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Salvation Army ramps up mobile giving leading into holidays

November 9, 2010

You know its Christmas time when you hear that bell

You know its Christmas time when you hear that bell

The Salvation Army Tidewater Area Command has rolled out a Mobile Bell Ringer campaign running through Dec. 24 to raise funds for families in need.

The mGive-powered campaign is designed to introduce a mobile component into The Salvation Army’s traditional Red Kettle Christmas campaign. All proceeds raised from the Mobile Bell Ringer campaign will benefit local families in need in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Accomac and Northampton counties.

“The strategy behind our partnership with mGive is simple—we want to find ways to engaged and reach a different demographic than the stereotypical donor to The Salvation Army,” said Matthew Pochily, director of public relations and Web site for the Tidewater Area Command at The Salvation Army, Hampton Roads, VA. “Mobile communication allows us to send them text messages on upcoming events, empowers users with the ability to raise funds on our behalf or to just make a one-time donation.

“Mobile is going to be a constant complement to all of our fundraising efforts going forward,” he said. “As users begin getting more comfortable giving larger amounts via mobile, then it will become a larger piece of the fundraising pie—a few years ago people weren’t comfortable giving more than about $250 online, but that’s changed.

“Right now people are only giving $10 or so via mobile, but that will change soon too.”

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting nearly 30 million Americans who receive assistance from organization each year through social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
Established in 2005, mGive claims that more than 85 percent of domestic mobile donations are powered by mGive who serves more than 500 leading nonprofit organizations and has launched 7,000-plus mobile campaigns.

Ring my bell
To become a Mobile Bell Ringer, interested participants can text the keyword BELL to the short code 50555 to get information about registering.

A link will be sent to participants’ phones letting them know where they can register, download a Mobile Bell Ringer ringtone, collect donations, track donations collected and compare their progress against other Mobile Bell Ringers.

Once registered, each participant will be encouraged to set a donation goal and use their networks to collect $10 mobile donations to reach that goal.

To collect a donation, a participant simply enters the donor’s mobile number into their mobile Web page, triggering a donation request that gets sent to the donor’s mobile device via text message.

The donor will be asked to confirm the $10 donation to The Salvation Army.

All proceeds raised from this campaign will help provide food, clothing, shelter and toys to local families in need.

“Mobile can certainly help The Salvation Army reach a different demographic mix than has been the trend in the past,” Mr. Pochily said. “In the past many of our donations have come via mail and many of those donors are from the Baby Boomer generation and older, as these folks get older, we have to find new mediums in which to engage and empower people to become advocates for The Salvation Army’s work across the country and across the world.

“Mobile is one of the tools that gives us that ability,” he said. “Mobile also serves as complement to the current donor base.

“It’s important to us that we make it as easy as possible for anyone to give at anytime.”

Mobile giving is growing
The Mobile Bell Ringer campaign is powered by mGive, a service provider for mobile donations in the United States.

The Mobile Bell Ringer campaign empowers Salvation Army supporters to become mobile volunteers and help raise donations on behalf of the organization.

The campaign seeks to encourage a younger generation of donors to take part in a traditional holiday campaign by using the mobile device as a new avenue for engagement, communication and donation collection.

The Salvation Army’s Mobile Bell Ringer campaign features mGive’s new mRaiser service, a peer-to-peer fundraising tool that encourages friendly competition among supporters who set donation goals and utilize their networks to collect mobile micro-donations to reach that goal.

“The goal of the Mobile Bell Ringer campaign is to get each supporter to pledge to find 10 people to make a $10 mobile donation this holiday season for families in need,” said Brian Leamy, executive vice president at mGive, Denver. “The Mobile Bell Ringer campaign reduces the hardships associated with finding traditional bell-ringer volunteers willing to stand outside in the cold for hours to help collect donations for families in need.

“MGive enables The Salvation Army to rally volunteers to take part in a traditional campaign using an unconventional technique by encouraging volunteers to turn their mobile phone into a Mobile Red Kettle this holiday season,” he said. “The Mobile Bell Ringer campaign allows volunteers to ring the bell anytime, anywhere – inside or out.”

Final Take

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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