Online Study: Haiti A Tipping Point For Giving

March 3, 2010       Kate Rogers      

Generations X and Y are now using their phones for more than just gossip, games and congregating. According to a national survey of U.S. charitable donors, mobile giving amongst younger generations is gaining momentum in the wake of the Haiti earthquake.

An estimated 6.5 million people used their cell phones to donate in the days following the disaster, according to research by Austin, Texas-based Convio, Edge Research in Arlington, Va., and Sea Change Strategies based in Tacoma Park, Md. The response shows the increased popularity of text-to-give efforts after the Haiti quake could lead to even greater acceptance in future campaigns. The research was based on a national survey conducted one week after the earthquake and during times of intense fundraising efforts for emergency relief.

Jill Ward, senior marketing manager at Convio, said mobile fundraising is becoming more innovative, thanks to the levels of engagement seen in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake. “The adoption of mobile technology is right now, where online was in 1999,” Ward said. “Haiti really is the tipping point with this. Mobile is a viable and effective channel because of its convenience and immediacy, and perhaps because its reaching donors that you might not have been able to reach otherwise.”

The data found that 77 percent of respondents were aware of the Haiti text-to-donate efforts. And, 17 percent of Generation Y respondents, 14 percent of Generation X respondents, and 3 percent of boomer and mature respondents made a donation to Haiti via text message.

The respondents were from a national online survey of 1,526 donors, drawn from a sample of 2 million households controlled to be census representative and screened to be current charitable donors.

The research also found: * 28 percent of respondents with a mobile Facebook application texted a gift to Haiti; * 36 percent of all respondents were willing to donate via text; and, * 31 percent were willing to donate via text message if a friend was raising money.

“The data presented not only shows the growing acceptance of mobile charity appeals, but also provides some interesting statistics on the contrasting habits of different generations,” said Pam Loeb, principal at Edge Research. “Mobile technology presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits that want to reach specific groups of people — likely to be younger — and provide them with information in a convenient and immediate format.”

Of all respondents, three percent said they received a text message from their top charities this year, and of that group, 71 percent said they think text messaging is an important way to stay in touch with the charities they care about.

The data results cited are part of a larger study that will be released in the coming weeks on the differences between Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers and Matures when it comes to charitable giving. “We are living in this multi-channel world,” Ward said. “The more nonprofits can provide constant fundraising options, whether its through email, mobile technology or social media, the more effective these organizations will be. “