Events and stunts Sport Relief’s 2014 campaign are already well underway – and this year, fundraisers are using the power of text to drive donations. Run by UK charity Comic Relief, the sporting offshoot distributes funds to various charities and causes across Britain and the developing world, culminating in a special televised event on March 21.
Sport Relief has turned to a mobile system provided by OpenMarket to help them raise cash from donors who don’t usually engage via the website or through more direct involvement with the charity. Users can donate money by sending a text to a five digit short code. Four codes allow for swift pledges of differing amounts. For example, donors who wish to send £5 simply text FIVE to 70510.
Says James Stokes, an OpenMarket spokesman:
"It's a simple process - the donation is taken directly from a users' phone bill or PAYG credit. They send the advertised keyword to the short code, and the donation amount is taken once they receive a confirmation message.
"The full amount of the donation is then passed on to the charity by all networks, making text donations not only easy, but also extremely cost-effective for fundraisers."
Comic Relief is not the only charity to use the OpenMarket Mobile Engagement Platform. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is currently using the system to collect donations for its Philippines Typhoon relief appeal. Children in Need, the UK-based charity for disadvantaged young people, also used OpenMarket for text donations during 2013.
If previous fundraising campaigns are anything to go by, text donations should be a winning strategy for Sport Relief. In the US, a number of good causes have scored big with text message campaigns. A text-to-give commercial run by United Way during the 2007 Super Bowl raised $10,000 within seconds for the then-recent tsunami in Asia. The Haiti relief effort was given an enormous boost by a Red Cross text campaign, which raised a total of $32 million for victims of the earthquake.
The success of text-to-donate is put down to the simplicity of the process, which attracts people too busy or otherwise disinclined to make a phone call, or visit a website to give money with a credit card. By comparison, texting is almost entirely free of hassle, and as smartphone adoption continues its inexorable rise, potential donors have their access point to hand at the moment they see an ad for a campaign.
Crucially, text messaging also engages a young audience, which is statistically less likely to give money to good causes. Once opted in to the contact list, those donors are more likely to give more in the future.
When executed well, text campaigns like Sport Relief can not only raise huge sums of money, they can help organizations develop long-term relationships with donors - and as any commercial enterprise will tell you, those relationships are more lucrative than one-time engagements.