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“Real Time Charitable Giving”

It’s no small fact that mobile devices and smart phones have revolutionized how we interact with each other and work as a society. Instead of logging into a computer, we refresh our Android phone. Where before we were tied to a desk, we now download a new iPhone app to help us with our work on the go. As our dependence on our smart phones increase, so has our attention span plummeted, able to now only skim our inbox for important messages or limit interactions to 140 characters at a time. Yet, the state of today’s increasingly impulsive, short sighted digital population can still allow for some positive benefits, such as the emergence of text donations.

When seeing something horrific tragedies unfold online or on TV, charities and nonprofits can leverage our short-lived sympathy by prompting us to simply send a text message to a 5 digit number to donate $5 or $10. The small donation is folded into our phone bill and we feel a momentary sense of self-satisfaction, prompting us to share news of our donation and guilting our contact list into doing the same. Americans are heavy texters to the point where it has almost become second nature, allowing that small text message donation to something we’re moved by to be a quick and simple way for foundations to raise millions of dollars. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, over $43 million was raised for the reconstruction and relief on behalf of people donating via text messaging.

It’s obvious to see the evils in being too technologically dependent and being glued to our Blackberries, but there are plenty of times when there is measurable good from that same phenomenon. The Pew Research Center published the results of a survey finding that 9% of all US adults have made a charitable donation via text message. More than half those surveyed who donated in response to the Haiti devastation have made other disaster relief efforts since then.

Although some dangers because of fraud or hacking could possibly undermine this phenomenon, the ability to channel via text the Good Samaritan in us all, if only for a few seconds, is an amazing resource for great causes needing donations. The results speak for themselves.

My queries to those reading this:

Have you donated via text message before? Did you do any research beforehand? Would you do it again?

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Andreas Muno

Comment by Andreas Munojust nowDelete Comment

I wonder if the mechanics of texting donations for worthy causes could be re-utilized for local communities, au lieu, or to amend or to replace local taxes… I’ve got to think about that… Join me in thinking out loud about that, please.

Terrence (Terry) Hill

There are so many other ways to make charitable contributions (e.g. payroll deduction – CFC, monthly credit card charges – church, and even trading my credit card rewards, etc.) that I have never had the opportunity to text a donation (no discretionary money left over). I also like to keep records of donations for tax purposes, so I probably won’t be texting donations any time soon. However, it seems to work for others.

@Andreas – I’m not sure if local governments can generate the response that the Red Cross does after disasters, but why not give it a shot? There should be an easy way to “donate” more taxes to all governments. For instance, after a disaster FEMA could ask for donations to help those affected instead of using tax dollars. You may be onto something!