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Mobile Phone Giving - More Than Just a Text

7 July 2011 at 12:48 pm
Staff Reporter
A new US report finds a growing trend toward Not for Profit adoption of mobile phone giving and other donor campaigns using smartphones and mobile devices - a trend that is going beyond the simple SMS text-to-give model.

Staff Reporter | 7 July 2011 at 12:48 pm


Mobile Phone Giving - More Than Just a Text
7 July 2011 at 12:48 pm

A new US report finds a growing trend toward Not for Profit adoption of mobile phone giving and other donor campaigns using smartphones and mobile devices – a trend that is going beyond the simple SMS text-to-give model.

Sparked by the startling success of disaster relief text-to-give campaigns, fundraising using mobile devices is proving to be more than just a flash in the pan with the best success being seen in methods beyond texting, or even fundraising at all, according to new research from AFP and Kaptivate.

The report, New Directions, shows that from 2010 to 2011, the percentage of Not for Profits using mobile phones to fundraise has nearly doubled to 9 percent, and is expected to reach 20 percent by the end of 2011.

The report says early adopters of mobile technology are achieving the best results by engaging their audience and have started to move beyond basic solicitations through an SMS text message.

Whereas there was a 24 percent decrease in the number of organizations with active text-to-give programs this year, there was a 27 percent increase in the use of mobile websites.

Although much of the momentum toward adoption of mobile giving programs by charities is attributed to text-to-give programs such as for Haiti disaster relief, respondents noted several factors that diminish the effectiveness of text message appeals. Fourteen percent of all individual contributions toward the Haiti relief effort were derived from donors spontaneously viewing a call to action, deciding to give $5, and dialing a short code to make their contribution in record time.

The report says there is not only a limit to the gift size, there is also no option for donors to sign up for recurring gifts, and there is little data available on the donors who give by text, making it hard to cultivate a relationship with the donor moving forward.

Mobile websites via smartphones, on the other hand, are growing in popularity because they can be used on any mobile device (as opposed to mobile applications specific to just iPod, Droid or Blackberry) and allow a more seamless integration with other fundraising and outreach efforts.

In other words, the report says, organizations can ask for recurring gifts and opportunities to become more deeply engaged in similar ways as they do on their regular website.

It says as technology is quickly evolving to a place where the Internet is always on and accessible, mobile media has become a way to inform and inspire action by people beyond just giving.

Flickr image by TarahDawdy via Creative Commons

Although donations may be the end goal of the donor cultivation program, many organizations have moved away from fundraising directly using mobile.

In fact, 47 percent of organizations using mobile media do not use it for fundraising, and more than half of study respondents would like to see more integration with social media to further donor engagement.

In addition to the move away from text-to-give fundraising and toward a more holistic mobile engagement strategy, the report also noted the following findings:

  • Over 20 percent of respondents use mobile solely to engage supporters and other key constituencies
  • The highest mobile adoption rates were reported by religious and charitable (social service and relief) organizations
  • About 22 percent of active mobile giving programs raised over $10,000, with more than half these successful programs generating over $50,000
  • Over 65 percent of all respondents see the fundamental value of mobile media to be the ability to integrate with social media activities.

The report says the use of mobile devices to encourage giving and deeper involvement with charities is proving most successful for organizations that aren't afraid to experiment. Some 233 Not for Profit organizations took part in the research.

A recent UK report found that the proportion of people giving by mobile phones increased by 12 percent in the 8 months to March 2011.

The Sending out an SMS report by research consultancy nfpSynergy shows the proportion of people who say they have used their mobile phone to send a text donation to charity in the past three months rose from 3 percent in July 2010 to 15 percent in March 2011.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, told Third Sector UK it estimated that, by 2014, text donations could be generating around £100m per year for UK charities.

Saxton says UK a culture of uncertainty among the charity sector remains the biggest and most important barrier for the future development of its application of mobile technology to supporter engagement.

Saxon says their research shows that charities can see the ever-increasing potential – among a seemingly ever-increasingly eager public – but they aren't yet reaping the rewards or finding success in utilising this new tool.

Charities that do engage with mobile giving can have resounding success, as shown by the Red Nose Day in the UK. The Sending out an SMS report found that 82 percent of people who donated via mobile phone said it was to this campaign.

In Australia it is more difficult for Not for Profits to use SMS texting to raise funds because of the way the telcos operate, according to the founder of Mobile Giving, Loryn Clark.

Clarke says Australia’s mobile phone carriers want up to 60% of the donation via the SMS text-to-give model, which makes it a very unattractive prospect for charities.

Clarke says using the new mobile technology to donate via a mobile web page is a much better option and is gaining some support in Australia.

However, she says while many Australian Not for Profits are seeing the potential in the new tools just like in the UK, they aren't yet reaping the rewards of the technology.


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