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« Nonprofit Social Media Strategy Map Workshop In Silicon Valley | Main | The Social Web is Not Flat »


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Just FYI, there is also a company called iSites where you can create an iPhone/iTouch app and/or an Android app for a one time fee of $25...instead of $200. The website is

Barbara Talisman

Also check out working with smaller nfp with less budgets of less than $500K and use as you go/better pricing! Thanks for all your info Beth - as always appreciated!

John Kenyon

Great piece Beth. I agree with you, Allison and Geoff. There has to be a strategic "why" you would go to text or attempt fundraising for it. As Geoff said well, you need a large crowd or widespread media attention to make fundraising via mobile worthwhile - you need a large volume to make the costs and effort equal the return. I think for the many nonprofits for whom SMS fundraising is not appropriate, they should still consider a possible role in communications strategy.

One point I did not see mentioned, and I would add, is that while I don't think SMS fundraising is right for a majority of nonprofits, it can be useful as a communication vehicle. I think of the immigration rights protests in California not long ago, which mobilized a lot of hispanic youth. Smart orgs that work for the rights of immigrants have kept in touch with that population (many of whom have none or little access to computers or the internet) via SMS. This can include protest announcements, updates on changes in the law, reminders to vote, etc. As you mentioned I think there are some great case studies on Mobile Active. This is just one example of how small and medium size orgs can consider adding text to the mix of channels they use to communicate with stakeholders.

Mark Brooks

I do hope this post gets wide coverage. My fear has been that we are throwing the baby out with the bath water in our race to embrace new trendy technology. I have always felt that tools like Social Media were more useful as an entry point rather than an end to point. The media, even non-profit media, tends to trumpet the successes of Social Media while never looking at it critically. Posts like these can help us know what truly is best for us and how to apply these new tools to our clients needs.


COLORS magazine, published out of Italy, did a piece a year ago about money. The whole magazine was made up to look like a 100 dollar bill. Do you remember it? They had sections on everything that they found in the dollar bill, including cocaine, fecal matter, blood, sweat. And they had a section on SMS bill pay in Africa. People would text their payment for their wedding, for instance.

As you say, a lot of people do not have access to computers, but not just in poorer sections of America (which are growing to resemble third world countries), but also in Africa. People do have cellphones. Perhaps SMS fundraising would work well in African communities, when there is more of a nonprofit and fundraising structure and system there. What do you think?


PS. Thank you so much for the resources, ideas, and thoughts on SMS fundraising. I am so curious about this method of fundraising, and was already writing a blog post about this (for Monday), but now I've got more tools to give. Beth, you're getting a linkback, of course!


What are some of the best practices for incorporating mobile into your communications and engagement tool box?

In countries where mobile money transfer (e.g. Kenya, Uganda etc.) is the default way of sending and receiving funds, this is a strategy that African activists could adopt with little to no upfront costs. This has been used by large NPOs (e.g. Kenya Red Cross) to people seeking money to pay off hospital bills. While I haven't seen a study on the RoI on mobile money tx for NPOs yet, I suspect that providing another channel for giving that allows for instantaneous gifts is worth a second look.

Presumably, as time goes on, the software will become cheaper (as that seems to be part of the cycle), which will make consideration of it more possible for non-profits other than the huge Nationals.

Personally, I like the idea (once its a financially justifiable prospect), as it may increase a non-profits reach to parts of the country where they don't have representatives, and also to those donors who would be comfortable texting off a few dollars rather than sitting down with a credit card on the net.


Beth - this is great! There are alternatives worth looking at. One from Artez certainly. The issues some other commentators have raised with access to donations, etc., are taken care of via direct mobile-to-web credit card access that actually increases the amount of the donation going to the cause.

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