March 9, 2012

Two mobile resources in words and pictures

Mobile World Congress. Photo: Ken Banks

Outtakes from Mobile World Congress & a community engagement event

kiwanjaLast week saw me start out at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and finish up at an event focusing on the use of text messaging in the nonprofit sector in London.

It was a busy week but two new resources were the end result.

Pictures. If you didn’t make it to Mobile World Congress then here’s a Flickr set of 111 free-to-use photos to give you a flavour of the event. Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest mobile exhibition and conference and features CEOs and representatives from mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from around the world. Continue reading

February 25, 2010

How are nonprofits using text messaging?

Organizations starting to use SMS as powerful tool for fund-raising

text-messagingKatrin VerclasWe’ve just released a new report, Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmark Study, that offers the first-ever look at how organizations in the United States are using text messaging and how subscribers are responding. It shows that mobile phones are becoming increasingly popular as an advocacy and fund-raising tool by organizations, and it provides benchmarks and metrics by which nonprofit organizations can measure their success with text messaging.

Co-authored by myself and Michael Amoruso and Jessica Bosanko of M+R Strategic Services, the free report also illustrates the various ways in which organizations are using text messaging. The study was sponsored by Mobile Commons and mGive.

The earthquakes in Haiti earlier this year showed the power of SMS as a tool for fund-raising (raising millions in just a few days), and it’s now clear that there’s an opportunity for nonprofits to tap into the mobile market to engage their supporters. As the study reports, there are currently over 276 million wireless users in the U.S., and during the first half of 2009, users sent about 740 billion text messages. The report breaks down not only how nonprofits can use SMS to interact with supporters but also releases statistics on how specific organizations fared with their SMS campaigns.

You might be interested in learning:

  • How nonprofits engage supporters through text messaging
  • The advantages and limitations of text messaging as a tool for engagement
  • How to evaluate the performance of a text message

Continue reading

January 26, 2010

SMS fundraising campaign for breast cancer

Beth KanterGiven the visible success of the Haiti text-to-give campaigns, SMS is bound to become one of the tools in an organization’s fundraising bag, if it isn’t already.

This week I heard about Drew Olanoff’s latest fundraising campaign, a text-to-give strategy on behalf of Boarding for Breast Cancer. Here’s how it works:

Every time someone texts “tp4bc” to 60611, the textPlus mobile address, textPlus will donate $1 to Boarding for Breast Cancer, a non-profit, youth-focused education, awareness, and fundraising foundation whose mission is to increase awareness about breast cancer, the importance of early detection and the value of an active lifestyle.

textPlus, a mobile app, offers users free texting with group text capability.  What’s cool is that Drew’s employer GOGII is the mobile app developer behind textPlus, a free group texting application available on the iPhone and Android platforms. Continue reading

January 4, 2010

Information into action: Africa and beyond

kiwanjaTwo organisations I’ve had the pleasure of working with – Tactical Tech and Fahamu – have independently announced the release of a film and a book that cover different aspects of non-profit digital activism. Both are well worth a look.

Info-activism.org, a Tactical Tech initiative, explores how rights advocates “use information and digital technology to create positive change.” Actions are broken down into 10 tactics that, through the site, provide original and artful ways for rights advocates to capture attention and communicate a cause (see video, above). The website includes a 50-minute film documenting inspiring info-activism stories from around the world and a set of cards, with tools tips and advice to help people plan their own info-activism campaigns. Further details of the launch are available on the BBC News website. Continue reading

April 23, 2009

How mobile is empowering consumers

Sea turtle - Photo courtesy Blue Ocean Institute

Photo courtesy Blue Ocean Institute

Katrin VerclasSensing is just one way in which mobiles are used in environmental protection. Another promising area is wildlife protection in sensitive areas where humans and animals collide, often to the detriment of protected animals.

In the Laikipia District in Kenya, the University of Cambridge conducted a project using mobile phones to protect and manage Kenya’s second largest elephant population, and the ecosystem they inhabit.  The goal was to alleviate human-elephant conflict between local farmers and the protected elephants.  The project used mobile phones for early warning of elephants approaching farmland by using ‘push-to-talk’ technologies, and GPS/GSM collars for the elephants, allowing wildlife personnel to intervene before elephant became a danger to farmers and vice versa.

Mobiles are especially useful for gathering and acting on just-in-time information. Imagine this scenario: A woman in Johannesburg, South Africa, stands at the fish counter in her local supermarket and texts the name of a fish to a phone number. Within seconds, she receives back information via a short text message informing her whether the fish is legally and environmentally harvested and advising her whether “to tuck in, think twice or avoid completely.”

The consumer is using FishMS, a text service of Sassi (The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) and the World Wildlife Fund to help consumers make informed choices about the seafood they purchase.

Continue reading

March 4, 2009

Chipping away at the SMS literacy barrier

kiwanjaWith all the excitement surrounding Monday’s launch of FrontlineForms, we almost forgot the other improvements we’ve made to the FrontlineSMS software. As well as support for IntelliSMS – another Clickatell-style online aggregator – we finally got round to adding Unicode support which, to the non-technical, means you can now send and receive messages in foreign scripts, i.e. non-Latin or non-Roman character sets. Projects in India and the Middle East have been asking for this, and it’s exciting to see it finally delivered (thanks Alex!).

FrontlineSMS Arabic

Although there are still very real literacy issues for SMS-based social mobile projects, at least allowing messages to be sent and received in the local language – assuming handset support is available – removes at least one more barrier. We’re excited to see how much this ends up being used, and what further opportunities it opens up for FrontlineSMS users around the world.