4 Ways to Raise Cash for Charity Through Mobile Phones

If you’re launching a fundraising campaign for a nonprofit group, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to donate. They shouldn’t have to write and mail checks, or wait until they’re in front of a computer again, to support your cause. Instead, give them the option of contributing instantly through their mobile phones. Here are a few ways to do just that.

  1. money in the handsText-message donations. Text-message donations, in which mobile phone users text a designated number to donate a preset amount ($10 maximum), can be tremendously effective. Last year, the Red Cross raised more than $8 million for earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti via text messaging. To start a text-message donation campaign, you’ll need to sign up with a service provider, such as MGive. Note that these services tend to be expensive: MGive charges a $500 setup fee plus $399 per month for its lowest program level. Unless your nonprofit has substantial revenues already, this option may not be cost-effective.
  2. Mobile web donations and pledges. Create a mobile version of your website that includes a big “donate now” button to encourage people to give. Of course, this isn’t as convenient as text messaging, because it requires donors to enter credit card information. To make things easier, consider providing the option to “pledge” money: Supporters provide you with their mobile phone numbers and gift amounts, and someone from your organization follows up later to collect the funds. Mobile pledges are a particularly good option for live fundraising events, because you can display the incoming pledge amounts on a TV or other display at the event to encourage others to match existing gifts.
  3. QR code donations. QR codes — scannable bar codes that can lead mobile phone users to a particular webpage or activate phone functions — are hot in the marketing world. Nonprofits are beginning to get in on the action, too: City Harvest recently created a QR code marketing campaign that leads mobile users to its website, where they can make a donation online (or via phone). If you’re planning to advertise in print magazines or phone kiosks, including a QR code can instantly direct mobile users to your fundraising efforts.
  4. Phone donations. Yes, smartphones have all sorts of functionality, but don’t forget that these popular devices are still used for talking. Give your supporters a 1-800 number they can call to make donations. Make sure you have staff members or volunteers to answer their calls at all times, or use an automated system to collect donors’ credit card details and personal information.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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