How Does Mobile Giving Work?

Mobile giving is like the wild west of online fundraising. Nonprofits are still trying to understand much of what is being done in mobile giving. Some nonprofits are moving west and striking it rich, while others are having a hard time finding a place to start.

What is mobile giving? Basically a nonprofit provides its donors an option to give via text messaging by texting a specified keyword to a specified five or six digit number. When this keyword is sent, the cell phone companies send the designated gift amount to the nonprofit through the Mobile Giving Foundation or mGive Foundation.

The industry is run by two organizations, Mobile Giving Foundation and mGive. Mobile Giving Foundation pioneered mobile giving, delivering the platform to various nonprofits through Application Service Providers (ASPs). When they first began, one of these ASP’s was mGive which eventually broke out on its own. Both of these organizations have brokered a relationship with the majority of cell phone providers enabling text-to-give campaigns. If your nonprofit is considering doing a mobile campaign, you will contract with one of these organizations or their partners.

Nonprofits receive 100% of every donation ranging from $5 up to $30 depending on the designated amount. Additional information and acknowledgements are sent to each donor through outgoing text messages. Many of the providers have additional services that allow you to integrate other features to your campaigns such as website widgets or online giving.

The various ASP’s and mGive charge the nonprofits certain fees to use the platform. There are initial sign-up fees, a monthly campaign fee, and transaction fees for each gift. Nonprofits receive their donations in the form of a check 30 to 90 days after they receive a gift.


5 Responses to How Does Mobile Giving Work?

  1. Mobile computing is a force in our lives. I wonder if there has been any research from the donors’ point of view regarding why donors give by cell phones. What is their experience as mobile donors?

    Entering numeric codes for a text gift is an experience. Is it a good experience for the donor? Perhaps for some. Certainly, many will appreciate how fast and easy mobile giving is. Still. Some donors will be left wanting. What’s missing? Passion.

    Remember what is now an old adage about philanthropy being the mystical mingling of the joyful giver, artful asker, and grateful recipient? Hopefully we will continue to find ways to connect to the joy of giving even as we leverage new technology.

  2. I would remind organizations dreaming about generating lots of new donors using mobile giving that these donors will need attention too. Don’t forget to keep them informed about how you are doing and how their gifts make a difference. Since it’s easy to do, multiple gifts are easy to give…creating another segment of supporters to maintain some sort of relationship with. Even if it’s only an electronic relationship.

  3. Sandy Rees says:

    I’m so glad you’re digging into this topic Jason. There are lots of nonprofit organizations with questions about how this works and if it’s worth it.


  4. Pamela Grow says:

    Thanks for the posts on mobile giving Jason.

    Clearly text giving has worked in instances of disaster but what about the smaller community nonprofit? One simple method might be integrating text giving with an organization’s monthly giving plan. Imagine the ability to text a number and contribute $5, $10, or more every month to your favorite charity.

  5. Jim says:

    For higher education, giving via text isn’t quite there yet. There are some challenges that need to be addressed related to stewardship and the range of prospects with which schools work. Text giving is quick and easy, and there is usually a unique urgency involved. The long-term relationships inherent in alumni giving require a different approach but since it’s a tremendous market, the comapnies providing these services will get there.

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