Americans were quick to react to the Haiti disaster last month, donating millions of dollars in a matter of hours. A driving factor in the lightning-fast fundraising was the ease of donating through the Web and mobile devices.

The results were so impressive – the American Red Cross raised more than $32 million alone through its mobile text-to-give effort – that Cone wanted to explore how, and why, many Americans engaged in text-to-donate campaigns. We fielded a brief, two-question online survey with Invoke Solutions to explore the trend, and the results revealed 13 percent of respondents donated via text message following the earthquake. Although this number may seem low given the massive support for relief organizations, it represents well over a 100 percent jump from Cone’s 2009 Consumer New Media Study conducted just last fall. In that survey, six percent of American adults said they had donated to any cause via mobile phone over a 12-month period.

Most of the 13 percent who texted a donation to Haiti indicated they did so because it was the fastest and easiest way to respond to the urgent need (8%). But the survey also indicated that the success of text-to-give efforts for Haiti may be more than just a flash in the pan. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) said if they donate once through a text message, they are more likely to donate again.

Mobile donations are clearly building traction with American donors, but what does this mean for future fundraising efforts? Nonprofits looking to engage supporters through this channel should note the other survey findings:

  • 27% of Americans are more likely to donate via text message if there is a credible endorser (person, company, nonprofit)
  • 27% would be more likely to text a donation if a company/organization “matched” their gift
  • 22% would use text messaging to donate to causes only when there is an urgent need
  • 19% would rather text a donation to a cause or nonprofit organization than through other means (e.g., write a check or donate online)
  • 18% are now more likely to text a donation to their favorite nonprofit organization if it is an available option

We may have reached the tipping point for mobile donations after the earthquake in Haiti. It will be interesting to watch if and how nonprofits adapt this technology to their own causes through urgent, yet strategic appeals.

About the 2010 Cone Text-to-Give Trend Tracker:
The research presents the findings of an online survey conducted in February 2010 by Invoke Solutions among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,183 adults. The margin of error associated with this sample of this size is ±3%.


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