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Text Messaging Makes Charitable Donations Easier Than Ever

May 15, 2018

Whether as the result of a natural disaster or just from living a hard life, millions of people depend on the charitable donations of others. Many times, people are reluctant to give, just because doing so can be a time-consuming process. The introduction of text messaging donations changes that, however. In fact, donating via text messages has already helped millions and it’s still a very new option.

More People Give Via Text Messaging
A good example of what donations via text messaging can do was seen following the earthquake in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake, which occurred just over two years ago, affected more than 3 million people. Those that weren’t killed were seriously injured or were left homeless, but charitable donations from around the world helped many to recover. Immediately following the disaster, the American Red Cross set up a donate-by-text option, which the U.S. State Department helped to promote. The program allowed mobile phone users to send a $10 donation simply by texting the word “HAITI” to a specified number. Those $10 donations added up quickly and, in a very short time, the American Red Cross had collected more than $43 million in donations via the text messaging option.

Text Messaging May Be the Best Way to Get Help
Shortly after news about the success of the text-to-donate program, phone apps and philanthropists began working on more programs to make text message donations easier than ever. Sites like Tithe.ly make it easy to give regularly, or when a specific story touches your heart. This type of donation collecting works so well, because people can donate on impulse and when they feel that extra empathy that inspires them to give. Conversely, waiting until you get home, so you can write a check, address an envelope, and drop it in the mail is far less immediate and people can lose the inspiration to give, if the donating experience is delayed.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently conducted a study on the effectiveness of text message donations, which involved surveying 863 of the individuals who donated to the Haitian relief efforts via the text-to-donate program. They found that most donations were made because of exposure to news coverage of the earthquake and its aftermath. Of those who donated, more than three-quarters of them said they had never used text messaging to donate to a cause. Of those questioned, only one-third made additional text message donations. Some people argue that the ease of text message donating cheapens the emotional reward of donating and devalues what it means to the donor. However, proponents of text message donations say that the opposite is true. It lets people give when they feel the urge and it also connects them to the situation in a very real way. They can receive updates about how much money has been raised and how it’s helping those in need. Additionally, texts can be sent to each donor to let them know just how their specific donation made a difference. This kind of communication helps donors feel a stronger sense of connection to those they seek to help.