As little as four-fifths of money donated by text reaches good causes

Text Donation Campaign Group calls for charities to put pressure on mobile phone operators to reduce their cut

Costs are based on aggregators who do not make a charge for each text donation. Charities should check the costs of the aggregator they are working with. Rates have been rounded to the nearest penny. Source: Charities Aid Foundation
Costs are based on aggregators who do not make a charge for each text donation. Charities should check the costs of the aggregator they are working with. Rates have been rounded to the nearest penny. Source: Charities Aid Foundation

The proportion of money mobile phone operators pass on to charities from text donations varies between 80 and 95 per cent, new figures show.

Research by the Text Donation Campaign Group, a coalition supported by the Charities Aid Foundation and the Institute of Fundraising that lobbies for cuts in charges, reveals a disparity between the fees on donations of £1, £1.50, £3 and £5.

A £1 text donation through Three results in 95p going to charity, but only 80p of the same donation through T-Mobile reaches the good cause. T-Mobile passes on 90 per cent of £3 and £5 donations. Charities receive 90 per cent of money donated through O2, Orange and Vodafone, and 89 per cent from Virgin.

Operators have up to now waived charges for big charity campaigns such as Comic Relief and absorbed charges for charities supported by their corporate social responsibility strategies, but their fees have made it difficult for other charities to use text fundraising.

O2 lowered its fees last year, with Vodafone, Virgin and Orange making changes this year so that more of the money was passed on. On average, 91 per cent of a £5 text donation given through any major operator now reaches the recipient charity.

The campaign group's leader, Joe Saxton, estimated that good causes could raise £100m a year through text donations in five years' time.

He said it would be interesting to see whether charities publicised the percentage of donated money they received from each mobile operator, which could put pressure on providers with higher charges to lower their fees, or stated the least amount the good cause could receive from a text donation.

Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, called for a fixed fee. "For donors, it's really important to know that the majority of their money is going straight to the charity, not to the operators," she said.

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