Why You Should Ignore Mobile Giving
I get a lot of questions about hot new things like Twitter (which isn’t that new, but people are still figuring out what to do with it), QR codes, etc.
One of my favorites is mobile. And for many of us, we think specifically about mobile giving.
How it works
You send a text message to a non-profit and it makes a $5 or $10 donation. The donation is processed by your cell phone company, who then pays out to the non-profit.
The good and the bad
The biggest and best example is the Red Cross Haiti disaster and their success in raising $30 million from SMS donations (in case you were wondering, SMS is the term for text messaging).
But as many have pointed out, the Red Cross is a special case. We’re not the Red Cross. They had Michelle Obama advocating for them. They had national campaigns. And frankly, they raised more through the usual online donation system.
First, you’ve got $5 or $10 limits per donation. These are imposed by the mobile providers. Next, the donations sit with the company until a quarterly check is made out to the non-profit. So you have a delay before you get paid. Finally, there are often limits to how many donations a person can make per month.
I don’t know about you, but $5 or $10 isn’t a lot of money – even for a first time donor. So a major worry many of us have is that the SMS donation will cost us a larger gift that might have come in otherwise.
The New York Times wrote about the rush to set up mobile giving programs, and one group came to the same conclusion I did: “there are still too many barriers to doing successful cellphone fund-raising.”
If some of the rules change, we should look at it again. But for now, it’s just another shiny object to distract us from our fundraising fundamentals – communicating our mission, building relationships, and helping donors understand how best to support us.