In the midst of of what many have termed “Philanthropy 2.0,” where nonprofits are harnessing the power of the web to generate awareness and support for their causes, a UK-based mobile services company called mCharity launched to help charities raise new donation revenue, market to potential donors and communicate with existing supporters and fundraisers using mobile technology. With consumers more wired via mobile devices than ever before, and the ability to geo-target and pinpoint consumer touch points using location-based services, it seems a natural segue for charities to go mobile in reaching and retaining new supporters.
Currently, mCharity offers services that integrate seamlessly with nonprofits’ existing communications plans, allowing them to tie in promotions for text giving along with their normal print, radio and TV campaigns. The process works much like current text-based services where the donor sends a text message to a special SMS short code number, the donation is included on the user’s phone bill and mCharity collects the money from mobile companies, which it hands over to the charity. As the technology matures, services like this may also aid linking consumers with local volunteer opportunities or facilitating donations through mobile purchasing at popular online retailers. But until then, mCharity, the first dedicated mobile service provider and aggregator 100% focused on enabling UK charities to generate new revenue, is transforming text-based giving, and helping to create a marketplace where change is only a few thumbstrokes away.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
Any organisation that has a profit mentality but at its core has an agreed constitution to deliver a positive social goal. That goal can be informational or financial.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
UK registered charities register with mCharity. mCharity provides an SMS “shortcode” 5-digit SMS number and a keyword. The charity markets the shortcode as an alternative, simple, spontaneous method of donating to the charity. mCharity collects the donations from the donors’ mobile phone account and provides the donation directly to the charity.
mCharity is 100% about generating donation income for registered charities and providing them the best mobile marketing and communication tools. mCharity does not provide mobile services for anyone else other than UK registered charities at this time.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
For us, the customers are the UK registered charities and the fundraisers who promote the text messaging donation method through their charity fundraising campaigns, so they manage that communication at the individual level.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
I am not sure I do. I think that possibly philanthropy should be a separate entity. If individuals are successful in a particular business field then they should set up other successful philanthropic enterprises, with the same passion, ambition, focus on profit/efficiency as their purely for-profit organisations.
I think its very difficult for organisations to balance cash generation and philanthropy in the same business; yes corporate social responsibility, yes allowing staff the time to be involved in social and philanthropic activities but not sure a whole division devoted to using the same resources that are required to run the for-profit operation.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
Focus. Applying the same skills as used in the “normal” business environment but applying to philanthropic activities. It cannot be a “pet project.” It must have the same performance levels expected of the business endeavor. Finding, sharing and discussing these social ideas with like-minded individuals who want to make the same changes to the world as you do.
Name: Chris Book