Mobile Giving, Where is it now?

Natural disasters gave rise to the phenomena of donating money via text message to causes but where is Mobile Giving today?  Now that this technology is several years old it deserves review of efficacy as well as analysis of best practices in the field.  Mobile giving may be the province of national campaigns for the most part but there are some notable successes with regards to using this technology for regional or local campaigns.

The growth of the mobile market is well documented as is the growth of the smart phone market.  Some recent surveys indicate that over 95% of Americans have mobile phones and that over half of those mobile phones are smart phones.  Likewise the mobile giving market has fleshed out in the the last three years as there are dozens of vendors for this technology offering services for a variety of different types of clients.  Choosing a vendor can make the difference on the margin of the campaign but more to the point the way that you build your strategy around mobile giving can have an even greater impact.

Mobile giving vendors can take a hefty chunk of the income from any given donation.  Other vendors such as the Mobile Giving Foundation remit 100% of a donation to the non-profit to which it is intended within 30 days but require an application service partner to complete the interface with your donors (costing $90-400/month plus per transaction fees) and won't do business with you if you filed a 990 showing less than half a million dollar gross revenue.

Mobile giving seems to be most effective under the media spotlight.  It helps harness the free marketing of celebrity or press attention into a real action that can be taken by a patron or concerned community member.  The immediacy of the mobile medium allows a community to rally around a crisis quicker than any other avenue and as such makes it much easier to make spontaneous action.

Relatively new developments in mobile giving include higher maximum giving amounts, mobile bar-codes (aka QR codes), and application development for smart phones.  Every year more vendors become available for mobile giving which is driving down economic costs and driving better feature development.  One could extrapolate that before long it will become worthwhile even smaller arts organizations to use this tool as part of development strategies.