Digital comment: Charities are failing to deliver on the potential of text donations

Mobile is becoming more and more important for donations but charities are still not making the most of it, writes CEO of Fonix, Rob Weisz

Rob Weisz
Rob Weisz

When it comes to generating donations, mobile is without a doubt the most ubiquitous, frictionless and convenient way for consumers to give money.

Thanks to the proactive work of the UK mobile network operators, registered charities now receive 100 per cent of every text donation they receive. So why aren’t more people giving via mobile.

For charities which do offer a text mechanic it is only likely to make-up between 10-15 per cent of their donation revenue. Compare this to the broadcast sector where up to 80 per cent of competition entries or votes come via mobile and it becomes clear that charities are failing to unlock the full potential of mobile.

The reason for this is two-fold.  Firstly, many charities believe that text donations will cannibalise their regular credit-card donations, but this just isn’t true. Mobile actually opens up new revenue streams, allowing charities to tap the casual donors who wouldn’t have donated if it meant lifting the phone or logging-on.

Then there’s the damage to consumer confidence, caused by subjecting text donors to too many unwelcome, pushy calls, trying to squeeze more money out of them through other payment methods such as credit card subscriptions. As a result, donors increasingly want to be as distant as possible from the charities they support, which can only impact future revenue potential.

Maximising donations through mobile

Because the mobile phone is such a personal device, charities need to approach mobile CRM with extreme caution, as irrelevant or unwelcome messages can have a seriously negative impact.

With any mobile CRM campaign, you have to have an understanding that your database isn’t just a list of mobile numbers but a list of people, each at a different stage in their giving cycle. Therefore, any messaging must be tailored and personal to generate the best response.

When someone decides to give via mobile, it is usually because they don’t want to speak to anyone directly, so it’s good practice to continue to engage with them using the medium which they’re comfortable with.

Mobile CRM starts the moment a consumer donates, so always make sure you send a thank you message, also containing an invitation to give Gift Aid.  Subsequent messages should always aim to deliver good news about the charity and how donations are being used, but always with a call to action.  Typically, this would be a request to sign-up for regular credit-card based donations or to give another one-off amount.

Because every donor is different you have to create data sub-subsets. A good start is to tag people based on their donation amount and frequency. It’s really important that you think long and hard about what kind of communication each donor type would want and develop a messaging strategy accordingly.

Someone who donated once probably won’t appreciate lots of messages asking them to make regular donations, but a message about the charity’s good work may encourage them to make another one off donation.  Too often charities focus on trying to get frequent donors to give more, but its important to look at your entire span of donors as each will respond to a different approach.

Despite the misguided fears over text donations, mobile is becoming more and more important for charities using it. In addition, for the last two years running Children in Need has broken its mobile donation volumes on the previous year, so isn’t it time your charity got the message about mobile?

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