Text Donations and Mobile Giving

With the increase use of smart phones, mobile devices and text messaging in general, many organizations are responding by accepting text donations or launching mobile giving campaigns. Although, Text donations or “text-to-donate” campaigns have become increasingly popular, they tend to work much better with large national campaigns where you are looking for one-time donations. Another option for nonprofits or smaller organizations is to launch a mobile giving campaign. This will allow organizations to accept mobile donations while accomplishing a number of other things such as: spreading awareness for their cause, highlighting sponsors, tracking fundraising progress, promoting fundraising events, and much more all from their fundraising website.

This article discusses the differences of these two options.

photodune-650743-man-reading-text-message-xsText Donations: Today, people spend more time sending texts than actually talking to one another on the phone. They also confirm appointments via text, receive text notifications when an order is ready…so why not make a donation w/ a simple text? Text donations make it easy and convenient for potential donors to easily respond to your request for support. Text-to-donate allows for people to make a set donation (i.e. $5 or $10) by simply typing in a message (i.e. HAITI, PEACE or HELP) to a 5- or 6- digit code. Just like any fundraising cause, with text donations, you still need to make donors aware of the need for financial support, as well as clearly communicate the SMS text and numeric code for call-to-action.  You’ll also need to promote this through advertising, public relations, social media, etc.

Some benefits of text donations include 1) donors don’t have to think about what “amount” they’d like to donate, 2) they do not have to enter a credit card number (they are simply billed by their phone provider). Text donations are great for people who may act on impulse. They simply type one word and hit send. Done. Donation is made, and the contributor feels good. However, there are also a few drawbacks.  First, the donation amount is limited to a pre-determined value (i.e. $5 or $10).  Second, the actual “cause” only receives about half of the actual donation made due to the high premiums charged by carries who take a substantial percentage of donations. Lastly, some people feel that text donations are actually a negative as far as cultivating long-term donor relationships.

“I think text funding and crowdfunding is terrible fundraising — you can’t steward, can’t collect donor data, can’t thank the donor. It’s bad fundraising,” says Patrick Rooney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Two women using tablet computerMobile Fundraising: With the increasing use of smart phones and ipads, many organizations have decided to integrate mobile fundraising as part of their fundraiser instead of choosing a text-to-donate campaign. Mobile fundraising allows potential donors to easily make donations with their credit card via their mobile device. There is also the option to accept payment via Google Wallets, Paypal, etc. making it even easier on donors as they do not to physically enter in their credit card number, but can log into their account where a saved credit card is on file. Mobile fundraising campaigns also leave the donation amount open-ended. People can choose to donate $5 or $1,000.  If you do choose to go this route, you’ll want to have a mobile optimized website to make the online experience positive from a smaller device (i.e. smart phone, ipad, mini, etc) Features such as: larger font sizes for easy reading, bigger text boxes for data-entry, and simple “buttons” for making selections, make interacting via a smaller screen more user-friendly.

Probably the biggest benefit of mobile fundraising is that people can do MORE than just make mobile donations. They can also register for a fundraising event, check event details, view goal progress, and post comments ALL on your fundraising website. Mobile fundraising is a nice solution as it allows for mobile donating, but still encourages engagement and builds long-term relationships with your sponsors and constituents.

Whatever you choose to do, it is beneficial to start thinking about how you will work mobile giving as part of your upcoming online fundraising campaign. After all, in a few years, researchers predict that mobile usage will exceed that of laptop and desktop computers.  As Eileen Heisman (President and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust) puts it, “The Internet is taking over in our lives. We need to figure out how to take advantage of that.”

Good luck!