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Nonprofits drive mobile donation efforts via SMS

By
May 22, 2013

American Red Cross, Oklahoma City Food Bank and World Vision are all leveraging SMS to drive donations to aid tornado victims in Oklahoma and Texas.

The nonprofits are working with the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation on these initiatives. In addition to SMS donations, awareness for a mobile application is also being used for the donation efforts.

“SMS is all about quick response, it is all about impulse as the ability to reach a large and addressable audience,” said Jim Manis, founder/CEO of the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation, Issaquah, WA.

“Everyone carries their mobile device, and the most ubiquitous reach to get into that phone is text messaging,” he said.

“From a charity standpoint, it gives all demographics the option to make a donation, whether they have a credit card or not.”

Text to give
Several different keywords and short codes are being used to raise funds for tornado victims in the Texas and Oklahoma regions.

Consumers can text the keyword TORNADO to the short code 777444 to make a donation towards World Vision.

The Oklahoma City Food Bank is also using SMS to drive donations with the keyword FOOD and the short code 32333. The nonprofit launched a radio campaign to promote its SMS donations.

Additionally, the Red Cross is accepting donations via the keyword REDCROSS and the short code 90999.

Through these SMS programs, consumers donate $10 – all of which goes directly to the nonprofits – and is charged through a consumer’s phone bill from their carrier.

For a payment to be made, consumers must confirm their donation by replying YES to a bounce-back message.

Download for more information
Additionally, the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation is encouraging consumers to download the Helpbridge mobile application to help consumers get involved in relief efforts.

The app is available for iOS, Android and Windows devices and is sponsored by Microsoft.

The app supports 22 of the top-tier charities – such as Unicef, World Food Program and World Vision.

The app shows consumers which nonprofits they can donate to. Consumers can either text-to-donate or pay via PayPal from the app.

Consumers can also view organizations that are accepting donated goods and find volunteer opportunities via the app.

Per Mr. Manis, the goal of the app is provide transparent information for the consumer about the nonprofits and what the donations will be used for.

Nonprofits traditionally rely on mobile to raise money during natural disasters because it is an instant way to connect with a large group of consumers through a device that they most likely have within reach.

In particular, SMS has the widest reach of all mobile channels and can be leveraged in conjunction with other channels.

For example, in this case the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation is using SMS to also drive downloads of an app.

“Charities that do not use mobile are missing an opportunity with a channel that is best for acquisition,” Mr. Manis said.

“My prediction is that mobile will displace direct mail – mobile continues to grow and is the most responsive channel for donor engagement, so I think it has a significant and healthy future,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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