Spotlight on: MobileCause aims for clarity in mobile giving

The cause of mobile giving is relatively new, but it doesn’t take much to grasp the power that the untethered medium of mobility can bring to philanthropy. Carriers and new companies are coalescing around charitable giving to build a new revenue stream for nonprofits, disaster relief and a growing host of causes. MobileCause is one of those companies that’s evangelizing for the space of mobile giving while also making the case for a different system that aims to be more transparent and less cumbersome.

There are varying systems in place for mobile donations today, but MobileCause wants to eliminate unnecessary complexity and inefficiencies. After all, the biggest fear in this arena is that complaints will come in about money not getting to the entity in need. Rather than routing donations through as many as four parties before it reaches the nonprofit, MobileCause has built an ecosystem that brings all of the technology, reporting and remittance under one roof. It hopes to grab market share through this refined approach. “It’s a transaction business down the road for carriers that use the tool as a fundraising vehicle,” Daniel Scalisi, president of MobileCause, told RCR Wireless News. “A lot of the credit is due to the carriers and they’ve all done a tremendous job ushering this market in,” he said. Carriers have a 100% pass-through policy in place for donations that go to disaster relief today, but it’s only a matter of time before the process opens up for fundraising beyond purely charitable causes. "It’s a free market and we know carriers appreciate free markets,” Scalisi said, adding that “they still want to keep some arms’ length to the process.” To that end, Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications Inc., is sponsoring MobileCause’s Innogive Conference on March 16 and has a grant in place to allow representatives from more than 100 nonprofits to attend. "Verizon has really been the lead in helping this market change and transform,” Scalisi said. The opportunity for this new channel may be grand for obvious reasons, but as Doug Plank, CEO of MobileCause, puts it: “There’s an upcoming generation of new people and they’re all mobile.” The Salvation Army is one of MobileCause’s partners that’s expanding its donation and engagement channels to reach new and existing supporters on mobile. “This is just another important channel where we’re trying to bring all the pieces together,” said Jason Wood, the organization’s director of Internet services. “We know the text open rates is so much higher than e-mail open rates,” Wood said. “Text is so much beyond that, so much more to the level where it really is immediate.” As more channels for engagement and donation are added to the mix, The Salvation Army has found that even existing contributors have a propensity to give more. “We don’t necessarily want to convert anyone from any side to other,” he said. It’s all about the means to reach supporters and maintain their interest.

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