September 14, 2010

7 ways for nonprofits to use mobile phones to raise funds

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Tips for putting together a well-planned mobile fundraising strategy

ben_rigbyGuest post by Ben Rigby
Co-founder, The Extraordinaries

If you’re like most people working at a nonprofit, you probably had a “Holy Mobile!” moment in January 2010 when an outpouring of donations followed the devastating Haiti quake. This, you expected.

But what you may not have anticipated was that $41 million of these dollars flowed through mobile phones via “premium text messages.” The Red Cross received 4.1 million messages valued at $10 each, 95 percent of which were from first-time donors.

There’s never been a better time to start a mobile campaign.

You breathed in … hard. Did you miss mobile? Where did all of these donors come from? Did a fantastic fund-raising opportunity pass you by? How do you jump on the bandwagon?

If any of these thoughts raced through your head last January — or if any are racing now — not to worry. Mobile giving is just about five years young. There’s plenty of time to put together a thoughtful mobile fundraising strategy.

Best of all, many of the kinks have been worked out. There’s never been a better time to start a mobile campaign.

How does it work?

As it turns out, the Red Cross used just one of several common methods to generate revenue from mobile phone owners. These methods are:

  1. Text message donations
  2. Text to voice donations
  3. Text message warmers
  4. Mobile Web site donations
  5. App sales
  6. In-app sales
  7. Sponsored apps

Text message donations

1Using this simple method, your nonprofit advertises the availability of your designated fundraising phone number to potential donors. Donors send a text message to this number indicating that they would like to donate. Voila! Your nonprofit receives a check in the mail 30 to 90 days later.

This is precisely the kind of mobile fundraising campaign run by the Red Cross in support of Haiti. Hundreds of nonprofits around the U.S. — and around the world — are running and have run similar campaigns with great success.

There are some gotchas, processing fees and common frustrations, but overall, setting up and operating a text message donation campaign is a fantastic way to reach donors at the moment of inspiration. Mobile Active, the excellent and definitive source for all things mobile, has an exhaustive writeup covering the details of setting up and operating a text message donation campaign. Continue reading