How the Royal Canadian Legion is using technology to help the poppy campaign

For generations, the Royal Canadian Legion used a poppy box to raise money to support veterans. Now it is using technology to find a new way to help the cause.

As the old saying goes, ‘Cash is king,’ but that may no longer be true for retail shoppers in the 21st century.

“I carry very little cash nowadays,” said one person who spoke with CTV News. “Maybe change in the car but definitely not bills like we used to.”

That’s a problem for the Royal Canadian Legion, which depends on people having cash on hand to contribute to its poppy box.

“It’s very important because the funds raised through the poppy campaign are what we use to support our veterans and families,” said Ronn Anderson, with the Royal Canadian Legion.

It’s prompted the Legion to find a new way to get donations – a poppy box equipped with contactless payment capabilities. Passersby can donate $2, $5, or $10 with a simple tap of their card.

Lindsay Friesen, the marketing co-ordinator at the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Asper School of Business, says this is a smart idea.

“It definitely puts it in front of them and offers them a chance to participate,” Friesen said. “I know so many people would just say I don’t have cash on me, or I don’t have a loonie to donate. This gives them an option to participate and do that quick tap function.”

Because of that added convenience, Lam An, a marketing professor from the University of Winnipeg, believes the tap boxes will help reach a younger audience and encourage them to donate cash to the campaign.

“It’s not really an option, it’s a must-have,” An said, given the way consumers are spending money these days.

Anderson believes the tap boxes will become more widespread in their usage as time goes on, although they’ll take some getting used to.

“I like counting the cash,” Anderson said with a laugh.

But he loves people supporting veterans and their families, and he’s grateful for the donations, wherever they come from. 

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