Pros and Cons of Donating via Text Messaging

from Business Week:

Haiti Earthquake Provokes Wave of Text Donations

It’s unclear yet whether the text campaigns will succeed in raising more money overall for Haitian relief efforts by convincing the younger generation to give, or whether the phenomenon represents a shift in the way people give, rather than an expansion of generosity. Another open question is whether individuals who have access to corporate matching contributions – thus doubling the impact of individual donations – will bother to do so with the text donations. (Some corporate matching funds won’t match donations under a certain amount.) “We don’t have benchmarks for this yet,” says Katherina Rosqueta, executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania. “The power is in the scale.”

For those who want to donate to Haiti, the bigger question is not whether to do so by text, online, or phone, but where to give so that your money can do the most good. In a catastrophic situation such as this, Rosqueta notes, the groups that can do the most good are those that can respond immediately, that are already on the ground or can get there quickly, and that have experience in disaster relief.

from The Center for High Impact Philanthropy (University of Pennsylvania):

Haiti: High Impact Technology for Disaster Relief Giving

As always, questions arise around the safety and sustainability of using new technology when it involves donating personal resources, such as money. After a quick round of brainstorming, our team came up with a few points to consider:

Pros (+) and Cons (-) of Donating via Text Messaging:

  • + Easy to do, user-friendly, quick response (seconds-minutes)
  • + Low cost ($5-$10)
  • + Scale of use: close to 80% of Americans have cell phones
  • + Large and untapped demographic of young givers or “Millennials”
  • + Accessibility in the event of not being near a computer for immediate gift or a website crash due to heavy donation traffic (In the case of Yele.)
  • – Money paid to orgs only after phone bill is paid – lag in time for money to be paid to orgs (per NYTimes)
  • – Software, Licensing, and Transaction fees to orgs (Per NYTimes. In this instance, fees have been waived for the most part.)
  • – Limited donation amounts