You may have already started to hear the little tinkle of Salvation Army bells as the ringers work to raise dollars and cents in the iconic red kettles. This sound may have you reaching into your pockets only to find used tissues — no change. But this year, the organization is working with a little high-tech number that will allow people to make mobile donations with their credit cards.Red Kettle Gets a Digital Twist With Smartphone Credit Card Attachment

Square, a dongle that can turn iPhones, iPads or Androids into a credit card terminal, will make this possible.

The New York Times has more:

“A lot of people just don’t carry cash any more,” said Maj. George Hood, the Salvation Army’s spokesman. “We’re basically trying to make sure we’re keeping up with our donors and embrace the new technologies they’re embracing.”

[...]

Lucy Bernholz, an expert on the use of technology by nonprofits, said this could have enormous potential. “It’s a no-brainer,” Ms. Bernholz said. “It’s frictionless and will make it so easy to give that if the person ringing the bell can get your attention, there’s no excuse any more because chances are you’ve got a credit card in your pocket.”

According to the Salvation Army blog, the use of Square will be launched in 10 locations each in four test cities – Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Square will be used with Android smartphones donated by Sprint Nextel for this purpose.

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army encouraged people to whip out a credit card for its Red Kettle Campaign, according to the Times, but they believe this version will provide easier transactions and be more successful:

Three years ago, the Army added traditional credit card processing terminals to the Red Kettle Campaign with mixed results — it gathered just $60,000 that way in 2009, the last year the program was used nationally. In comparison, more than $148 million in coins and bills were tossed into the Army’s red kettles in 2010.

“The credit card terminals really haven’t been a blockbuster, I’ll be candid,” Major Hood said. “The winter elements have been a negative, people have to go through a process of entering data, and it’s just generally more cumbersome than we think Square will be.”

Watch how Square will be used for the 120th Red Kettle Campaign:

[H/T Gizmodo]