The days following the devastating earthquake in Haiti have been a turning point for cell-phone fund raising.
In the first 36 hours after the disaster, donors contributed more than $7-million via text messages, according to the Mobile Giving Foundation.
Within two days, text-message gifts to the American Red Cross exceeded $5-million. By contrast, the organization raised just $200,000 by cell phone during the 2008 hurricane season.
“This is the coming of age for mobile giving as a disaster fund-raising tool,” said Mark Rovner, president of Sea Change Strategies, a fund-raising consulting company in Takoma Park, Md. “There are people who will only give when there is a disaster, so finding ways to make it easy and convenient are extremely important.”
When asked whether some of the instantaneous $10 gifts are replacing what might have been larger online gifts at the organization’s Web site, Mr. Rovner said it might be an issue, but suggested that the quantity of gifts might make up for their small size.
“The assumption has to be that the sheer volume of people who are going to make a small, mobile gift overwhelms the fact that the average gift would be much higher for people who are giving online,” he said.
Plus, said Mr. Rovner, it isn’t necessarily a question of one or the other.
“There are some number of people who are going to go back to make a more substantial gift or a more thoughtful gift,“ said Mr. Rovner. “Having made a $5 mobile gift doesn’t necessarily preclude giving again.”
What do you think? Will the success of text-messaging campaigns for earthquake relief carry over into non-disaster fund raising? Are you worried that donors will make a $5 or $10 mobile gift for disaster aid and feel like they have done their part?