How Texting is Changing the Way We Donate

It’s a simple fact of life that technology changes the way we do things, and technology is changing the way we give to charities. Haitian relief efforts are a good example. The Red Cross raised over $30 million for Haiti after the earthquake through text donations by mid-February, over 10 percent of all funds raised. A recent survey, commissioned by the Boston marketing firm, Cone, discovered that thirteen percent of Americans made a text-message donation to Haitian relief efforts.

Almost one in five respondents to the survey, 19 percent, said they prefer to text a donation rather than giving it in a traditional way. Another 18 percent said they are more likely to contribute by sending a text message to their favorite charity.

The PBS show, NewsHour recently interviewed Stacy Palmer, the editor of “The Chronicle of Philanthropy.” When asked why more people are using their cell phones to give to charities, Palmer said, “One reason is that people are really comfortable doing text messages.” Palmer thinks that “every charity is going to be raising money this way.”

Palmer pointed out that “All these donations have been small donations, $10 or so. And Haiti is going to need a lot more.” She said that people will be asked to give again. “And, so, the charities are going to come back and solicit in lots of different ways and try to encourage people to give.”

Katrin Verclas, analyst at said about Haiti, “All the nonprofits woke up and are very keen on mobile giving after seeing the [Red Cross] rake it in.”

According to a study “2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks” by M+R Strategic Services and, 90 percent of Americans own cell phone. “The Haiti earthquake marked a turning point in mobile giving,” the study said. “It showed that text messaging can be a far-reaching tool for immediate engagement.”

The study said that texting is well suited for call-in-alerts about donation needs, but also has “substantial limitations” which includes the 160-character limit that “leaves little space to make a case for giving or taking action.

Although the study argued that it is “potentially risky” to solicit donations through text messages from active donors who are likely to give more through another means, it urged that text messages be used along side other channels such as email, web, direct mail, and phone calls

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

4 responses

  1. Iconosys, Inc. Launches SMS ReplierTM for Smartphone Safety

    Life-Saving Mobile Phone App Solves the Safety Problem of Texting While Driving (TWD)

    ORANGE COUNTY, CA–(Marketwire – April 7, 2010) – Texting while driving (TWD) continues to be one of the most dangerous threats on our nation's freeways, yet at any given time, over 800,000 people are engaged in this practice. Despite high-profile campaigns to discourage the practice, including Oprah Winfrey's “No Phone Zone” pledge drive which has attracted and signed nearly 2,000,000 pledgers, TWD continues to cause untold damage on our nation's (and the world's) roadways. According to the National Health Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA), distracted driving practices, including texting or reading emails while driving, accounted for approximately 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries in 2008 alone.

    Check them out on their website ( or their twitter!

  2. Pingback: Non-Profit Succeeds with Mobile Technology « Rebecca McCabe

Leave a Reply