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What to Know About Text to Donate Campaigns

Mobile GivingA recent study by PEW Research said that 1 in 10 Americans donate by impulse through SMS. They also said that 76% of those people do little research before making the donation. So it seems that ‘text to donate’ would be an easy way fundraise, right? Not exactly.

I actually helped implement one of these campaigns and first hand, I can tell you that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Also, many nonprofits are unprepared to engage in this type of campaign and think that they can do little planning and just promote it in their newsletter or on their Facebook page and the donations will come pouring in. This is FALSE.

Some things you should know about launching Text-to-Donate campaigns if you are a nonprofit:

  1. Small and new nonprofits cannot participate. Text-to-donate campaigns are essentially run by the mobile (wireless) carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc). All of them have a mandate that your nonprofit MUST have a minimum of $500,000 in revenue per year because they want to make sure it’s worth their time and effort. Also, you have to be a 501c3 in good standing and in existence for a minimum of one year to be considered.
  2. Your Liaison. There are two organizations who act as the liaison between the wireless carrier and your nonprofit. mGive Foundation and Mobile Giving Foundation (MGF) have contracts with most wireless providers and for a small fee, vet all nonprofits and their mobile campaigns.
  3. Your ASP provider. In order to get a text-to-donate campaign up and running, you need a mobile app built. MFG for example, has to approve the application service provider which is part of the campaign process. Which also costs more money.
  4. You need to have a list of phone numbers. No one gives you a donor mobile list, you have to provide one. Of course, you can always buy one, but that probably wouldn’t be too successful because you don’t have a relationship with those people.

However, that’s not the end of the world. You could also go an alternative route with PayPal’s mobile giving site,  m.paypal.com. In order to take advantage of this, your organization needs a PayPal account, your donor needs a PayPal account. The best? There are no fees if the money donated comes from a PayPal account. But if it comes from a credit card or a bank account outside of PayPal then it costs 2.9%+$0.30 USD for each transaction.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.