publication date: Dec 17, 2012
author/source: Katherine Winchester
This article concludes a
two-part series adapted from a presentation given at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Greater Toronto Chapter)
Congress 2012 in November. Read Part 1 here.
every new success, we continue to see challenges and missed opportunities. Many
of these challenges center around three main topics:
many charities struggle to connect text donors to their cause and vice versa.
The challenge lies in crafting a message to potential text donors that is
personal, relevant, and meaningful, and one that actually elicits a response.
We also see a challenge in obtaining cross-departmental support to fully
integrate the text-to-donate aspect. Too often, not everyone within an
organization is on board with the text-to-donate program; too often there is a
misguided fear of cannibalization.
we continue to see challenges with building a strategy that fully incorporates
the text-to-donate channel. Approximately 30% of the charities running a
text-to-donate campaign in Canada do not have anything listed online regarding
the ability for supporters to donate by text. This is a missed opportunity.
many charities embark on a text-to-donate program without any plan or goal in
mind, and do so at the very last minute as an afterthought. Of course, these
are not the ideal circumstances and are far from conducive to high response
What are the steps that charities need to take prior to launching a
text-to-donate campaign, and how can we work to combat these challenges?
than anything, the purpose of the Mobile
Giving Foundation of Canada is to serve as a benefit to the charitable
sector. We are not successful unless charities are successful. For this reason,
I have put together a list of essential areas that all charities should
contemplate prior to launching a mobile giving program.
realistic expectation for how much you want to raise through text-to-donate
while considering the additional non-monetary value of engaging a new group of
supporters and potential donors to your cause. Your goal should also look at
gaining a return on your investment. Understanding the cost is critical.
a detailed plan of action and include variables that can be measured in
determining the success of achieving your goal.
- Internal support
plan to achieve the defined goal may involve other departments. It is critical
to gain the support of these groups prior to launching a text-to-donate
- Cross channel promotion
text-to-donate is just another vehicle for donating. With it comes a whole new
generation of donors. Promote the call to action across various channels to
gain the broadest reach wherever the eyes of your target audience are.
- Connecting the cause to the text-donor
an appropriate appeal to emotion means understanding who your text-donors
are and what they care about. Providing this along with a sense of
urgency helps to connect a text-donor to your cause. Quantifying how the
individual or sum of all individual donations will impact the cause only
strengthens this connection.
- External education
and provide an explanation of how the text-to-donate channel works: how the
donation is processed, where to get a receipt, how many times a donor can
donate through text per month.
In store for the future
is always looking towards the future of mobile and how this channel can be
leveraged for use by the charitable sector in a way that keeps Canadians
connected to the causes they care most about. It is currently exploring
opportunities in mobile games and applications that offer a higher degree of
interaction and donor engagement.
also working diligently to gain national coverage with the support of all wireless
service providers (WSPs) in Canada. And with them, it is seeking approval for
higher donation points at $20 and $25.
will continue to conduct and share annual research that is integral to
understanding the mobile channel, its applicability in the charitable arena,
and the motivations that turn mobile users into text donors.
How MGFC operates
WSPs have modified their systems to allow donations to be charged as tax-exempt
charitable gifts on donors' wireless bills or deducted from their prepaid
balance. WSPs do not take a portion of any donations, nor do they charge a
text-messaging fee for messages that complete donations. MGFC's role is to
maintain these existing relationships and to continue to build new ones with
WSPs that are not yet participating in mobile giving.
validates applicant charitable/qualified donee status to ensure the legitimacy
of organizations applying to offer mobile giving programs. It also controls
standardized messages related to the text-to-donate message flow, where it must
maintain compliance with all applicable guidelines regulating such
MGFC acts as the provisioning body for all text-to-donate campaigns in Canada;
once activated, it also tests new campaigns to ensure proper functionality. All
of this leads into its responsibility of tracking and reporting each pledged
donation for invoicing to the participating WSPs, and consolidating the
individual carrier payments for charity remittance.
registered charity itself, to which all text donations are made for the benefit
other charities, we enable donors to obtain a tax receipt from our online tool.
This allows donors to make text message donations throughout the year and
obtain a tax receipt at their preferred times.
addition to the above, MGFC provides support to all the participating
charities, carriers, and donors involved in text-to-donate. On their behalf it
conducts research and works to educate, promote and build awareness about the
mobile giving channel. Part of this includes responding to the feedback and
growing needs of the charitable sector it serves.
Winchester is the Administrator of the Mobile Giving Foundation, where she manages
day-to-day operations along with all major projects for text-to-donate
programs, and works to broaden the awareness of its applicable use in the