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Oklahoma food bank raises more than $296K via mobile following tornadoes

The relief funds were raised via a text-to-donate campaign, with mobile users able to send a one-time donation of $10 by texting the keyword FOOD or TORNADO to the short code 32333. Donations were added to donors’ wireless phone bills and were accepted through all mobile phone carriers.

“A text-to-donate campaign like this lowers the barriers to participation and charitable giving,” said Doug Stovall, executive vice president at Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

“People are tied to their phones and can easily make a quick text,” he said. “Other ways to give involve calling, pulling out a credit card, or wading through a Web site to find the correct place to donate.

“Charities only have a short window of opportunity to raise funds. Text-to-donate is instantaneous, it helps capitalize on the moment and 100 percent of the donation goes to the charity so people know they are making a difference.”

Quick reaction time
The campaign was designed by Hipcricket, a division of Augme Technologies, and implemented in conjunction with Griffin Communications and the Mobile Giving Foundation.

The Regional Food Bank is the largest private hunger-relief organization in Oklahoma. It will be able to provide five meals for every dollar donated.

Mobile donations can be a powerful fundraising tool for non-profits because campaigns can be quickly launched, the message is simple and the process easy. These factors contributed to The Regional Food Bank’s ability to raise more than $296,000 in one week.

The campaign remains open.

“This effort was successful because it was implemented, deployed, and promoted extremely fast,” Mr. Stovall said. “With the quick turn over of the news-cycle, there is only a short window of opportunity to capitalize on these relief opportunities before peoples’ attention shifts elsewhere.

“Text-to-donate can be launched as soon as disaster strikes,” he said. “We had this effort up and running within hours after the tornado ended.”

A national effort
Mobile donations also enable smartphone owners from anywhere – not just in Oklahoma – to help out.

Hipcricket worked closely with Griffin Communications to promote the campaign through its TV and radio stations in Oklahoma. Other stations and publications, locally and nationally, also picked up on the effort.

The campaign also spread virally through email and social media as people looked for ways to help out.

“It is easy to push this nationally,” Mr. Stovall said. “Even if they can’t be there physically, people want to help. Text-to-donate makes that easy.

“No need to ship canned goods or put a check in the mail,” he said. “Just a simple text and ‘boom,’ you’ve helped.

“The charge was added directly to their mobile phone bill. There was no need for any additional credit card information or authorization.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York