QUESTION: What are your thoughts on mobile donations via cell phones? Do you have any vendor recommendations for a startup non-profit like ours?
Peju New Jersey
ANSWER: Cell phone donations via text messaging have increased in popularity over the past five years, for sure. The Tsunami in December 2004 raised $200,000, Hurricane Katrina raised over $400,000 and in just the first day after the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 the Red Cross raised close to $4,000,000, all through cell phone text messages. But each of those were epic disasters of which donors didn’t necessarily know any of the massive number of people who were personally affected.
If your donor base is specific in size and geographic reach, text donations are not necessarily the best vehicle for a few reasons:
- It is not inexpensive to set up the system. At mGive, the set-up fee is $500, plus a minimum of $199/month plus $.35/transaction plus a 3.5% processing fee.
- It’s impersonal. You want to continue to engage your audience so they become more committed to your organization.
- It is minimal. By giving donors the option to make a nominal donation via the phone you may be leaving a larger donation on the table.
There are other ways to reach out to your donor base without taking a huge risk in producing a large-scale fundraising event. Here are a few recommendations:
- Social Media. By using social media, such as Facebook, to generate donations you are also creating a community so you have the opportunity to keep in touch with donors on an on-going basis.
- Giving Circles. Giving Circles are increasing in popularity, where participants pool their resources to give to a cause. There can be regular communication and the group does not have to be in-person.
- Vivanista offerings:
¨ Parties For A Purpose. These easy-to-implement parties offer super simple steps to create a low-overhead fun get-together that can be fun and educational.
¨ Fundraisers-In-A-Box. These programs are downloadable packages that an organization can use to implement one of Vivanista’s signature fundraising events.
Hope that helps!
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[Feature photo taken by Alain McLaughlin]