While the mobile phone has been a channel for fundraising since 2000, with some early adopters including charities such as Unicef and the Red Cross’ Tsunami Relief in 2004, mobile fundraising is becoming more and more commonplace, making headlines and winning awards (like The Hyperfactory’s recent United Nations campaign, pictured).
Its popularity has been driven by charity organisations looking for a new channel to enable people to donate instantaneously by sending a simple text message. It can also be used as an exceptional marketing channel to raise awareness and drive donations.
Currently young people are not frequent charity donors, however when you enable them to donate by SMS they can be quite generous. There are more mobile owning youth (8–27 year-olds) on the planet than there are people on the internet and they are a more socially aware, time poor generation who are increasingly using services that are instantaneous and easy to use. Making it easy for this un-tapped generation to donate from their mobile phones opens up a huge revenue opportunity for charity organisations.
Fundraising can be executed through premium SMS. A premium number, or short code as is often referred to as AS, starts with 19 and is 8 characters long. The charge to the consumer is anything from 0.55 cents to $6.60 and includes a reply message, which could include a link through to the charities mobile site to give further information on the cause. The only limitation to this way of obtaining revenue is that Australian carriers take the lion’s share of the rebate garnered from the SMS of up to 48 per cent, making this an incredibly unfair and disheartening way of fundraising. This is not the case however in many other countries and by sharing this revenue equitably charities have been able to use premium SMS as a viable fundraising channel.
Raise awareness and drive donations
Charities are able to raise awareness and drive donations through mobile phone advertising. The Hyperfactory helped the New Zealand Red Cross with its efforts to help victims of the China Earthquake. Mobile banner ads were placed on various mobile sites (exactly like having ad banners on websites on the web) including The South China Post (Asia’s leading English language newspaper) and Vodafone Live! NZ, one of the main carriers in New Zealand. Once clicked on, the banners led through to a site detailing how people could instantly donate to the Red Cross China Earthquake Disaster relief.
Mobile banners yield great response
Banner advertisements on the mobile web are getting incredible response rates. We are seeing anything from 3–7 per cent response rates (web response rates are around 0.02 per cent) 10–20 per cent conversion rates, and with six times the Return on investment (ROI) on mobile promotions compared to other forms of advertising.
Mobile banners click through to mobile sites where you could have a PayPal mobile facility enabling people to donate over the handset. Through PayPal mobile, you can pay money through your mobile to the charity with the charity receiving a 98 per cent return on the donation amount. The ‘Text to Give’ campaign for the city of New Orleans rose just short of $1 million through PayPal mobile.
Embrace mobile Twitter
Another mobile tool, Twitter, may be utilised to converse with prospective donors and constituents. Twitter is a microblogging service that allows you to post text messages to the web. It has a 140 character limit per posting and you can ‘follow’ users as individuals or groups and they can ‘follow’ you too. There are currently about six million users with charities including Amnesty, Red Cross and Greenpeace, all ‘tweeting’ to their followers. Through its outreach on Twitter, Share our Strength was blogged on a prominent website where a $1,000 grant was matched by a reader, causing a ripple effect of funds and awareness.
Integrate for best results
Mobile marketing is extremely effective when integrated fully with all of your communications. Utilising the unique features of the mobile phone can provide an offering to consumers that will benefit their lives whilst increasing their social consciousness. Building relationships with donors, through reinforcing urgent and timely messages that have specific goals, can be highly effective. People are inquisitive and more socially aware than ever. Enabling them to engage with you through their mobile may just become the most effective channel for reaching your target audience.
Jennifer Hiley is a mobile marketing expert at the Hyperfactory.