A new service from DMW Direct Fundraising aims to help pubmedia stations reach members and donors through cellphones and tablets, using software for creating mobile-friendly pledge forms.
According to DMW, the new service will be more effective than the text-to-give format many stations have experimented with because it doesn’t rely on cellphone carriers to collect money and allows for larger donations. It also offers more opportunities for individualized communications. Mobile giving can be an important revenue stream, but stations should view it as more than just dollars and cents, said DMW President Debbie Merlino. “It’s really important to not just think of this as another channel for revenue only,” she said. “It really needs to be about engagement.
It’s not the best way to collect big annual gifts from station members, pubcasting fundraisers agree. But This American Life’s producers confirmed that giving-by-texting among their many devoted listeners holds considerable potential. Beginning last November, appeals for $5 donations included in four of the show’s weekly podcasts brought in $142,880 from 28,576 listeners, as of April 15, according to Seth Lind, production manager. To donate, a podcast listener simply texts “LIFE” to 25383 and TAL receives a $5 donation, minus fees, paid through the giver’s wireless phone bill. The vast majority of the text gifts to TAL were sent during the campaign’s first month, but fans continue to respond.
Americans’ response to the post-earthquake crisis in Haiti demonstrated the power of technology-enabled charity, but public broadcasters who have tried raising funds from mobile givers say it’s been a money-losing proposition so far. A handful of public stations have tried various ways of soliciting donations by text messaging. Philadelphia’s WXPN asked attendees of last summer’s XPoNential Music Festival to chip in $5 each via text message. In San Francisco, KQED made appeals during campaigns tied to Earth Day programming and 2009 year-end giving. Twin Cities Public Television made pitches during pledge drives, animated 10-second spots and e-newsletters.