Using Mobile Commons, in partnership with the Mobile Giving foundation, 501(c)3 non-profit organizations can accept charitable contributions via text messaging.

Mobile Commons has worked with numerous organizations on their text-to-give initiatives. We’ve helped groups like This American Life and Wikipedia attract tens of thousands of new donors. If you’re interested in Mobile Giving, we can help you create the most effective campaign possible.

How Mobile Giving Works

Mobile Giving works by asking users to text in to an approved short code in order to give to your organization. You specify whether you want people to donate $5 or $10. When users text in, an automated message confirms that they want to give money to your campaign. If they accept, then that amount of money is added to their phone bill. The carriers give the Mobile Giving Foundation that money, and the Mobile Giving Foundation pays that money to you.

The Mobile Giving Application Process

This information was originally posted on Mobile Giving Insider.

Step 1: Mobile Giving Foundation Approval
In the first phase, the Mobile Giving Foundation confirms the applicant is a legitimate 501(c)3 non-profit organization and makes sure everything is in good standing. There are 6 mandatory qualifications and 5 preferred qualifications for the application process.

Some of the major requirements state that the organization

  • must be a non-profit 501(c)3
  • must show revenue of more than $500,000
  • must be registered as a soliciting charity in all states that solicitation will occur

The full list of guidelines is available as a PDF on the MGF site. This process takes approximately 4 weeks from the time the application is received.

Step 2: Carrier Approval

After your organization is approved, the MGF submits your application to the mobile carriers. In general, the carriers do not perform additional due diligence on the organization as they defer to the MGF for this.

Each carrier has their own timeline for approvals, which can range from 2 weeks to 4 weeks or more. Most carriers approve campaigns weekly but the two exceptions are Sprint and Verizon. Sprint publishes schedule of particular dates that they approve campaigns and Verizon does not yet have a formal process in place.

Application providers have no control over the approval process or the timeline; all applications go through the exact same approval process.

Note that you can begin testing donations as soon as the first carrier approves your program. It is possible to launch your program early, but note that users whose carriers are not yet approved will not be able to give. For the best end-user experience and for the best results, it is highly recommended to wait until the entire approval process is complete.

When Mobile Giving Is Most Effective

Text-to-give can be an incredibly effective tool. It’s most effective in certain situations. Natural disasters often spark mass text-to-give campaigns. Additionally, calls to action in mass media (for example, if you have a celebrity spokesperson as part of a TV campaign) can receive a great response.

Alternatives to Mobile Giving

Asking for mobile donations can spur giving. But there are other ways to use a mobile campaign to build your bottom line.

Our experience with mobile giving has led us to the conclusion that mobile campaigns that focus on list building and CRM integration can have a substantial impact on both short and long-term fundraising goals. Using your mobile campaign as one segment in your overall digital outreach creates awareness and engagement. That, in turn, sparks increased giving in other venues.

Our data shows, for example, that supporters who are engaged on your mobile list donate online up to 77% more.

Mobile Pledging

In addition to mobile giving, we have run numerous pledge campaigns with organizations at rallies, galas, and other events. Users text in their pledge amount, and our system automatically recognizes the value from the text message. Pledges can then be confirmed via follow-up phone call or by sending an email.

We’ve also had customers run text-to-call campaigns connecting donors to a live operator, which have resulted in much higher average donations.

Credentials

We are a carrier-approved Mobile Giving ASP. We currently contract with the Mobile Giving Foundation; however, our software works with both platforms out of the box.