Fundraising: Sector giants get the 'text' message

Three major charities have launched text message campaigns, providing further evidence of the voluntary sector's growing confidence in mobile phone fundraising.

The campaigns, launched by ActionAid, the RNLI and Oxfam, are expected to prove particularly effective in recruiting younger donors.

ActionAid has incorporated text response into its TV advertising campaign in June, which encourages people to sponsor a child.

Prospective donors are invited to text "sponsor" to the charity, which then calls them back to set up monthly donations.

The technology, which is supplied by mobile response company TXT4, enables a round-the-clock service to interested donors.

Following a successful pilot last year, the RNLI is now using text messaging on beaches in the south of England to raise funds for its lifeguard service.

The charity is distributing promotional car stickers at coastal resorts that invite people to enter a SMS competition to win a surfboard by sending 'beach' to 81505.

After texting, entrants receive an acknowledgement text that requests a £2 donation. The campaign aims to target young people and families aged between 25 and 40, an age bracket that RNLI marketing co-ordinator Annabelle Hobson said the charity had not really communicated with before.

Oxfam, meanwhile, is using text messaging for its Big Noise global petition, which is currently campaigning for worldwide fair trade at a series of Coldplay concerts across Europe.

An Institute of Fundraising spokesman said texting had the potential to become a huge fundraising tool and that, after the Live 8 ticket lottery, it was in discussions with mobile phone operators to negotiate a fairer pricing structure for charities.

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