HMSC Visitor Center gets creative to boost donations

Feeding Time, HMSC Visitor Center

NEWPORT – Oregon Sea Grant’s Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center is popular, but over time, donations – the only admission we ask people to pay – have been on the decline.

When staff and volunteers realized the problem – that few people carry cash these days – they decided to install a kiosk to accept donations via debit and credit cards. But things got complicated; as a government entity, the center isn’t allowed to operate a wireless payment kiosk, and other state laws prevent universities from piggybacking on contracts the state has with companies that provide the service.

But Sea Grant’s Mark Farley, who manages the Visitor Center, didn’t give up. With help from Dee Wendler of the University Administration Business Center and Wallace Rogers, State of Oregon manager of e-Government and Voice Services, the Center was able to contract with e-Government company NIC-USA, a company already under contract to the state, thus meeting state requirements without taking on additional legal and financial risk. Rogers’ office also  got the Department of Justice to review the proposed HMSC project for compliance with state and federal law.

The new kiosk is expected to be in place in January – and the arrangement could pave the way for others, including OSU Extension agents, to sell publications and other items at events outside their own county offices.

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