Consultation launched on text donation code after charities try out changes

Monthly 'stop' reminders could be extended to every three months, with a 'skip' function allowing a donor to miss a month's payment

Text message donations
Text message donations

The body that regulates premium-rate phone services is consulting on plans it believes will help charities raise more money through regular text donations.

PhonepayPlus, an agency of the communications watchdog Ofcom, has been working with three charities to test changes to its code of practice that they say would make regular giving through mobile phones easier for charities and donors.

Under the regulator’s existing rules, donors have to be reminded each month that they can text "stop" to end payments. PhonedayPlus plans to replace this with a requirement for charities to remind donors every three months.

The charities involved in the pilot – Unicef, Save the Children and Toybox, which supports street children in Latin America – also trialled the use of a "skip" function.

This allows those signed up to text donation services to text "skip" to miss a month’s payment, without stopping their ongoing donation.

It was trialled because charities were reporting a high opt-out rate after sending out the monthly stop reminders, the regulator said.

PhonepayPlus also plans to end a requirement for charities to seek its permission to operate any service where the donation exceeds £4.50 in any given seven-day period. This would, it said, make it easier for charities to set up regular text donation services.

A consultation on the proposals was launched yesterday. It closes on 12 December.

Patrick Guthrie, director of strategy and communications at PhonepayPlus, said: "Text donation is rapidly growing as a quick and easy way for people to give to causes they care about.

"We have been working to help charities make the most of the potential of text donation, while ensuring that donors have simple, clear control over what they donate."

Research carried out by the marketing agency The Think Tank on behalf of the regulator in 2012 predicted that text donations could raise as much as £150m a year for charities by 2015. Donations by text message increased from £35.7m in 2011 to £66.1m last year.

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