Fundraising Machines

Robots aren’t taking over the world, but they wouldn’t mind taking your spare change.

Two pint-size automatons have hit the streets on three continents to ask passersby for their pocket change. DON-8r (“donator”) relies on coin donations to keep it moving throughout the streets of Scotland. It seems citizens weren’t particularly inspired by the little guy’s “hello, hello, hello” and color-changing head because DON-8r didn’t get very far. During a nine-hour test, he raised a little less than $43. Korean-made “Dona” used her robot charms to greater effect. Donning a red cape, she bows, blinks, waves and wiggles, all the while raising $30 an hour during tests in New York City’s Union Square and Korea’s Seoul Museum of Art. Unlike her Scottish counterpart, Dona stays stationary, and it’s hard to ignore her wide-eyed pleas for support.

Are robots the future of philanthropy? Unlikely. These little gizmos are at the mercy of thieves, mechanical malfunctions and street sweepers. And although they are novel approaches that will no doubt capture attention and a few dollars along the way, we know the keys to successful, sustainable fundraising are personal relationships and human stories. Then again, a Salvation Army Red Kettle that did a little dance for your donation would not be half bad.


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