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Mid-Atlantic Credit Union unifies text-to-donate, crowd-sourcing for social fundraising

The Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union has launched a digital campaign leveraging social media as a relatable and expansive channel to raise donations for a local food bank, proving charities have the opportunity to garner donations regardless of size, as another hierarchy becomes disrupted by the Web.

The greatest impact of social media is its ability to level the playing field. The price of entry to these platforms is much lower than marketing through traditional broadcast channels and allows a simple, powerful and well-targeted message by the smallest charity to succeed in fundraising via social. The MOOVE against hunger nonprofit financial cooperative is using texting and Facebook to ask its community to donate money through July 31 to help buy steers at the local 4-H livestock sale in August for the Manna Food Center.

“Combining text-to-donate with an online and social media campaign is a proven way to expand the reach of such campaigns,” said Ketan Sampat, co-founder and chief technology officer of

“Our experience tells us that 25-30 percent of users will interact with the campaign through their smartphones,” he said.

Grazing in new territory
This is the second year the Maryland-based credit union is buying steers to donate to the food center, but the first time that it is crowd-sourcing and using social media.

Last year, the 1,029-lb. steer purchased and donated by MAFCU cost $3,300 and produced enough meat to feed about 400 families. This year the credit union is hoping to double, if not triple, that donation.

To reach this objective, MACFU is using CafeGive Social’s fundraising apps to bring in as many donors and advocates as possible. Through the end of the month, users can visit MAFCU’s Facebook page or website to donate, and add their names if they choose to the virtual donor wall.

Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union is matching donations up to $5,000. That is a potential donation of $10,000, or three steers.

To encourage participation among younger generations, donations can also be achieved by texting “BEEF” to 55155, which directs the user to a responsive micro-site.

The redirect link to

The level of data analytics possible within social media programs brings further opportunity to charities with small budgets to optimize their marketing efforts and then adjust tactics in real time depending on what is encouraging the most donations.

Reconfiguring technology
British charity Refuge tapped into the popularity of YouTube make-up tutorials by creating their own rendition to raise awareness concerning domestic violence. While this highlights a powerful attempt of a brand channeling social behavior to reach milennials, likes and views do not directly translate into revenue.

“Donation programs perform best in a crisis or following a disaster, said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer at Mobivity, Phoenix.  “Donations via text to Haiti for earthquake relief were the watershed moment — $43 million was raised with the vast majority coming from younger donors who had never given previously to the Red Cross.”

“Other initiatives have seen less success. It often depends on whether there’s a sense of urgency, high emotion, or great need rather than an ongoing issue.”

Mobile giving offers near-instant fundraising as individuals receive an SMS message allowing them to make an immediate contribution. Numerous mobile donation campaigns in the wake of global emergencies such as 2004’s Indian Ocean tsunami and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina generated substantial relief funds for victims via SMS.

While MACFU does not allow for donations to be directly tacked onto the user’s mobile bill, it presents an interesting theorem for social donations. While it is already possible to buy and sell products through posts and tweets, new apps such as Chirpify, which connects users’ bank or PayPal accounts to social media, may allow for an entire new use case for charities to boost their funds via social.

The MOOVE campaign comes at a time when food banks are receiving fewer donations from grocery stores and refuges like Manna are more dependent than ever on samaritans.

As the campaign has surpassed the halfway mark to its goal, it purports the effectiveness of social media its ability to help MAFCU expand their community beyond just Upper Montgomery County, Maryland, to potentially the entire world.

“Text messaging adds to the ease and immediacy of a campaign, as a simple call-to-action such as simply ‘Text ‘BEEF’ to 55155’ is easy to understand, simple to act on, and immediately gratifying,” Mr. Sampat said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York