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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Texting Fundraising for Non-Profits? Not for Sissies.

Geoff Livingston reports today on non-profit fund-raising via texting that has become so high profile in wake of initial Haiti relief fund raising efforts. It has come up as possibilities in no fewer than 6 conversations around here, and is listed in documents related to the eventual establishment of the GuruTrack Foundation.

But like any effort worth the effort, getting donations via this delivery method is anything but simple.
Livingston writes:
Close examination of texting-based fundraising reveals a wide variety of barriers for 501c3s, including the use of mandatory foundations and ASPs (application service providers) to interact with carriers, a stringent vetting process to become accepted, limited donation amounts of $5-$10, limited short codes, and shared costs with partners (in some cases, the wireless carriers). Even after setting up text-based fundraising mechanisms, non-profits face the challenge of limited function integration, and appealing to donors.
Given the many aspects of texting, from technology to communications, non-profits need to consider SMS with their eyes wide open. Causes may even want to consider alternative mobile channels for communications and fundraising.

He goes on to point out 5 key areas to address, namely:


1. Texting Costs Non-Profits Money While all of the carriers and their non-profit texting partners waived fees for Haiti relief, most causes shouldn’t expect such treatment. Non-profits have to pay set up fees with wireless partners like mGive and the Mobile Giving Foundation, which can range from $3,000-$10,000 in some cases.

2. Non-profits Must Work with a Third Party
It’s not as simple as calling one of America’s big four carriers and setting up a short code. The wireless industry has set up approved third party vendors to vet non-profits. These third party players have stringent requirements to ensure causes meet state charitable solicitation registration requirements.

3. Limited Capabilities
Texting requires an event, such as a celebrity request, a concert, or unfortunately, a catastrophe to compel people to donate en masse. Repeated solicitations in general communications can repel potential donors. Further, other limitations include the ability to interact with texters and garner their contact information.

4. Integrating Texting Into the Larger Mix If discouraged by fundraising options, non-profits can use text messsages for other opportunities. While mobile applications are sexy, SMS marketing offers communications benefits, too. Non-profits can push URLs, facts and opportunities to parties who opt in to such lists. The sky (or organizational creativity) is the limit.

5. Other Options Exist There are more options than just texting for mobile. The great news about the mobile Internet revolution is the certain rise of non-profit applications on the iPhone, Android, and other platforms. If a non-profit wants to look at creating a mobile opportunity, general applications such as social good based The Extraordinaries offer powerful choices.

To see his entire (and very informative) article click here.
To learn more about the author, click here.

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