One of the fundraising techniques we are applying is mobile phone applications.

There is SMS or ‘text’ fundraising, where sending a text message to a specific appeal number results in a donation being made via your mobile phone bill. Here in the UK, SMS responses in support of the BBC’s Comic Relief events have raised millions of pounds over recent years. However, despite such high profile success, research from nfpSynergy in 2009 revealed that only a small proportion of the country’s charities had actually tested SMS as a fundraising mechanism. It is hoped that recent reductions in the charges imposed by the mobile networks, together with a growing awareness of how to implement such campaigns, will lead to a considerable growth in this in the future. SMS response options are also increasingly being used by UK charities on their DRTV commercials or outdoor advertising so potential donors indicate their interest via text message, leading to a rapid call back to take a donation. A technique that seems to work well.

For a charitable take on ‘check-in’ applications, take a look at CauseWorld. Described as ‘the first mobile application that lets you do good deeds simply by walking into a store’, CauseWorld users earn ‘karma points’ when they check in at participating stores and these can then be donated to specific causes. In turn, participating non-profits can then exchange points received for cash donated by participating corporates. Big brands already supporting CauseWorld, to the tune of some $1m, include Kraft Foods, Citi, and Proctor and Gamble.

A completely different use of smartphones for fundraising is offered by ‘Square’. This is basically a small (square) device that attaches to your phone via the headphone socket and enables you to take credit card transactions and validate them online, with SMS or email receipts generated automatically. Currently still in beta test in the US, it has already been used by several political campaigners and by the non-profit charity:water to take donations at events. Essentially turning a smartphone into a credit card-friendly electronic collection tin. How great is that!

Excerpts from Bryan Miller