Driving home today I was listening to a talk radio station and they were doing an interview with someone from Centraide, a charity (affiliated with The United Way) that collects money for dozens of organizations in the Montreal/Quebec area. Centraide does a lot of good around here.
The interview was about a very cool, new way to donate money: by text message.
Centraide just launched the program today. You can donate $1, $2 or $5 via text message. Text the word give to the number 191919. You get a quick text message back that asks you to input the dollar amount. Send that back and you’re done; your next phone bill will show the charge.
The Centraide representative said it was an experiment in getting younger people to donate money. The amounts are very small and young people are heavily into text messaging. If Centraide gets the word out enough, they hope it will result in a positive return.
To me this is a an awesome example of how technology helps.
I’m not really into text messaging (maybe I’m a generation too old to really get it), but every single charity should use this. It’s almost impossible to remember phone numbers or website addresses while listening to the radio (or watching TV). And even if you do remember, I bet most people think to themselves, “I should donate to that cause…” and then it slips their mind later.
Text messaging can make the process much faster. It removes a barrier to donating, a barrier to making a decision. Make it easy enough for people and they will participate.
In a couple of minutes I donated my $5. I may do it again just cause it’s so fun. There’s something gratifying for the person sending the donation; your cellphone dings and a message comes up immediately, “Thank you for the donation.” Instant gratification is very cool.
I’d love to know how much it cost Centraide to setup the program. They’re a big charity; so I wonder if smaller charities could afford to implement text messaging donations. If it’s too expensive, someone should make it less expensive for charities to benefit from.
Quick note: A bit of digging on Google brought up some interesting resources:
- Increasing Your SMS Donation Revenue? is a good article covering some details about setting up text messaging donation systems. It’s a good way to get informed on the subject.
- Mobile Accord offers a service to non-profits called mGive for taking donations via text message. (No indication of what it costs.)
Interestingly, it seems like a lot of the information / links I found quickly were from the U.K.
This is a subject I’m going to explore more. You have to love the idea that technology is not just there for fun and entertainment, but it can have a higher purpose. It can make a difference. It’s not just about watching whacky videos and downloading illegal music.
Good luck Centraide! I hope the campaign is a huge success!