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Nonprofits go mobile to raise funds for Chile

March 9, 2010

texting1AmeriCares, Catholic Relief Services and Habitat for Humanity have gone mobile to engage supporters and fundraisers to support the Chile earthquake.

The organizations have looked to mobilize aid and plan recovery efforts, while also raising resources and funds to support its humanitarian programs in Chile. According to Mobile Commons, mobile communications and mobile fundraising have become critical components to nonprofit outreach programs.

“The strategy is to greatly expand the organizations’ use of SMS beyond a simple text donation,” Anthony Risicato, CEO of Mobile Commons, New York. “As you know, Mobile Giving programs are limited to a $10 maximum donation.

“Most large nonprofits have average donation sizes that are much larger than $10 and once you get someone to make a mobile donation, the non-profit has no effective means of communicating with that donor,” he said.

“Ongoing communication is the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations and all good marketers, but the current guidelines actually make it difficult for a non-profit to communicate with their supporters via an organization’s own short code.”

Mobile Commons is a mobile messaging platform that helps nonprofits, brands and agencies launch and manage mobile marketing campaigns.

The company has powered several mobile campaigns including the NYC Department of Public Health,, Andrew Agassi Foundation and ASPCA.

Mobile donations
The nonprofit organizations each have a keyword that consumers can text to a short code to donate.

Users can text LIVE to short code 25383 to donate $10 to AmeriCares, text QUAKE to 25383 to donate $10 to Catholic Relief Services and text CHILE to 25383 to donate $10 to Habitat for Humanity.

Users will be prompted to reply yes to confirm a one-time donation that will appear on their mobile phone bill – all donations are tax deductible.

Habitat for Humanity is running banner ads to promote the mobile giving initiative. Here is a screen grab on Wikipedia’s mobile site:


“[The nonprofits have] implemented long-term mobile programs that focus on engaging a supporter in the organization’s relief efforts,” Mr. Risicato said.

“They will be updating donors with information on the relief efforts, additional opportunities to volunteer or donate and putting a human face on the Chile disaster,” he said.

“Donors don’t want to be viewed as cash machines, and these organizations understand that fully.”

Fast response
Mobile Commons claims dozens of organizations were able to immediately launch a response for Haiti relief by using its mobile programs.

Additionally the company claims that for Chile, organizations further advanced its use of mobile SMS messaging to a highly-effective communications medium that includes immediate fundraising.

“Our clients have begun substituting text-to-call campaigns and general communication opt-ins over just asking supporters to make a $10 donation,” Mr. Risicato said.

“The lifetime value for both the nonprofit and the supporter is FAR greater when mobile is used holistically,” he said.

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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