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How to Make a Charitable Donation With Your Mobile Phone

Text-to-Give Campaigns Have Gone Mainstream

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How to Make a Charitable Donation With Your Mobile Phone
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Many charities now accept donations through mobile texting, especially for domestic or international emergencies. The Red Cross, for example, broke new ground in 2010 with its huge campaign to raise money for the Haiti earthquake.

According to the Pew Research Center, about nine percent of Americans have texted donations for charitable causes, but many people still have not tried it. If you are one of those people and would like to experiment the next time a text-to-give campaign beckons, just follow these simple directions.

How do you text a donation?

Find out the letters (keyword) to text and the number (short code) to send it to, depending on which charity you wish to support.

Text-to-give campaigns are great for all kinds of media, so you will likely hear about it, and the keywords and codes, from the radio, while surfing the Internet, from your TV, or from your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Grab your phone and start texting.

For example, you might text the word "CHARITY" to the number 491062 and hit send. That, in this hypothetical case, would trigger a donation to the charity.

Wait to receive a text message asking you to confirm your donation. Click "yes." Your donation will not take effect until you confirm it.

Your donation (usually limited to $5 or $10) will be charged to your mobile phone bill. Your donation will be processed through an intermediary, such as mGive, that specializes in processing mobile donations.

That intermediary may charge a small fee for the transaction, which comes out of the donation amount the charity receives. In some cases, such as a high profile emergency, the processor may waive the fee. Your phone company may or may not charge you text fees depending on your mobile phone plan.

You may be able to repeat your text donation up to a set amount, again depending on your phone carrier. Your donation/s will appear on your mobile phone bill.

Don't expect a thank you message other than a short text message automatically generated to your phone. One of the characteristics of mobile fundraising is that the charity receiving your donation does not have access to individual donor information.

Save your phone bill to use as a receipt in order to receive a tax deduction for the donation.

Trends in Mobile Giving

QR Codes are an up-and-coming alternative to using keywords and short codes to send a donation via your mobile phone. QR Codes are those black and white barcode-type marks that we see everywhere now, from receipts at the grocery store to advertisements in magazines. Some charities even include QR Codes in their direct mail fundraising appeals.

Some cause-marketing campaigns, that are partnerships between products and charitable causes, use QR Codes to allow consumers to make a donation. You simply scan the QR Code with your smartphone. A custom website pops up on your phone where you can make a donation, sometimes right through PayPal allowing you to just sign in rather than input your credit card number.

The nice thing about QR Codes is that you aren't limited to a certain donation amount, and there are no text fees from your mobile carrier. Watch for charitable fundraising campaigns that use the text-to-give format and QR Codes.

The world is going mobile. My guess is that we'll be donating to our favorite causes more and more through our phones, in increasingly easy ways.

Read more about QR Codes, SMS marketing, and cause marketing.

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