Library Fund Raising Using Text Messages

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a colleague at work about using mobile fundraising for the library.  It is an easy way for patrons to support the library. Send a text message donate $5 or $10 whatever.  No need to go home and get the checkbook or get online and enter your credit card information.  Even better its instant, no worry that they’ll forget before they get a chance to make that donation.

Last week I came across How Text is Changing Philanthropy and it seemed like a good time to revisit the issue. Of course the best and most recent example of text fund-raising is the situation in Haiti.  The Red Cross raised over 30 million from texts alone.

Why can’t libraries use this?  Hang a sign in the library, put a message on the home page, but a link on the OPACs, its fast, its easy its simple.  It might reach a whole different demographic than our tradition fundraising methods, people who might never have donated otherwise.

Text-based fundraising is all about immediacy. You don’t need to wait until you get home and turn on the computer. Simply enter a five or six-digit code into your cell phone, along with a single word in the body of the text, such as “Haiti.” You don’t even need to plug-in your credit-card info — the donation amount is simply added to your next phone bill. It’s all so quick and convenient, you can give in the moment. There’s no chance of you forgetting to do it later. – Time

Some other institutions are already doing it, Susan G Komen Foundation and St. Jude’s among them. And one library, the Brooklyn Library has already started a campaign. (go Brooklyn!)

Read more:

I’m not vouching for any of these companies but here are a few options

CC image used courtesy of JonJon2k8 on flickr

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7 comments for “Library Fund Raising Using Text Messages

  1. April 1, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I run one of the provider companies mentioned in the article – Give by Cell. There certainly is a lot of interest recently. In the last month over 40 libraries have contacted us about mobile giving, and we have reviewed with them the pros and cons. Marketing is the key ingredient. If the library can really get across the message that a $5 donation makes a big difference, than this new vehicle may accomplish two things: raise new funds and maybe as importantly engage with a new set of donors.

    • April 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

      Hi David –
      As a donor, of I have a PayPal account, is there a benefit to using your service over PayPal’s Text-To-Give?

      Are there benefits you offer the recipients of donations (Libraries and Friends) that PayPal does not?

      Thanks, Jean

      • April 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm

        Hi Jean- the paypal service is a really great one. They make it convenient to donate. The reason it has not caught on in a bigger way is because one has to first register to enable that feature for you. Once paypal launched their service all these competing organizations launched their own similar services, thereby fragmenting the market. If only paypal offered it, and all of us downloaded the app then it could theoretically replace what the carriers and the mobile giving foundation have set up. But like other great ideas, competition has sprung up and consequently none have caught on in a big way quite yet. But everyone has a cell phone, and most have text messaging, so at the moment the ability to send a text regardless of what carrier you use is pretty powerful.

  2. Lyn V.
    April 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    There are still a few cellphone service providers that haven’t set up to allow 5-digit dialing codes. This prevents many of us from participating in these “text-to” events… text to vote, text to donate, text to ask questions.

    • April 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      I am curious, which companies? is there a list somewhere?

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