Shouldn’t ATM giving be helping small charities?

Rather excitingly the ATM giving initiative is kicking off this week, allowing people to make charitable donations through some 8,000 Royal Bank of Scotland cash machines.

Hopefully the whole concept of making giving money as easy as taking it out will inspire lots of spontaneous philanthropy across UK high streets. 

But what isn’t that exciting is the bank’s rather humdrum choice of charities. It is the same big players that dominate the sector. Among the chosen eight are: Cancer Research UK, Oxfam, Children in Need, Age UK, the RSPCA – so definitely no surprises there.

Of course, they are all fantastic causes and great charities. But couldn’t this have been an opportunity to be a bit more imaginative and support a couple of the smaller charities? The ones that could really benefit from even the smallest boost in funding during these bleak economic times.

The other banks are set to follow suit and ATM giving will soon be available at all 65,000 cash machines in the Link network. So, perhaps, we can hope that a wider selection of charities will benefit eventually.

Bank Machine, another ATM operator with 4,000 ATMs, is doing things a bit differently and getting a panel of sector experts to choose 30 charities – six for each five regions across the UK.

Emphasis will be on choosing charities whose work directly affects the different regions.

So surely here’s an opportunity for the panel, chaired by the NCVO’s Sir Stuart Etherington, to look beyond the scope of the UK’s top 100 biggest charities.

Everyone in the sector is finding it tough at the moment with donors’ incomes being squeezed by the recession, and deep cuts to public spending.

But this could be an opportunity to boost the profile and income of some of the smaller charities that do amazing work on the frontline and are being hit hardest by the cuts.