If you grew up in Sweden, you’re probably familiar with Radiohjälpen—one of the largest charity organisations in the Nordics. This year marks its 80th anniversary. Here’s how Nordea and Swish are helping Radiohjälpen save on transaction fees—so more money can be spent on those most in need.
The origins of Radiohjälpen
Radiohjälpen´s first campaign was launched in 1939, in response to the threat of the Second World War outbreak. The goal at that time was to help the Swedish families and servicemen who were preparing to go to war. “It was an extremely successful campaign,” says Kristina Henschen, General Secretary at Radiohjälpen. “It soon became part of Swedish national radio—and eventually branched into television fundraising.”
Today, Radiohjälpen is one of the largest charity organisations in Sweden, and remains an integral part of the country’s Public Service Broadcasting. The entity provides funding for a diverse range of humanitarian projects. Internationally, it helps to fund emergency aid and development work. Within Sweden, it primarily supports charities that work to improve the lives of people with disabilities and disadvantaged children.
Over the 80 years since its inception, the charity has become deeply rooted in Swedish society. “Radiohjälpen is probably the most well-known charity organisation in Sweden,” Henschen says. “Everyone grows up knowing our name from the radio and TV—many people in Sweden know our donation account number, 90 1950 6, off by heart.”
Why Nordea decided to help
In 2012, the Swish mobile payment app was launched by six large Swedish banks, including Nordea. The mobile app makes it possible to transfer money between accounts in real-time. It was initially designed to help private individuals transfer money to each other, and soon it was expanded to cover payments to businesses. Very early on, the developers realised they could also use Swish to support charity organisations.
“When we launched Swish for our corporate customers in 2014, we knew straight away that we wanted to help charities in some way,” says Gunilla Garpås, Swish Product Portfolio Manager at Nordea—and one of the original Swish developers. “We decided that giving registered charities Swish without charging the usual transaction fee would be a great way to help them.”
Garpås reached out to charities on behalf of Nordea, suggesting Swish as a convenient and cost-effective way of accepting donations. Radiohjälpen was an obvious choice. “Radiohjälpen was already a customer of ours at Nordea. We had discussions with them about Swish very early on. In fact, they were one of our pilot customers.”
Fortunately for Radiohjälpen, it was able to keep its original account number within Swish. “In Sweden, certified charities and non-profits have what is known as a 90-account number,” Garpås explains. “In Swish they can use the number as an alias which makes it possible for donations to be made using the same 90-account number they’ve been using for decades—the number everyone knows.”
How Swish is maximising donations
Sweden is quickly becoming a cashless society—most people are now accustomed to paying online or by card, even for small, everyday transactions. Charities like Radiohjälpen need to be able to accept mobile payments and online donations, or risk missing out on thousands of potential donors.
That’s why it now uses Swish to accept donations during large events like Musikhjälpen—an annual televised fundraising appeal where celebrities are locked in a glasshouse for 144 hours. The donation process is simple—TV viewers go into the Musikhjälpen app or the digital fundraising site on their smartphone and confirm payment through Swish. In 2018, the Musikhjälpen event raised 51,845,061 SEK for Radiohjälpen—and the charity estimates that almost half (48%) of these donations came through Swish.
Radiohjälpen also fundraises through Melodifestivalen—a televised music competition featuring a number of famous and unknown Swedish artists. Every year, the contest is used to select Sweden’s representative for Eurovision. In addition to telephone voting, viewers can contribute to Radiohjälpen using Swish.
Swish doesn’t just simplify the donation process during events of this size—it also makes accepting and sorting donations easier for employees at Radiohjälpen. “Unlike other methods of donating funds, which can take several days to clear between banks, every donation we receive through Swish goes to our account instantly. We see the contributions coming through in real-time using the tools Nordea provide: Nordea Swish Företag Admin and App,” says Henschen.
“And when people donate to us through Swish, they have the option to name their chosen cause—which gives us much greater visibility of how our charity campaigns are performing.”
Making every krona count
For most businesses, a small fee is charged for every payment received via Swish — which may be up to 2 kronor per transaction. But at Nordea, we’re offering registered charities the use of Swish without any transaction fees—and we’re the only bank in Sweden to do so. This means Radiohjälpen has more money from each donation to put towards helping those in need.
Henschen says that Nordea’s offering has made a huge difference to the work Radiohjälpen does, and that they’re grateful for the ongoing support. “Nordea is making a very important contribution by offering us Swish at a discount. Every krona we save on fees adds up—and it’s money we can put towards meaningful causes,” says Henschen. “Nordea is really helping us to save and transform lives.”
To make a donation to Radiohjälpen, visit: www.radiohjalpen.se/stod-oss
If you’re a charity organisation, and would like to know how Nordea can support you, visit (in Swedish): www.nordea.se/swishforetag
To learn more about Swish, visit: www.getswish.se/frontpage/
Pictures: Swedish Radio
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