Nonprofits ask for mobile gifts

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Charities are attempting to raise money through mobile marketing and by partnering with celebrities.
Charities are attempting to raise money through mobile marketing and by partnering with celebrities.

Charitable giving is getting a boost from mobile marketing, as nonprofit organizations and brands trying to raise money are utilizing the platform's immediacy and direct response.

Nonprofit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), for instance, launched a 10-day mobile giving campaign August 16, partnering with soccer star Landon Donovan to raise money for blood cancer research and patient services.

Todd Whitley, VP of eMarketing at LLS, said that a benefit of using mobile is that it is very immediate. “It's [also] a great way to get in front of audiences that are maybe not closely aligned to you,” he said.

Data collection is also a part of the organization's effort. “We'll be following up with those who opt in through mobile to collect their e-mail addresses to retarget to them later on,” said Whitley.

Office supply chain Staples also unveiled a text-to-donate program in mid-July. The company is now in the third year of a partnership with Do Something 101, a nonprofit that urges young consumers to support causes they are interested in. When consumers text the word “notebook” to a designated code, a $5 donation will be made instantly to Do Something 101. Funds will be distributed to beneficiary organizations from there.

Jim Manis, president and CEO of the Mobile Giving Foundation, said his organization has seen growth from zero to more than $50 million in donations since it launched in 2008, spurred by catastrophic events like the January earthquake in Haiti.

While LLS' Whitley noted his organization wants to reach a younger demographic through the 10-day challenge, Manis said mobile giving spans many demographics. “The younger demographics use mobile because of the immediacy of it. An older demographic uses mobile for the privacy aspect. There are a lot of [parents] that use mobile because they know it's secured, and they also know they are not going to get junk mailed as a result of making a donation.”

Michael Becker, managing director for North America at the Mobile Marketing Association, emphasized that the adoption of smartphones for charitable giving will open up additional possibilities, such as credit card billing through the mobile web or applications.

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