Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 33 seconds

Mobile fundraisingCharities such as The National Breast Cancer Foundation and Lifewater have successfully run mobile giving campaigns that utilize mobile devices to capture donations for several years now. But it wasn’t until the recent relief efforts for Haiti that mobile giving really played a huge role in fundraising. Now, many non-profits are wondering -  What is mobile giving and how do we utilize it?

What is mobile giving?
Mobile giving works by allowing anyone with a text capable cell phone or Smartphone to make a donation via their mobile device. The process is quite simple. A mobile user types in the keyword and a short code, along with a monetary amount usually five or ten dollars, then hits send.

This combination of keyword and short code notifies the wireless carrier to add the donation amount to the customer’s bill. When the customer pays their wireless bill the carrier forwards 100% of the donation amount to the Mobile Giving Foundation, the Mobile Giving Foundation in turn forwards the money on to the non-profit.

Why run a mobile giving campaign?
According to Jim Manis, Chairman & CEO of Mobile Giving Foundation, there are 280 million wireless subscribers and over 260 million text subscribers. Consider that of all those users, most of them never go anywhere without their phone, and you have a huge potential donor pool.

Running a mobile giving campaign gives donors the ability to respond immediately to a call to action. The donor no longer has to remember to write check or log on to the internet when they get home. This ease of use really encourages people to give in the moment. The donor sees the campaign, texts the keyword and short code and within the space of minutes, the charity gets a donation, and the mobile user gets the satisfaction of helping out a charity.

So, does mobile giving replace other giving campaigns? Danny Scalisi of Mobilecause, a provider of mobile fundraising software, says, “It is a misconception that mobile giving is a replacement for other forms of fundraising, it is not. It is another way to fundraise”.

“As how people communicate changes, so does the way they give change. Take for example online giving“, Danny says, “look at online giving. It took years to take off, but now there are very few non-profits who don’t have a way to collect donations via their website”.

In addition, there is fundamental shift in how non-profits raise funds. In the current financial climate there are still major donors out there, but many charities are falling short of goals. Danny sees mobile giving as a way to bring in smaller incremental donations.

However, says Jim Manis, “these smaller incremental donations not only build revenue, they also build relationships. You are empowering the donor and creating a loyal relationship”.

Jim Manis feels that a mobile donor enjoys how easy it is to donate and is inclined to donate again to the charity. Jim considers mobile giving an integral part of the non-profit's long term fundraising plans.

How it works

Establishing a mobile giving campaign is a two-step process. First, a non-profit needs to register with the Mobile Giving Foundation. Upon receiving the application plus a one-time fee of $350, Mobile Giving Foundation reviews the charity to ensure that they are operating within established standards. After the certification process, which can take up to six week, is complete, Mobile Giving Foundation certifies the non-profit. This certification indicates to potential donors that the charity is going to use the donations in the manner intended.

The next step is for the non-profit to select an application service provider. Currently, the mobile giving foundation has a list of nine application service providers they have certified, and hope to add five more later this year. The approved application service providers:

  • g8wave Inc.
  • Give by Cell Give
  • on the Go, LLC.
  • iLoop Mobile, Inc.
  • Mobile Cause
  • Mobile Commons
  • MPower Giving
  • Russ Reid, Inc.
  • Wireless Factory

The certification process for application service providers is similar to the process for non-profits. The service provider demonstrates it can integrate with the Mobile Giving Foundation platform, and that they have the technology and resources available to optimize the charities' return on investment.

Application service providers have a set fee for their services. For example, Mobilecause charges a flat fee of $99 for an account that includes the ability to run a text2give campaign along with four other services. The non-profit and the application service provider work together to formulate the short code and keyword.

Once the keyword and short code are in place, the non-profit is responsible for getting out the call to action. Most charities use a combination of print and media adds to spread the word about their mobile giving campaign.

It is important to note that the turn around time for mobile donations is 60-90 days. The wireless carrier will remit the donation to Mobile Giving Foundation after the donor pays their wireless bill. Mobile Giving Foundation in turn, sends out the money to the non-profit after receiving it from the wireless carrier. Mobile Giving foundation provides daily or weekly reports to the non-profit so they can track the success of their campaign.

There is no doubt that mobile giving is simple way for donors to contribute to their favorite causes and as more non-profits see how easy it is to establish a mobile giving campaign, it is sure to become an integral part of their future fundraising efforts.

Last modified on Thursday, 04 June 2015
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