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Soles4Souls targets young adults with SMS donation campaign

October 1, 2009

Happy feet

Happy feet

Soles4Souls has launched a mobile donation drive to raise funds for its footwear charity.

Partnering with the Mobile Giving Foundation and Distributive Networks, the shoe charity is now accepting donations via text messages. The plan works with all major mobile service providers and lets users text the keyword SHOE to short code 20222 to make a $5 donation.

“We are committed to being one step ahead in the nonprofit world and are always looking for creative ways to get people plugged in,” said Wayne Elsey, founder/CEO of Soles4Souls, Nashville, TN. “This is one of our viral campaigns that we are actively going after. 

“We want to make people aware that one text message can help change the world,” he said.

Soles4Souls collects shoes from footwear manufacturers’ warehouses and consumers.

The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away more than 5.5 million pairs of shoes.

The SMS donation charge will appear on the consumer’s phone bill.

Mr. Elsey said this mobile donation campaign is helping his organization reach a younger generation of consumers.

“Young people now are attached to their cell phones, and even though they may not be seeking out ways to give back, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to,” Mr. Elsey said. “This is just taking the middleman out of the scenario and allowing them the freedom to give on their terms.”

Soles4Souls’ short code 20222 will always remain the same, but future campaigns may use different keywords.

The campaign is placing its calls-to-action in outdoor, print and online advertising, as well as social media. In addition, when a consumer is on hold waiting to speak to a Soles4Souls representative they will hear a taped audio call-to-action.

Mr. Elsey said that the idea is to saturate the market to make consumers realize they can give right where they are.

Mobile donations have become prevalent in the nonprofit sector.

In March, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals encouraged consumers to make donations via mobile.

The ASPCA offers free cat and dog tips to mobile users by sending a text message with keywords CAT or DOG to short code 27722. At the bottom of the ASPCA’s SMS alerts, it asks subscribers to reply with the keyword GIVE to make a $5 donation (see story).

The National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum and the North South Motorsports team teamed up to raise funds and awareness via mobile.

The partners tapped Mobile Commons for the initiative. The SMS calls-to-action was issued at the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race in Richmond, VA, on Sept. 11, where a custom-designed car commemorating 9/11 victims was driven by NASCAR racing star Benny Gordon at Richmond International Raceway (see story).

This is Soles4Souls’ first exclusively mobile campaign, but Mr. Elsey said that he anticipates building on this SMS donation drive to launch other innovative campaigns.

“[Mobile] plugs people in for a modest amount instantly,” Mr. Elsey said. “At a concert, for example, an artist can ask someone to pull out their cell phone and make an instant donation to us since they are supporting our cause.

“Simple, easy and direct,” he said. “There aren’t the same limitations on mobile giving as other platforms because your cell phone goes everywhere you go.”

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Chirs Harnick is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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