Text Giving: A Tool, Not a Miracle
Results, to put it mildly, have varied. Most new owners of text-to-give experienced only a trickle of revenue. Others did better.
But what few of them noted was the impact of their text-giving campaigns on other giving channels. I think if they had, the gold rush would have faded away like an overplayed Top 40 song. Here's the problem: If you use text-to-give improperly, you'll end up trading away involved, ongoing donors for anonymous, one-time, no-connection, low-dollar gifts. The revenue lost (or rather, the revenue never seen in the first place) adds up faster than a cat running from a power drill.
What text-to-give does well
That's not to say text giving is a bad tool. It does one thing better than any other fundraising medium: It quickly reaches and gives outlet to an army of young people when it's stirred to action. The key point is young people.
These folks overwhelmingly aren't (yet) donors. That will come, if it comes at all, some time after they turn 50. For now, each $5 or $10 you get from them via cell phone is money you would not have collected other- wise. As long as those gifts come from an audience of nondonors, you're getting 10 bucks instead of zero every time someone uses it.
But here's the washing-windows-with-a-drill part: If you pushed just one person to give via mobile who otherwise would have given by any other medium, you lost a rather large bunch of money. (See sidebar.)
I have to wonder how many of those 300,000-some text donations that went to the Red Cross could have been $90 Web gifts that also meant warm bodies who just might give again some day. How many people scratched their philanthropic itch with a quick, anonymous 10 bucks — when they might have happily gone online and joined the ranks of connected and considerably more valuable donors?