FUNDRAISING NEWS: Charities call on mobile firms to waive charges

ANNIE KELLY

Charities including Marie Curie and NSPCC are joining forces with wireless fundraising company Mdonate to press mobile phone operators to drop transaction charges for donations.

Mdonate's technology allows charities to send fundraising text messages to supporters, who can donate money by hitting "reply". The amount is then added to their mobile phone bill at the end of the month.

At present, supporters can give up to £1.50 and Mdonate claims that the phone operators currently grab up to 40p per transaction making a "pure profit

from every donation made to charity.

"All phone operators are currently proving reluctant to change a system that usually enables them to make large amounts of money from commercial companies,

said Luke Brynley-Jones, head of business development at Mdonate. "We're hoping to persuade operators to cut their transaction charges and make this a viable fundraising stream for many of the UK's biggest charities."

Brynley-Jones expressed doubts over the future of the system if the operators refused to drop their tariffs, as the company would be unable to cover operational costs.

"We're developing the system to allow people to give up to £10 through their phones, but at the current level, the transaction charges will mean that only a fraction of the money actually gets to the charity so we're having problems launching the system,

said Brynley-Jones.

"Mdonate will continue to work with charities to try to get these companies to reduce their tariffs, but we've realistically given ourselves six months to make it work. However, we believe that mobile fundraising has a real future in the sector."

He states that while Mdonate has already signed contracts with charities including The Samaritans, many organisations are unwilling to sign up to the system until transaction charges are reduced.

Mdonate will meet with Orange, O2, Vodafone and T-Mobile over the next month, and hopes that letters of support from over 15 charities will persuade the operators that there is sufficient demand for the service.

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