Silver Ring Thing, a Christian group that promotes abstinence among teenagers, is seeing success with mobile technology—but not for fund raising. The organization is using the medium almost exclusively for reaching out to young people.
During the past 18 months, the group has built a mobile database totaling about 25,000 numbers, mostly teenagers, said Jason Burtt, Silver Ring Thing’s senior vice president and national director. Silver Ring Thing sends one or two messages a month to its list, mostly encouragement, news, and links to blog posts and videos.
About 10 percent of the people who receive a message with a link visit it, and about 5 percent watch videos, Mr. Burtt said.
“We get good feedback from people who receive them,” Mr. Burtt said. “The main service for us is to be a reminder [to our audience], along with a chance to launch or advertise things that we are doing.”
Silver Ring Thing’s strategy is an approach others should embrace, according to a new background paper from MobileCause, a company that helps charities create text-message fund-raising campaigns.
“The old rules of establishing trust, building community, fostering engagement still apply regardless of the medium,” writes Doug Plank, MobileCause’s chief executive and author of the paper.
The paper compares the early days of text-message fund-raising to the early days of online giving, with many of the same problems and inflated expectations. That’s why Mr. Plank suggests using text messages first as a way to talk about a nonprofit’s mission, gather information, and build relationships.
A recent survey of 233 nonprofits by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Kaptivate, a nonprofit consultant, leads to a similar conclusion. That study found 20 percent of nonprofits were using mobile technology only to engage supporters, and about 50 percent were disappointed with their fund-raising results through the medium.
What do you think? Should charities be investing more in efforts to develop relationships through mobile technology and focus less on fund raising?