Red Nose Day spearheads youth-driven text-giving surge, report claims

  • SMS-giving hike largely driven by the young, and by high-profile campaigns like Red Nose Day
  • Gift Aid and an ‘uncertain’ charity sector remain key obstacles to SMS-giving, despite recent successful slashing of VAT and mobile operator charges
  •  “Charities can see the ever-increasing potential but aren’t yet reaping the rewards. It’s not all just about text donations but about using mobiles in all their glory,” vies Saxton

Recent increased mobile “text-giving” to charities is largely driven by high-profile campaigns like Red Nose Day, and fuelled by younger donors - claims a new report out today.

1 in 7 (15%, slide 2) of the public say they made a text-donation to charity within the last month, as of March 2011, compared with just 3% in July 2010. This rise is doubtless driven by umbrella charity campaigns like Red Nose Day, with 4 in 5 (82%, slide 3) of all those who recall being asked to donate via SMS, specifically recalling a request from this campaign – well up from 1 in 3 (33%) back in July 2010, when it wasn’t held.

The rise in SMS giving also seems largely driven by young people, 1 in 5 (19%, slide 4) of whom donated via SMS to charity within the last month in March 2011, again up significantly on earlier figures.

Leading not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy’s second edition of its “Sending out an SMS” report builds on its first edition, released back in 2009. It surveys a representative sample of 1000 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain, alongside a sample of UK charities, asking both the public and the sector about their interaction via SMS/mobile technology; and it recommends how such interaction might be further developed in the future.

Charities may well be encouraged by a general increase in people saying they would be likely to give via text to a charity they supported if asked (slide 5), again a trend seemingly largely driven by the young (slide 6)

The charity sector appears to be responding, perhaps even fueling, this emerging public appetite for donating via text. A third (31%, Mar 2011, slide 7) of all donors can recall being asked to donate via SMS, well up from July 2010 figures - largely prompted by TV and radio, rather than by SMS per se (slide 8).

Many charities are already using SMS in some aspects of their work (slide 9). Moreover, many do claim to be more interested (slide 10) to fundraise using this method following significant success in removing obstacles to text-donation - with the recent elimination of associated VAT charges and the well-nigh elimination of mobile operator charges, not to mention the introduction of easy-to-use short codes. However, Gift Aid (slides 11-12), and general uncertainty, remain key obstacles within the charity sector itself.

nfpSynergy’s “Sending out an SMS” report - key recommendations as to how charities can better utilise the potential of mobile phones and text messages:

  1. See mobiles and text messages as the “words between friends and lovers” that build relationships!
  2. Appoint a mobile phone/SMS/twitter czar from senior management within your organisation.
  3. Use text messages to “join up” communication campaigns, with shortcodes appearing on TV ads, posters, websites, T-shirts etc.
  4. Thank supporters and volunteers with a text message.
  5. Make runners and other community fundraisers feel valued with texts and Twitter.
  6. Remind people about appeals with a text message.
  7. Let people vote or petition via text.
  8. Develop smart-phone applications for even greater engagement.
  9. Use texts and tweets as a “heads up” for stakeholders.
  10. Use texts to prompt spontaneous donations.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton – who has himself led a sector-wide charity campaign coalition aiming to drive up SMS donations - comments:

“We estimate that by 2014 text donations could be generating around £100 million a year for UK charities – spearheading a renaissance of direct-response fundraising.

Happily, since the first edition of our ‘Sending out an SMS’ report in 2009, several major barriers to the development of the use of text messaging have been overcome – notably via the introduction of a VAT-free shortcode system; and via the reduction, in many cases to the point of elimination, of mobile operator charges. Unfortunately, totally lifting the barrier of gift aid – perhaps via an unfortunately necessarily deterring registration process, or maybe even via total exemption by HMRC - remains more elusive.

However, a culture of uncertainty amongst the charity sector remains the biggest and most important barrier for the future development of its application of mobile technology to supporter engagement. Our research shows that charities can see the ever-increasing potential – amongst a seemingly ever-increasingly eager public - but they aren’t yet reaping the rewards or finding success in utilising this new tool.

Hence our recommendations, which are not all just about text donations - mobiles have so much more potential than that - but about mobiles in all their glory.  Charities should be looking to create entire cohorts of donors and supporters whose only communication route is the mobile. Set this challenge for your next away day!”

-end-

 

MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: adrian@gillanmedia.com) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.

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