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Article posted on wildapricot.com by Lory Halley, February 3 2012
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently released a new report – Real Time Charitable Giving – that focuses on donations made via mobile phones. This report is based on interviews with 863 individuals who gave to the “Text for Haiti” campaign on their cell phones.
While Pew’s previous research had found that “one in five US adults (20%) have made a charitable contribution online, and that one in ten (9%) have made a charitable contribution using the text messaging feature on their mobile phone,” this new report offers a deeper understanding of mobile giving. And with “two thirds (64%) of American adults now use text messaging,” it’s important for fundraising organizations to understand what motivates mobile giving.
Here is a summary of some of the research findings:
But while this study offers fresh insight into mobile giving, it’s important to put these findings into perspective – especially for those small non-profits and charities just thinking about mobile giving as a new channel.
We need to remember that this report is based on mobile donations made after the Haiti earthquake – when a speedy response to fund relief efforts was crucial. In addition, as the Pew Report notes, there was intense international coverage about Haiti – “the story was the most heavily covered news event in the two weeks after its occurrence and was the dominant topic in social media conversations at the time”. And as a Mashable post, suggests, along with the moving media images of the devastation, the call to action came from large organizations – such as the American Red Cross (which promoted the “Text for Haiti” campaign), with influencers, like Michelle Obama, promoting the public service announcement.
I think we also need to have a good look at the profile of the study’s respondents. The “Profile of the Haiti text donors in this sample” notes that “the mobile users who participated differ in unique ways when compared with other types of charitable givers” for example:
The key message that I’ve seen in most of the coverage about this report, is around the confirmation that mobile donations are often an “impulse buy.” The report certainly demonstrates that donors will respond – quickly and without much thought – to graphic images of people in need when a speedy, easy means of donating (like texting) is available. But another interesting message that emerges from this study is that this “new cohort of charitable givers” made spur-of-the-moment decisions and spread these virally through their friend networks – illustrating the true power of both social and mobile media. Perhaps most important, it shows that the “Text Haiti” campaign built a foundation for future mobile giving.
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