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Thoughts on Pew Internet: Real Time Charitable Giving

January 21st, 2012 by Doug | Posted in mobile marketing, text marketing

If you’re interested in learning more about text giving programs like the hugely successful programs from the American Red Cross then I suggest reading the latest research report from Pew Internet and American Life Project that can be found at, “http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/MobileGiving.aspx”.

I have the privilege of working with the American Red Cross and I played a central role in launching the Text Haiti to 90999 program back in 2010 with Mobile Accord so I’m particularly pleased to see this data available publicly. My experiences correlate well to those presented in this research report but there are a few pieces of data that are missing.

Surprisingly the Red Cross found that the vast majority of text donors had no prior relationship with the Red Cross. Here’s the URL to the Mobile Marketer story where that data was presented – “http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/messaging/7169.html”. Many charities are concerned about cannibalizing larger online donations with smaller text donations. This data suggests that text donations are incremental to other channels and that text is a great way to recruit new supporters to your cause.

There’s also a bit of controversy over the efficacy of text donations. Overall donations from text for the Red Cross Haiti appeal were around 7% of total funds raised. As a percentage of donations from digital channels only, the text donations were an even larger share. Subsequent disaster fundraising results show this trend continuing. Most charities would welcome Increasing total donations by high single digits while meeting new supporters so text appears to be effective.

Perhaps more important though are the implications for the future. Text is just one channel for donations from a mobile phone and a mobile phone is just one category of mobile device. Imagine how effective mobile giving will be in the future when charities are able to much more seamlessly integrate text, social media, and traditional digital campaigns reaching the whole universe of connected devices (tablets, smartphones, e-readers, etc.) giving the public multiple ways to support causes important to them and at a moments notice. Over time text may not turn out to be the most lucrative fundraising channel but it is most definitely showing us that mobile is increasingly important to the public as a way to connect with their causes and cannot be ignored as part of a comprehensive digital strategy.


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