation was established in 1981 and since then has provided more than $3.4 million dollars in funding grants to 317 organisations for a total of 936 projects.
Mikkelsen says the key to simplicity is to give anyone who wants to donate a generic customer number. Once they have made the donation transaction on the Internet it will link-back to the Foundation’s own Web page where donors can leave their name and address and a thankyou note/receipt can be sent out.
She says using the BPay facility is just one extension of the expansion into Internet technology which will include broader fundraising activities in the future such as on line auctions.
Each financial Institution has its own pricing policy about what to charge for the BPAY service. Pro Bono Australia has been in negotiations with the Westpac, Commonwealth, and National Australia Bank to offer Not for Profits reduced set up fees. Despite our efforts, the banks say they need to see volume, that is, large numbers of NFP’s willing to take up BPAY before making any offers.
Last week’s FIA Conference in Brisbane discussed issues of new technology. One consequence has been the phasing out of cheque books by many people because of rising bank charges! New donation methods need to be investigated.
Are you interested in setting up a BPAY donation system? Or are you already using the system having paid the commercial rate to be involved? If you would like to join the campaign by Pro Bono Australia to get a special rate for the Not for Profit sector send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.