Mobile Fundraising in the Nonprofit Sector
The Direct Marketing Association hosted the 2010 Nonprofit Mobile Day Thursday, Aug. 26, in New York City, and I participated on a panel session titled “Why SMS is the Killer App for Charities,” along with Shira Simmonds, president of Ping Mobile; Tim Miller, president of Sumotext; Christian Zimmern, vice president of the Mobile Giving Foundation; and moderator Dan Butcher, staff reporter for Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily. Here are some of the key points from the discussion.
Mobile presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits to expand their fundraising and outreach efforts. Many nonprofits have already run successful fundraising campaigns; the biggest example to date is the mobile campaigns during the Haiti earthquake, where the American Red Cross alone raised more than $30 million using a common short code.
Common short codes are an effective way to elicit donations, and organizations such as mGive and Mobile Giving Foundation have been approved by carriers to do common short codes for $5 or $10 donations that can be billed directly to subscribers’ phone bills. This method provides a great way to collect donations quickly and easily. These programs run on shared short codes so they are already provisioned by the carriers. But charities can only run donation programs on these shared short codes and only in donation amounts of $5 to $10, and there are limits on how many times someone can donate using one of those shared short-code programs. Also, these codes may be shared by multiple charities at once, and nonprofits cannot develop brand equity with these codes.
Some nonprofits are now looking to obtain their own dedicated common short codes so they can direct donors to their own mobile-giving sites where donors can use their credit cards to pledge any amount they wish. Using a dedicated short code also allows organizations to run other campaigns in the short code, and are just not limited to donation programs, so nonprofits can use their dedicated short codes for additional outreach, status updates, alerts, volunteer recruitment, just to name a few.