There will be more mobile phones than people in the UK in 2007, and reports say more than 50 per cent of children and even 30 per cent of the over-80s already own them. So it's not surprising that SMS (which stands for 'short message service') is emerging as a fundraising tool.
SMS text giving is simple. It is ideal for collecting small sums and could replace the ubiquitous collecting bucket at events. It is particularly good for younger audiences.
It works as follows. The donor texts a keyword (supplied by the service provider) to a four- or five-digit 'shortcode' that appears on the charity's posters and fliers. The donor receives a return message that triggers a deduction from their phone account or pay-as-you-go credit balance.
Donors can also give regular gifts via their mobiles: the service supplier sends a message to their phone at set intervals to trigger a regular donation, usually £1.50 on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
Comic Relief tried it back in 2002, asking people to sign up in the run-up to Sport Relief. It raised 1 per cent of its £10m by SMS. Since then Cafod, Macmillan Cancer Support and many others have used the idea.
The biggest cost with SMS is the network charge, typically about 30 per cent of the total. Gifts below £1 suffer a higher percentage network revenue share, while sums of £1.50 and above fare better.
Depending on the space and the marketing tool, it is worth offering the choice of one-off donation bands of £1.50, £3 or £5 and monthly subscription donations of £1.50 or £3. Gift Aid can be collected through a web link or a WAP page form.
SMS text giving is clearly an add-on to our regular fundraising tools, but certainly one worth considering nowadays, especially with the young and mobile.