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Mobile giving: Where does social media fit in?

3 min read

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The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week is once again proving the mobile phone has become a viable tool in raising funds to support relief efforts. Millions of dollars were raised via text to aid people following last year’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, and the response to the disaster in Japan is on the same track. To sort out this growing trend and to figure out where social media can play a role, SmartBrief’s Susan Rush turned to Jenifer Snyder, executive director of The mGive Foundation, which helps nonprofits execute mobile giving campaigns.

Why is mobile becoming such a force for people to help during disasters?

The Haiti disaster was really the tipping point in the evolution of mobile donations. Mobile provides a convenient, quick, easy and accessible way for people to donate in small and large increments alike. The technology can connect people on a global scale by engaging them in relief efforts, rather than sitting passively on the sidelines.

We anticipate a significant increase in the next two years in the number of nonprofits looking to harness the power of mobile giving.

What are the projections for monies raised for the relief effort in Japan? What were the totals for Haiti?

We raised $41 million of the total $49 million for the Haiti Relief effort. Approximately 15% to 20% of donations designated for Haiti Disaster Relief were received via text. We anticipate the same rate for the Tsunami Relief campaigns.

How do you see the mobile-giving trend evolving?

Mobile donations are an effective fundraising tool that can be used as part of a larger multi-channel donor acquisition strategy. In a recent survey, we found that mobile donations serve as a great complement to more traditional giving channels such as direct mail, e-mail and online giving. As a result, mobile will become a more holistic and robust tool within each charity’s overall fundraising and engagement campaigns. Some examples include:

  • Text donations
  • Text communication
  • Texts driving traditional outreach and e-mail campaigns
  • E-mails driving text campaigns and gifts
  • Volunteer opportunities and scheduling through texts
  • Increasing attendance at events through text
  • More compelling ways to thank donors and volunteers leading to greater retention of these critical folks
  • Increased participation and outreach to millennials through text

What role does social media play in the mobile-giving effort?
Social media is a way to promote text campaigns and text campaigns are a way to monetize social networking efforts. In a recent study that we did, results indicated that 41% of text donors learned about, or were motivated to give, via text though a social networking call to action. This is a key marketing channel that cannot be ignored.

Looking to help? Here’s a list of a few organizations and their short codes:

  • Convoy of Hope: Text TSUNAMI to 50555. Donation amount: $10
  • American Red Cross Relief: Text REDCROSS to 90999. Donation amount: $10
  • World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals: Text WAVE to 50555
  • GlobalGiving; Text JAPAN to 50555. Donation amount: $10
  • Operation Blessing International: Text BLESS to 50555. Donation amount: $10
  • Project HOPE: Text HEALTH to 90999. Donation amount: $10