The other day I heard from my Chinese friends that now young people are sending red envelopes, lai see or hongbao, that contains a small monetary gift giving during the Chinese New Year through WeChat. One news source says 8 million envelopes were sent in 2016. For Gen Z and Millenials, emoji with virtual currency means more than a physical envelope stuffed with coins.
As digital banking and digital currency become a new financial norm worldwide, sending money through text swiftly became popular among early adopters. Or by simply looking at the Uber’s example, you’ll understand how people appreciate the smooth digital transaction after each ride (the same goes for Airbnb).
Text-to-Give to Text-to-Donate
Text-to-give was used to be available only through the service offered by Mobile Giving Foundation(In Canada, Mobile Giving Foundation Canada). They partner with wireless companies to allow a charity(through the Foundation) to charge a small amount of donation(up to $30) on the text sender’s phone bill.
However, only a handful of charities has been using this services (according to the Charity Village’s article). Why? Well, since donors can only send $10 to $20 dollars at a time, it’s hard for small to mid-size charities to raise a large sum of the money in this way. As well, the donation will be distributed to charities by the wireless companies, and it may take more than 90 days!
So it’s easy to see why we have now new text-to-donate services that eliminate the mobile carrier partnership(there are still some companies using Mobile Giving Foundation platform, such as mgive or Activistic). One of the major differences between the Mobile Giving Foundation’s text-to-give and other text-to-donate services is that text-to-donate services offer donors giving options and higher upper limit of donation amount. While the original text-to-give service only requires you to send just a text with a key word, most of the text-to-donate services send a text with a web link to an online donation page and prompt donors to register their donation and payment information. So while those new text-to-donate services give design flexibility to charities, they make the giving experience a bit cumbersome.
There so many text-to-donate services available that I can’t list all of them here, but some of the popular ones include BidPal, @Pay, and Mobile Cause. All those companies are basically SaaS(Software as a service) companies specialised in offering payment solutions for non-profits. Their platforms can offer fundraisers peace of mind when it comes to donation processing and donor communication (such as thank you messages or follow-up solicitations).
As those new online donation platforms create the foothold for online giving, you may think many donors are now moving from offline to online or mobile. Surprisingly, less than 10% of giving happens on online. The number is shockingly low given that it’s been 20 years since the first online giving began flowing into charity organisations.
So why charities need to flock around text-to-give?
Although the baby boomers still consist of the biggest donor group, charities need to cultivate younger generations and help them engage in philanthropy via platforms with which they are comfortable. Also, there are huge opportunities for charities to benefit from the mobile shift and current financial technologies (Fin-tech) that make mobile giving easier and more convenient. Text-to-donate is just one way to engage with your donors on mobile. Depending on your audience and the type of your campaign, your organization needs to incorporating a text-to-donate option into your multichannel annual giving communication mix.
If you are interested in mobile giving, you can learn the best practices from my previous post here.