Charity groups and non-profits are always on the lookout for new ways to raise money. There is a lot of competition for such finite resources as public goodwill and generosity, so it’s important to develop fundraising strategies that help you stand out from the crowd.
One of the most exciting emergent methods of engaging with potential donors is mobile fundraising. Quick and easy for users, text donations have a proven track record, despite having only been around for a scant few years.
One of the first major successes was the United Way text-to-give campaign, which first aired during the 2007 Super Bowl, appealing to viewers on behalf of the recent tsunami in Asia. Using text-to-donate technology, the commercial raised around $10,000 within seconds, and quickly piqued the interest of other fundraisers who saw the potential of mobile campaigning.
Another global cause to benefit from text-to-donate and mobile promotion was the Haiti relief effort. The Red Cross raised a staggering – and record-breaking - $32 million during the month following the earthquake. Observers put the success down to the simplicity of the donation process: donors could send $10 to the campaign by sending a brief text to a shortcode. The wave of public support for the cause extended to the corporate world, with numerous carriers waiving their usual messaging fees.
The growing popularity of text-to-donate shows that, in many cases, the only barriers to fundraising are time and convenience, and not generosity. Compared to sending a check, making a phone call, or even visiting a charity website, texting is almost hassle-free for donors. With smartphone penetration expanding rapidly, and the vast majority of the public owning a cell phone of some description, potential donors often have their device to hand when an appeal comes on the television; text-to-donate eliminates the ‘manana-effect’ of even the most well-intentioned citizen.
Let’s say you want to donate to The Red Cross. By sending ‘REDCROSS’ to ‘90999’ you can donate $10 to the organization. The amount is simply added to your next phone bill (or deducted from a prepaid balance on pay-as-you-go handsets). By typing just 13 characters, donors have helped a good cause – probably without even standing up.
Like all mobile campaigns, a key benefit of mobile fundraising is the interaction with a young audience that is statistically less likely to give money to charity. And once they’ve opted in to your contact list, they’re more likely to donate again in the future.
It’s important to be aware that not all mobile schemes are created equal. Charities don’t necessarily get 100% of the amount donated, and if the donation is deducted from a phone bill, it can take significantly longer to reach it’s destination than, say, a credit card payment made directly on a website. Inconsistencies in processing times notwithstanding, mobile fundraising works, attracting demographics who aren’t usually in the habit of giving money to good causes.
Done right, text-to-donate can help organizations develop long-term relationships with benefactors. And it’s as true for non-profits as it is for commercial enterprise: long-termer are more lucrative than one-timers.