The Rainbow Network, a Springfield-based nonprofit established to combat poverty in Nicaragua, has started a fundraising campaign allowing contributors to donate using text messages. Here's how it works:
Cell phone customer sends a text message to charity's account to donate a specific amount.
Both the cell service provider and the charity document the contribution amount stated in the text message.
Cell service bills the customer on the next statement and makes the donation to the charity.
Nonprofits dial into texting for funds
Prompted by fundraising efforts following the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, at least two Springfield-based nonprofits have mobile fundraising campaigns in place.
That’s understandable. One of the organizations that processed the donations to help earthquake-stricken Haiti, mGive, recorded $37 million in donations pledged in three weeks alone earlier this year.
The Rainbow Network, which aims to raise $2 million annually to fight poverty in Nicaragua, and Convoy of Hope, which helps feed the hungry worldwide, are tapping into that technology with their own mobile fundraising campaigns that use text messaging. Most major cell phone service companies provide the service.
“The basic idea is people can, through a mobile device, make a gift to a charitable organization,” said Ryan Owen, U.S. director for The Rainbow Network, which established its text campaign in September. “Someone can text message to a particular number, sign up for $5 to, in this case, The Rainbow Network.”
Convoy started taking donations via text messages shortly after the Haiti earthquake.
Jeff Nene, Convoy of Hope senior director of communications and technology, said Convoy was taking donations just three weeks after the earthquake, but collections and participation fizzled to near nonexistence after the initial boom.
“It’s still in place, but the earthquake is old news now to the U.S. audience,” Nene said. Owen believes Rainbow Network’s campaign will be a success because of ease of donation, but he said the number of participants reached rather than dollars raised would determine its success. The goal is 2,000 participants.
“You don’t have to hand over your credit card information,” Owen said. “The other part is information, the way people access the Internet. The primary point of contact will not be a PC but a mobile device. We’re trying to get a jump start on that.”
Rainbow Network kicked off its campaign with a traveling art exhibit above Bistro Market Sept. 17 with artist Chase Heilman’s work attended by more than 150 people. The organization is promoting the campaign through advertisements on KOLR each week during “Survivor,” which is filmed this season in Nicaragua. Also, Facebook, e-mail and blog posts will be used to spread the word about the effort, and the nonprofit is exploring other advertising possibilities in print and local media, Owen said.
“We had no idea what to expect. It was more of a convenience to some donors more than something that we aggressively pushed,” Nene said. “We marketed it – we put a story on our Web page, and we had a couple niche markets that we promoted it to.” Neither nonprofit has a dollar goal for their mobile fundraising efforts.
Convoy likely will use text fundraising again for disaster response fundraising, but the bulk of its support comes from regular donors, Nene said.
“Those folks tend to give more either online, send a check or bank withdrawal,” Nene said. “We have (added texting) more as a service for people who wanted to do it that way.”
Owen said donor response to the Haiti earthquake proves people are comfortable giving money via mobile phones, but there was a disaster for people to respond to.
The giving process starts when a phone user texts a code to a predetermined number. Once received, the cellular phone service provider or a tracking company, such as mGive, records the donation, charges it to the cell phone users’ bill and makes the donation to the organization. Convoy is able to track donations with a secure online account, Nene said.
“I can check it at any time and get real-time reports at any time, donations made, to which campaign. You don’t receive specific donor information, but I can see the phone number from which the donation was made,” Nene said.
The tracking service used by Rainbow is the Mobile Giving Foundation, which is used by a number of nonprofits. Services cost a one-time setup fee of $1,000, Owen said.
“It does take a little longer than our other methods of raising money for the money to reach us,” Nene said. “But the ease of reaching a new audience we feel will make it worth it.” National nonprofits that have engaged in text message campaigns via mGive include American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, as well as Duke and Colorado State universities.[[In-content Ad]]
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.