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A member of the “Bucket Brigade” makes his way around the crowd as Claire Lynch performs during the Richmond Folk Festival in Richmond VA Sun. Oct. 14, 2018.

The Richmond Folk Festival is right around the corner, with festivities starting Friday, and officials announced a new feature this year to help keep the festival free:

Text to donate.

“Most people don’t carry cash,” said Stephen Lecky, director of events for Venture Richmond.

Last year, despite having record-drawing crowds for legendary singer Mavis Staples, the Folk Festival saw a dip in the collections by the so-called Bucket Brigade, the volunteers who carry orange buckets to raise money for the festival.

In 2018, the Bucket Brigade collected $113,926; the year before, it collected $127,015. The festival has a budget of $1.4 million, which comes primarily from stage sponsorships and donations.

Tim Fite, a longtime volunteer at the Richmond Folk Festival, came up with the idea for “text to donate.”

“The Richmond Folk Festival is one of the most successful festivals of its kind,” Fite said in a statement. “People love the festival and want to donate, but they literally don’t have the cash to drop in the bucket.”

He works as a consultant at the Richmond-based consulting firm, CapTech, which helped him get the “text to donate” program working.

Here’s how it works: Fans can put a digital drop in the bucket by texting the word “FOLK” to 24365.

A text with a secure link will be sent to the person’s mobile device that will allow them to donate to the Richmond Folk Festival through PayPal or Venmo, or by a debit or credit card.

CapTech created the “text to donate” program and donated it to the festival.

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ccurran@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

Colleen Curran covers arts and entertainment for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She writes the weekly column Top Five Weekend Events.

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