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Salvation Army shakes up holiday donations via annual social campaign

The Salvation Army updates its annual Red Kettle holiday campaign by offering a free trip to New York and a giving spree to an individual whose contest entry is selected by social media users.

Americans are asked to share their personal reasons for donating during the holiday season by uploading a video onto Twitter via the #RedKettleReason hashtag. After the finalists are whittled down to a pool of six, social media users will be encouraged to weigh in on who best deserves a trip to New York and a “giving spree” to purchase toys and necessities for a local Salvation Army program.

“As confidence in mobile as a safe and secure payment channel grows, smart organizations are reaping the benefits by infusing their message with easy ways to participate, via a financial gift,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business and development at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “Much like the omnipresent red kettles outside retail locations of the past, mobile is always on and social engagement and the sharing of giving experiences creates a community feeling that can be leveraged 24/7.

“Commerce-enabled SMS makes donating to the Salvation Army as simple as whipping off a text message. Then, after the donation has been made, consumers can use social media to broadcast their altruism, and encourage others in their social network to do the same.”

Fueling holiday donations
Consumers who spot fellow social media users sharing their anecdotes and reasons for donating to charities during the winter period may be prompted to do the same. The Salvation Army is also hoping to fuel more mobile donations from individuals who become struck with inspiration at any time.

Passersby may choose to deposit money into one of the Red Kettles found on many streets across the nation, or give a $10 donation to the organization by texting the keyword KETTLE to 80888.

Social media users can partake in the holiday giving spirit by recording a video that states their own personal reasons for donating. This video must be uploaded to Twitter alongside the #RedKettleReason and #GivingSpreeSweeps hashtags.

Consumers will be able to interact with and view others’ posts on social media and The dedicated microsite will also display an interactive mosaic and social media conversation map, as well as a simple way to donate on whichever device visitors are using.

“The benefit of a mobile-focused campaign is the ability for people to receive a social media message while near Salvation Army donation locations as well as the ability to capture the moment and feeling when they hear the familiar bell and donate,” said Dennis O’Malley, co-founder and CEO of ReadyPulse, San Carlos, CA.

Offering a social media contest is another optimal way to ramp up mobile donations. After six videos from Twitter are chosen, the finalists will be announced and voting will turn over to the public.

Consumers may visit to select their favorite video. The winner will be revealed in the second week of December, and will be receive a free trip to New York City.

He or she will be able to go on a shopping spree to purchase necessities and toys, which will then be donated to his or her local Salvation Army program.

The winner will also enjoy a special guest during the giving spree. Actor and musician Nick Cannon will lend his companionship during the event, which will be taped for the Today show.

Charitable giving on mobile
The Salvation Army has previously taken its Red Kettle initiatives to mobile. Last year, it also leveraged a text-to-give option on mobile devices to drive more holiday donations for the Red Kettle Campaign (see story).

Meanwhile, Nonprofit Feeding America is raising awareness of the hunger problem in the United States with a comprehensive mobile-driven campaign that takes the typical selfie activation to the next level by leveraging Snapchat for an out-of-home engagement opportunity (see story).

“Social media is a perfect medium for people to connect on shared experiences and feelings,” Mr. O’Malley said. “Social is best suited for spreading positive messages and who doesn’t want to feel that holidays are around the corner?”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York