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Donations Via Mobile SMS - Text Appeal!

21 July 2003 at 1:07 pm
Staff Reporter
If there's nothing new in fundraising here's an idea that's ringing a few bells for the embattled Australian Not for Profit - donations made via mobile telephones.

Staff Reporter | 21 July 2003 at 1:07 pm


Donations Via Mobile SMS - Text Appeal!
21 July 2003 at 1:07 pm

If there’s nothing new in fundraising here’s an idea that’s ringing a few bells for the embattled Australian Not for Profit – donations made via mobile telephones using the youth-driven text messaging phenomena called SMS. Text appeal is already taking the UK by storm!

So what is it? It’s an instant way to donate to a charity using a mobile telephone, and special SMS messages that allow donors to deduct amounts via their mobile phone bill. Already innovative Not for Profits overseas are finding new donors in the previously untapped youth market.

SMS stands for Short Message Service. Last year the English charity Comic Relief asked people to sign up to receive messages in the run up to Sport Relief Day in July and raised 1% of the ₤10m total by SMS!

The organisation ran two competitions and 320,000 supporters “text messaged” or phoned their answers to a premium rate number costing ₤1, of which 60p went to the charity.

It was the first time a UK charity had used SMS to fundraise and Comic Relief used it again this year for its Red Nose Day campaign with outstanding results. Since then dozens of organisations across the UK have tapped into the SMS market.

The big advantage of SMS is that it allows charities to target young donors and counter their ageing donor profiles.

In Australia SMS already has the ‘street cred’ of the under 35’s. And with only a few major carriers here, the concept is already being considered as a fundraising option. In the US the large number of telephone carrier companies makes it virtually impossible to coordinate SMS donations.

Here, Telstra says SMS now accounts for more than 90 per cent of data sales.

Its CEO Dr Ziggy Switkowski says the rate of growth of SMS is so steep that SMS will overtake wireless personal calls and conventional calls within the next couple of years.

Over Christmas 2002 Telstra used the SMS service to raise money for the Smith Family contributing more than $450,000 to support financially disadvantaged children and families by donating five cents for every SMS sent by its customers on Christmas Day.

Telstra confirmed that more than nine million SMS had been sent – resulting in $450,209.40 being donated to the charity.

The Smith Family’s Marketing and Relationship Manager, Dr Andrew Young, says the response from Telstra customers had been overwhelming.

Director of Telstra Mobile Marketing, David Scribner says customers sent so many more text messages on Christmas Day, around fifty-six per cent more than the same day last year.

Telstra expects mobile calls will rise from 800 million to 1000 million a month over the next 12 months. And how many are already using SMS across the country?

Graham Chalker, the CEO of Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) says the growth of SMS is explosive with over 290 million messages being sent each month in Australia! (124 million via Telstra alone!)

Chalker says the industry supports the Australian Communications Authority’s initiative to review current numbering policy and to consider new short number ranges for SMS services and future commercial possibilities.

It’s believed that this also includes the use of SMS by charitable organisations.

One Not for Profit organisation that says it’s looking to the younger donors is the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne and it’s keen to use the SMS technology.

Peter Mac Fundraiser, Michelle Trevorrow says she has been looking at text messaging as part of a new campaign which would see phone donors being able to download a special Peter Mac Icon to their mobile as well as a phone game in return for their donation.

Trevorrow says the youth dollar is one that hasn’t been tapped into yet by the cancer institute but it’s an area the hospital is keen to develop.

For the last two years Telstra Mobile has joined with the cot death prevention organisation SIDS allowing donors to download the National Red Nose Day Icon to the face of their mobiles. Up to 30,000 subscribers took up the offer with the proceeds going to the charity.

Is your organisation looking at SMS messaging as a new source of fundraising? If you would like to know more about SMS and how to do this register your interest with Pro Bono Australia at

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