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Salvation Army leverages text-to-give to drive holiday donations

Salvation Army is leveraging social media and a text-to-give option on mobile devices to drive more holiday donations for its annual Red Kettle Campaign that raises financial support for the international charitable company’s various local causes.

The 124th annual campaign, which was launched this year by the Dallas Cowboys at the Thanksgiving Day football game, is placing a heavy focus on mobile users in an effort to reach a wider audience of potential contributors and streamline the giving process as much as possible. Salvation Army is also focusing on encouraging Americans to share personal reasons for donating on social media sites and mobile applications via the #RedKettleReason hashtag.

“We have seen great success building awareness through our viral giving campaign called #RedKettleReason which equips supporters to educate their social connections about the breadth and depth of services The Salvation Army provides – specifically those services that are related to basic needs of children and families,” said Lt. Col. Ron Busroe, national community relations and development secretary for The Salvation Army, Alexandria, Va.

“We’re asking supporters to share their #RedKettleReason for donating to the kettles (both online and in person) using the #RedKettleReason on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. More than 40,000 reasons have been submitted since the social campaign launched in mid-November. Donations via are supporting our efforts to serve 30 million Americans in 2015.”

Focus on mobile
With consumers on-the-go during the busy holiday season, Salvation Army is  leveraging mobile options in a way that promotes the campaign and offers streamlined ways of donating. Any mobile user that wishes to donate can text the word “KETTLE” to 80888 and reply with “YES” to the subsequent text message to give $10.

“This past Black Friday, 48 percent of donations came from mobile devices,” Lt. Col. Busroe said.

Consumers are encouraged to share their personal thoughts regarding the campaign on social media. Individuals that share their #RedKettleReason post online via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube will have their posts appear online on

While the Red Kettle Campaign is perhaps best known for stationing volunteers with red kettles and bells in local communities to gather donations, an online component is also available. Individuals can host their own Red Kettle online to support their local community or a community of their choice, which can be specified by the zip code entered into the user’s profile.

Contributors can set up an Individual Kettle, Team Kettle or Company Kettle to raise funds with no registration fees, and can reach out to family and friends with sample messages provided in the Kettle profiles.

Building on previous efforts
Salvation Army has been increasing mobile efforts since the first rollout of a Mobile Bell Ringer campaign in 2010. Interested individuals were able to text BELL to a designated number to donate $10 and receive a Mobile Bell Ringer ringtone in return (see story).

The charitable organization also has an iPhone mobile application for Online Red Kettle that enables users to track their progress, share updates on social media and log donors. In 2011, Salvation Army aimed to collect $3 million via the iPhone app and an improved Facebook functionality, and hopes this year’s numbers will be even higher.

“We’re designing our social media images and advertisements to be mobile-friendly, with larger text and impact stats more visually stimulating from phone or tablets,” Lt. Col. Busroe said.

“We are encouraged by the more than 40,000 reasons that have been shared from supporters on since the campaign launched two weeks ago, and we anticipate many more supporters will be joining the campaign.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York