The Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints: Giv­ing Machines

Exhibited by
Liz Attfield
July 14, 2022
Medium of Communication
Partnerships; street fundraising
Target Audience
Individual donors
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Imagine using a vending machine, not to get a candy bar or drink, but instead to donate to a worthy cause. It’s possible! This fundraising idea is simple, effective and makes donating easy. No wonder it was the winning presentation at I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT): The Americas 2022. Read why Liz Attfield from ST (Stephen Thomas Ltd) chose this campaign or watch her video presentation below. 

Summary / objectives

The Giving Machines are vending machines with a Christmas twist. They were placed in public spaces around the USA to allow people to donate to global and local organisations who had partnered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Creator / originator

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)


It’s December. Imagine you’re in Utah, shopping at the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City. As you wander through shops, you come across a crowd gathered around what appears to be a vending machine. You’ve hit upon a Light the World Giving Machine! It is a vending machine, but this vending machine is special.

Instead of buying some candy or pop, you insert your credit card to the Giving Machine to make a donation and ‘buy a gift’ for someone in need.

Special characteristics

In 2019, the LDS Church created a TV spot to launch that year’s campaign. It was as emotive and showed the impact a simple purchase from a Giving Machine can have, and the real life difference the donor could make in the lives of people around the world. You can watch the video here:

Every year since 2015, the machines have been set up in cities around the United States, from Utah to Las Vegas, New York to Hawaii.

By targeting multiple cities and placing machines in high-traffic places like malls and outdoor spaces such as the Rockefeller Center, the LDS Church fundraisers are able to capture a wide audience, create buzz and ultimately drive donations.

Giving machines offer many gifts at various price-points.

Customers / donors can buy:

·      food such as meals, milk, livestock

·      activities for kids: balls, jump ropes, etc.

·      practical items such as shoes, strollers, school supplies, eye exams, etc.

Gift prices are varied, as low as four dollars for a textbook to US$150 for a cow.

Donations support global and local charities – the donor chooses! 

There are a number of global partners, charities such as Unicef, Care, WaterAid, CWS International, and USA for UNHCR. But there are also many local charities like food banks, missions, family service and child crisis organisations, refugee organisations and The Actors Fund in New York who benefit too. These include organisations of different denominations to the LDS Church.


It’s unique – did you ever think you would walk away from a vending machine having bought two chickens or a cow? This makes the fundraising campaign stand out and, in my experience, being different is important in today’s competitive fundraising environment.

It’s easy – many of us have used vending machines before, so the concept is familiar, and donating takes no time at all! This is so important in fundraising – we need to keep it easy for donors to support the cause.


Giving Machines have raised a ton of money – and doesn’t every fundraiser strive for that?

In 2021, 300,000 people visited a Light the World Giving Machine, donating US$3.8 million. 

And most importantly, many people have benefitted, as donations raised in 2021 will provide:

  • 1.7 million meals and 14,000 boxes of produce
  • clothing and polio vaccines for thousands of children
  • over 80,000 chickens, to give families long-term nutrition and income potential

Since it began in 2015, Giving Machines have raised more than US$15 million (and it only runs from November to January each year!).

Editor’s note: You can watch Liz’s full IWITOT presentation here:

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Giving Machines were set up in cities all over the United States.
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The Giving Machines look just like regular vending machines.
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Donors have the option to donate to a wide range of global and local charities.
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If you look carefully, you can see where the donation goes on each item in this photo.