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Charity text giving: its importance to the third sector and the premium rate industry

29 February 2016, Mark Collins, Head of Regulatory Development
charity semina aime phonepayplus 2016

On Friday 19th February, we held a charity text donations seminar jointly organised by the Association for Interactive Media Entertainment (AIME). The event brought together charities considering using text based donations and those looking to improve their current text based fundraising.

The day provided an encouraging insight into how the premium rate services industry and the third sector are working together to grow this important area.
©image credit: Oisin Lunny, OpenMarket

“The event covered many essential areas around mobile compliance and regulation for fundraisers in the UK, but also looked at how charities can effectively extend the relationship beyond fundraising by using mobile. One key takeaway was the importance of offering a joined up customer experience, the public are now mobile-first and won’t tolerate anything less.”

Oisin Lunny, Senior Market Development Manager, OpenMarket
“The seminar gave charities and agencies valuable time and space to delve deeper into the opportunities that mobile is currently offering the sector, as well as how we best negotiate challenges on the horizon. The enthusiasm for mobile as a payment and communication channel is clearly not waning so I’m excited for the year ahead.”

Fiona Pattison, Account Director, Open Fundraising

Donor experience and the development of SMS giving
Dr Mike Short from O2/Telefonica opened the seminar with an overview of how charity text giving has evolved - from its early role in fundraising in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Tsunami, through to the development of a dedicated SMS number range which does not attract tax.

Oisin Lunny, OpenMarket, highlighted the importance of a joined-up customer experience through charity text giving whilst Iain Williams from instaGiv outlined the control donors have through this form of donations.

Rob Weisz from Fonix highlighted the nervousness consumers have about giving out their phone number for fear of receiving marketing calls. This was also echoed in Roger Craven from Vir2 presentation as he stressed that there must be other ways to engage with consumers which are less intrusive.

Fiona Pattison from Open Fundraising spoke about the opportunities and wider mechanisms for text donations including website sign-up and the use of SMS as a recruitment driver and not just a fundraising tool.

The Future
As Fiona said, monthly giving by SMS is no longer new. Public confidence in text giving has increased as it has become a normal route for donating to charity.

At PhonepayPlus we are trying to play our part. The piloting and introduction of initiatives such as the “Skip” message instead of “Stop” that allows regular donors to miss a payment for a month if they want to do so, without ceasing giving altogether. We also provide bespoke advice for charities and the industry in the form of Special conditions on recurring donations and in our general Guidance on promoting premium rate services and we will continue to develop our role in this sector. As I stressed in my presentation our door is always open for a conversation if you have any ideas or would like a chat about any of this.

So what does the future hold?
Text giving as a frictionless mechanism for donations is crucial for further growth in fundraising. But are there other phone features as well as SMS which can be used to benefit consumers and charities? How can agreeing to Gift-Aid become a seamless process? Do location based services provide an opportunity?

The opportunities mobile technology provides as an even more pervasive technology than the internet were highlighted over the course of the day.

The emerging conversations suggest there are further opportunities for charities to draw upon the growth, popularity and consumers’ reliance on mobile in developing their fundraising strategies and approaches to text giving.

Presentations from the day can be found here.

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