The Future of Mobile Fundraising

It’s no secret: the world is a place filled with disaster and hardship. In order to mitigate the suffering of others, those of us who…

It’s no secret: the world is a place filled with disaster and hardship. In order to mitigate the suffering of others, those of us who are more fortunate need to step in and lend a hand, financially that is. The most prominent “quick fix” device for raising money over the last several decades, something that should continue as a major source of funds, has been corporate giving. Companies donate large sums of money in exchange for some sort of advertising opportunity. It has worked brilliantly. With regard to individual giving, however, a cycle of change will inevitably continue as new technology becomes available, and that’s exactly what’s happening right now.

Calling up on a land line or even a cell phone takes too much time and requires the employment of too many people. Enter, mobile fundraising, the most rapidly growing way of giving to a cause. The best case scenario is that the world is perfect and mobile giving plummets, but obviously that will never happen. Instead of calls during a telethon, in which one must give credit card information over the phone, so many fundraising efforts have started to utilize the ever popular text message. Why do people text so often nowadays? For a lot of us, we just don’t want to talk to the person on the other end of the line, but also because texting is quick and effortless. Organizations know this, and the effectiveness of solicitation through text message is staggering: while only about three percent of mobile customers receive texts from their top charities, over 70 percent find the issues represented to be of importance. At this point, 87 percent of Americans have gone mobile, and that number continues to rise. The smarter charities are bringing in funds through text, but there are seemingly very few of these organizations that recognize the opportunity. 87 percent of the population equals roughly 270 million mobile users, but of those people, just eight million are getting texts from charities asking for money. Clearly, we’re missing out on a boatload of potential donors.

It’s important to put the steep growth in mobile donations per year in perspective. In 2009, four million dollars were raised by tapping mobile phone customers. That number exploded over the course of the following year to a hefty fifty million. Keep in mind that this is with only three percent of people with cell phones being texted by charitable organizations. Now, after running some numbers, I can show more explicitly how much money these organizations could be missing out on by not utilizing text solicitation. For argument’s sake, let’s first assume that in 2010, all 71 percent of those people who found the charity texts to be important actually donated. That works out to be 5.75 million people that gave. With a total of $50 million given, the average donation is $8.70. Take a step back to look at the total American mobile users, 270 million. If 30 percent are asked for money through mobile methods (ten times as many) at a 71 percent success rate, total donations equate to $500 million. What an accomplishment that would be, and most encouraging is that it’s a possible, if not likely milestone.

Aiding the quantity of money donated by mobile customers is social media. Although some organizations collect mobile phone numbers on their websites, stockpiling a list of potential donors is much more effective if you convince them to initiate the process by texting something straight to the source. A response explaining the cause and donation procedures is given almost instantly, and people can send money by just adding it onto their monthly cell phone bill. What’s more is that an element of impulsiveness is created since these people don’t have time to talk themselves out of donating to the cause they just became so emotionally attached to. Social media plays such a large role because it encourages millions of people at once to get involved just by sending a text to X organization for Y cause.

It’s also no secret that people are generally stingy, but using certain techniques to gut them for donations can significantly raise how many people give, and how much they give. The numbers don’t lie. There’s an insane amount of room for growth in the mobile fundraising world, currently the most efficient and effective way of collecting money for a charitable cause. The onus is on the organizations to do a better job of collecting mobile numbers and tapping social media to encourage people to make the first move.

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