Solving the Mobile Giving Puzzle
There are some gotchas, processing fees and common frustrations, but overall, setting up and operating a text-message donation campaign is a fantastic way to reach donors at the moment of inspiration. Mobile Active, the excellent source for all things mobile, has an exhaustive write-up covering the details of setting up and operating a text-message donation campaign.
The biggest gotcha is that your nonprofit needs to have earned $500,000 in the past year to qualify. Unfortunately, this puts many nonprofits out of the running. If this includes you, onward to option No. 2!
This lesser known method avoids the $10 maximum donation limit imposed by text-message donations. Using this method, you similarly promote your designated fundraising phone number. When a potential donor sends a text message to this number, however, your nifty automated system forwards the message directly to your staff or, if you can afford it, to a call center. The staffer or call-center worker then calls that donor back, creating a nice personal touchpoint — and collecting a credit card number in the process.
This method was used by the John Edwards campaign with great success directly after an incident in which the Democratic candidate was maligned by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter.
Online services such as TextMarks.com can get you up and running in about five minutes, starting at $19 a month (not including the call center). Vendors such as Mobile Commons and Mobile Accord can set up everything (including the call center) for a significantly higher monthly rate — accompanied (as you might expect) by a higher level of –service.
Here's a riddle for you: How can you use a mobile phone to fundraise without collecting funds via mobile phone?
The answer should be reassuring to those of you who like to think holistically about your fundraising strategy: Use text messages to keep supporters warm.