Random Thoughts on Life and Work

August 28, 2006

Beyond Telemarketing

Filed under: Charities,Charity,Donations — Darren Mullenix @ 8:45 am

The following is an article pulled from an e-newsletter that I receive from a friend and former associate.  What is particularly interesting about this perspective is the new paradigms that technology is bringing to the fundraising/development arena.  Please enjoy.

SMS Fundraising:  Could it get any easier?

What is it?

It’s not SOS, but SMS (Short Message Service), that is a relevant acronym to modern, tecnologically-accustomed donors.  On the day of Live 8, 26.4 million people worldwide sent a text message calling for an end to world poverty.  Following the tsunami, TV and radio ads all over the world invited people to send a text message which would cost more than a regular message and count as a donation towards the relief efforts.  Many charities have stepped into this area, from the Red Cross to ‘Help a London Child’, utilising this easy, quick and cheap method of tapping our philanthropic inclination.

Who might use it?

Everyone who’s anyone has got a mobile phone, right?

Mobile phone owndership continues to grow, and is now edging the saturation point in many areas.  Among 11 to 16-year-olds, future young donors, the proliferation is even greater.


  • The mobile phone is usually close at hand.
  • Texting is easy, simple and familiar for most mobile phone owners, especially young people.
  • It’s significantly less hassle than writing a cheque or giving your credit card details.
  • It’s an easy way to collect donations from crowds, for example, at large events like Spring Harvest, at concerts or youth Bible weeks.
  • As donations are usually small, it avoids arousing displeasure of being asked to support ‘yet another’ charitable cause (some people’s bugbear).

 . . . and Cons

  • The ROI for the donor on a text message currently seems to be around 60-70%.  One company which sets up SMS services for charities pays the charity £2.06 from a £3 donation.  The reason is that texts are treated as other Premium services for tax purposes (not as much a factor in the US).  This status may change in the future.

Is SMS fundraising good for your organization?

The main consideration would be the nature of your mass donors – are they modern and mobile or tend to be conservative pensioners happy with their cheques and direct debits (EFT)?  If you host large gatherings or do a lot of promotions, SMS could be effective.

In short, its a donation channel which accesses new demographic segments through new media, bringing in funds you may not have tapped into otherwise.  Try casting your net.

By Jon Wright, McConkey/Johnston International UK Associate

I hope you find the article interesting and helpful.  It does provide a new perspective and a new channel into a demographic that many non-profits are finding difficult to reach.

Just a thought.



  1. Great post! What kind of donor information can be captured through SMS donations? Also, How would/does this work for varying gift amounts? Do you have examples of SMS donations being done in the U.S., or just in Europe?

    Comment by dk — August 29, 2006 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  2. Sounds like a great idea unless this kind of mistake happens:


    Comment by a fundraiser — November 13, 2006 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

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