‘Tis the Season For Mobile Giving

snaptagIt’s Christmastime, a season when good cheer gets a lot of people to reach into their wallets and help out charities. Charitable organizations are constantly looking for ways to make it easier for people to donate — even Salvation Army kettles can now take credit cards — so giving people the ability to donate via mobile is a no-brainer. Enter James Eberhard, who founded mGive in 2005.

The idea’s straightforward: Eberhard had founded a mobile content company and sold it in 2004, and thought if ringtones could be bought and paid for via premium SMS, why not charitable donations, too? Of course, one major issue with PSMS is the cut the operator takes out, but James has reached agreements with US operators for them to waive their revenue share, meaning all of the $5 or $10 donation gets passed through to the participating non-profits.

Today, mGive works with over 200 charities, enabling mobile users to donate money quickly and easily via shortcode. And it’s been successful: one campaign, featuring Alicia Keys and conducted during the American Idol TV show saw 90,000 donors raise $450,000 in just minutes. Donors have given about $1.5 million via mobile so far in the US; this exceeds the first year of online donations, and those now amount to some $18 billion per year.

If you’re in the US and want to try mGive out — and help support a worthwhile cause — you can head over to Facebook and see a complete list of the charities it works with. Or, you can send a text to 90999 to participate in one of their featured holiday campaigns:
Feeding America – text 1IN8 to 90999 to give $5
Wounded Warrior Project – text WWP to 90999 to give $5
City of Hope – text GIVEHOPE to 90999 to give $5
Mothers Against Drunk Driving – text MADD to 90999 to give $5

mGive is also deploying something called SnapTags to make donations even simpler. Users snap a picture of one of the tags (like the one seen here), then send it via MMS to a certain number, triggering the text donation sequence. This is pretty cool — groups like the Salvation Army could simply post one of the tags on their kettles and enable easy mobile giving!

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