October 08, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story

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Text FOLK to 24365 to Donate 

Don’t have cash for the orange buckets? The Folk Fest has a new way to give.

click to enlarge donate.jpg


Longtime Folk Festival volunteer Tim Fite managed something this year that should help pull the festival into the 21st century.

Fite, who works for Richmond-based CapTech Consulting, saw that bucket brigade volunteers were dealing solely with cash donations and that, as more vendors began accepting Square mobile credit card payments, fewer festivalgoers were bringing cash with them.

So he thought the Folk Festival could use its own mobile donation stream.

“I presented the idea as a volunteer opportunity to my colleagues and asked who would be interested,” Fite says. A team volunteered their time to help design, code and test the project. Now you can simply text FOLK (it’s not case sensitive) to 24365 and you will be sent back a prompt to a secure site where you can use VenMo, PayPal or credit and debit cards.

“We’re thrilled how easy it is for the user,” says Stephen Lecky, director of events for Venture Richmond. “The analytics are going to be amazing. We’ll be able to quickly see how donations are going and where they’re coming from, if there’s a particularly great performance on one stage. I’m excited to see it happen in real time.”

Fite points out that the big analysis will be how many more people are able to give donations.

“The people who work so hard on the bucket brigade will tell you they see people making large donations – $5, $10, $20 bills – yet the average donation is very low,” he says. “A lot of people didn’t have cash. We’re really hoping to see that more people who want to are able to donate.”

Even people who don’t come to the festival will now have an easy option.

“The radio is a big one,” he adds. “People listening on the radio around Virginia have never been able to donate.”

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