This American Life Asks Listeners to Text To Donate


For the past two years, our customer This American Life, the weekly radio show produced by Chicago Public Media, has asked its podcast listeners to text in their donations to support the program. A few times per year, host Ira Glass comes on the air and says, for example:

I’m asking you to pitch in. Basically, cover our cost to get the show to you…. Text TAL to the phone number 25383, and when you do that, ten bucks goes to us. A ten dollar donation will appear on your phone bill.

Last year, the show’s production manager Seth Lind told Mobile Active that This American Life pursued mobile giving to make it easier for people to donate:

Our traditional way of asking for donations on a podcast was sending people to a website – if you’re out jogging, you’re not really going to do that. But if you’re out jogging listening to the show on your iPhone or another smartphone that plays media, maybe you would stop and take the 30 seconds or less to send a text. We thought that it could lower the bar for people and make it a lot easier to donate.

Lind was absolutely right. By the time of the Mobile Active article last year, This American Life had brought in tens of thousands of new donors.

Text to donate works best if you have a public platform like This American Life. But even if you don’t have Ira Glass on your side, you can still use mobile to increase your bottom line. Check out our post about how building engagement also builds revenue.

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