Finally, A Text-to-Donate Solution!

Joe Patti has been on a mission. He wants to help nonprofits find an affordable, reliable, user friendly solution for cell phone donations. On 10/25/2010, he posted an article that uncovered what will hopefully be the first of several options that meet his requirements…

Ever since the largest budget nonprofits began to maximize micro-donating following the Haiti earthquake, text-to-donate solutions have become an increasingly popular giving platform. Unfortunately, the costs associated with a reliable, secure, and user friendly solution were cost prohibitive for most nonprofits (especially those in the performing arts fields).

But that began to change in October, 2010 when a partnership between Obopay and Benevity introduced a text-to-donate solution that all but begs nonprofits to take advantage. The as-of-now unbranded service is free for nonprofits to set up and use plus the providers takes care of most of the paperwork; including distributing receipts. In exchange for the service, nonprofits must agree to a seven percent processing fee but the good news is the donor can still deduct 100 percent of his/her donation.

Technology In The Arts posted an article on 11/9/2010 that walks you through the service how-tos as well as taking a closer look at the providers involved. Of course, it doesn’t matter how easy a process is, nonprofit users will still need to take the time to design and implement a productive development strategy. Ideally, this is an excellent joint project between development and marketing teams.

Whatever you do, don’t be boring.

If you think tossing up a link on Facebook and Twitter will be all that’s needed, you better think again. Sure, new media is a good platform to incorporate into a larger strategy but don’t forget the nature of text-to-donate campaigns. They are ideally suited to take advantage of spur of the moment giving so don’t overlook the benefits of making an announcement before a concert.

If you want to go the clever route, incorporate it into the “silence your [bleep]ing cell phones!” announcement. You could go so far as to make a PSA style video to play before concerts (just keep it short) or even get guest artists to record a message to be used as desired.

Keeping it light and funny will help you avoid burnout among regular ticket buyers. If you don’t want/have time to reinvent the wheel, just copy what NPR is doing with Alec Baldwin.

Personally, I’d laugh my ass off and pony up a little dough if I saw the Chicago Symphony do a bit on Ricardo Muti’s absence as nothing more than a ploy to disguise the fact that they’ve “relocated” him to Italy under guard and won’t bring him back until you text “MutiOnDuty” to 5555 and donate.

This stuff writes itself…

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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