Fundraisers deterred by the cost of text campaigns

Think tank nfpSynergy says just 30 per cent of charities try to raise money using mobile technology

Not-for-profit think tank nfpSynergy is stepping up its lobbying of mobile phone companies about their charges on charitable donations after research revealed that nearly three-quarters of charities avoid using the medium because of the cost.

The think tank's report How Are Charities Using Text Messages and Mobile Phones?, due out on 20 May, will show that 72 per cent of charities see mobile phone company charges on text donations as a barrier to fundraising. The report will show that 78 per cent of the 50 charities questioned collect mobile phone numbers from their contacts to store in their database, and 71 per cent recognise the potential of using mobile phones, but only 30 per cent try to get donations through text.

The report will say that the typical charge of 50p or 60p from operators on a £1.50 donation is a "massive loss" to charities and dissuades donors from giving. Earlier research by nfpSynergy showed that 58 per cent of the public were put off text donations by mobile phone operators' charges.

"It appears corrupt that this amount of money is taken by mobile phone operators from a donation to not-for-profit organisations," the report says. "Members of the public think badly of charities that ask people to donate in this way, knowing that there is such a large charge."

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said he was in talks with mobile phone companies about lowering their charges on charitable donations and hoped industry representatives would attend the launch of the report.

Worries about the charges were also preventing charities from using texting for other purposes, said Saxton.

"Charities could use texts to raise awareness of new campaigns and create wallpapers and ringtones as branding tools," he said. "But they're too easily put off by the thought of charges that apply only to donations. A lot of fundraising departments have online campaign specialists; they should appoint texting champions to come up with new campaign strategies."

- 70% of charities have not tried fundraising by text message

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