Is Mobile Fundraising the Next Frontier for Charities?
So what is an enterprising nonprofit to do? How can the ubiquity of mobile phones be leveraged for a just-in-time contribution when a potential donor is inclined to give — say, upon seeing a particularly effective advertisement or appeal? Even though premium SMS is only marginally viable for micro donations or to build a mobile list (and should not be underestimated for this purpose), there are other ways in which nonprofits can think creatively about integrating cell phones into fundraising campaigns.
Internationally, there are many clever examples of innovative fundraising campaigns:
* Meir Panim, a network of soup kitchens in Israel, recently ran “SMS for Lunch,” a promotional interactive campaign: Its Web site featured the image of a boy with an empty plate and invited visitors to donate through SMS. The moment the system received the SMS, the banner changed: The plate filled, and the boy smiled. The amount of the donation — each SMS — covers the cost of one meal for a child, according to the site.
* In Australia, a special exhibit called “The Human Zoo” — an experiment that places humans in animal zoo enclosures — allowed visitors to vote by text messaging for their favorite human beings, with the proceeds of the premium SMS going toward the construction of a new enclosure (for animals, presumably).
* Amnesty UK is experimenting with a digital wallet, a service of a mobile company called LUUP. Using LUUP allows more money and larger amounts — up to £800 — to go to the human-rights organization instead of the network operators.
In addition to LUUP and mobile payment providers such as mobile PayPal, organizations are experimenting with mobile Internet sites, also called WAP sites, where people with WAP-enabled phones can interact with the charity and make donations, as well as purchase ringtones, games and wallpapers.