Mar 08, 2010

More on Text-Message Based Fundraising

In my last post on text-message-based fundraising, I and the rest of the world were impressed by the American Red Cross having raised $9 million for Haitian relief efforts via mobile phone text messaging. That number has since gone up to $26 million -- even harder to ignore.

If there were any lingering doubts that this type of fundraising has caught the popular imagination, one need look no farther than the 2010 Oscars ceremony, at which the good folks accepting the award for best documentary, "The Cove," flashed a sign saying, "Text Dolphin to 44144." (You had to be watching closely, since the powers-that-be quickly moved the cameras in another direction -- with the predictable result that the moment is getting more media coverage and video linkings than it would have otherwise.)

But what's the bottom line -- has mobile text messaging (or "SMS") become, overnight, the hottest fundraising strategy around? The fees for nonprofit users are apparently trending downward as more providers enter the market, such as the Mobile Giving Foundation.

Nevertheless, a recent report called the "2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks" report concludes that, while text messaging can be an effective part of a communications mix with existing supporters that also includes email, the Web, and direct mail, it's main role for the moment will be to reinforce other messages and provide an immediate engagement opportunity in urgent situations.

In other words, if you're not responding to a widely known-about crisis like the Haiti earthquake, don't start counting your millions just yet. But start collecting your supporters' mobile phone numbers, just in case.