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Something’s gotta give: How Tiptap is streamlining donations

This startup’s point-of-sale device makes it a snap — or a tap — to support a good cause

The notion of Canada as a benevolent country has long been a source of national pride. Indeed, in her end-of-2023 message, Governor-General Mary Simon reminded Canadians to commit to kindness in the coming years. But while people’s hearts may be in the right place, that acknowledgement does not always translate into concrete actions. According to a recent study, the number of people in Canada who have donated to charity has steadily declined over the past decade, with only 17.7 percent of those who filed taxes in 2021 reporting they had made any contributions. That downswing is cause for concern: 22 percent of Canadians expect to rely on charitable services for basic necessities, which means there is an urgent need for donations.

The startup Tiptap is hoping it can help. The Burlington-based company’s touchless digital platform allows people to make a predetermined donation or payment by tapping their credit or debit card on a point-of-sale device. In an increasingly cashless society convenience is key, and while Tiptap has largely been used for charity and fundraising efforts, the technology has other applications, such as tipping, payment to access venues or events and transit fares.

Barry Hildred was an early investor in the company, which launched in 2018. He was appointed as a special advisor in 2022 to help raise funds, and he was named acting CEO in January 2023. With his team and other advisors, Hildred managed to reduce operating costs, raise more equity and help the organization grow. Today, Tiptap’s clients include MADD, Children’s Miracle Network, the Toronto Zoo and the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Here, Hildred discusses the importance of volunteering as a team, the causes near and dear to his heart and the benefits of fast, frictionless tools in the charitable sector.

What is the benefit of having tech that makes it quick and easy to donate?

So many people walk around without cash — we use credit cards. Donations for organizations that rely on cash to support their fundraising efforts have declined over time, and our technology helps plug that hole. The nice thing is that it utilizes things we use every day: credit cards, debit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc. It’s literally one tap to donate a small denomination or to tip an individual, then you can walk away — you don’t even have to break stride. The device can be left unattended. It’s connected to the specific merchant account and transactions are encrypted end to end, so it doesn’t store any data. It’s as frictionless as possible.

Have the organizations that have implemented Tiptap seen any notable changes as a result of the system?

A number of programs have seen increased fundraising year over year. The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign is a big one right now. They’re using our technology in Canada and the U.S. We also worked with the Royal Canadian Legion earlier in November. Both organizations ran similar campaigns last year and fundraising has increased, which is surprising, as charitable giving has been declining across the board.

On Giving Tuesday, Tiptap’s internal team volunteered at Food for Life. Why is it important for you to work together to give back to the community?

Our organization works with hundreds of charities in Canada and the U.S., and it’s nice to get actively involved. In the summer, our devices were used at some McDonald’s locations for McHappy Day, and our staff helped out with collecting money. These causes are all worthy of our attention and our resources. We get to see what customers are experiencing with the product, and we learn how to improve our systems and our support. I think it’s important to stay connected and be close to as many causes as we can.

Can you share one of your favourite ways to give back?

I’ve been on the board of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada since 2008; right now, I chair their investment committee. Child welfare is very important to me. We do a holiday party with dinner and games every year for kids in care in Toronto. I’ve volunteered at the event for years, and I bring my three daughters as well. We help kids pick out toys in the gifting suite. It’s a phenomenal cause and a great event.

Photos courtesy of Tiptap

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