Mobile Companies Open the Floodgates to Allow Text Message-Based Donations

Obopay and Benevity partner up to allow any registered charity to receive text message-based donations.

UNICEF text dontation


Mobile companies Obopay and Benevity have partnered up to offer a text-to-donate platform that allows mobile phone users to donate to any charity of choice. While text-based donations are nothing new, what’s significant about this partnership is the cause-agnostic nature of it–any registered non-profit or charity can sign on by simply choosing a keyword to represent them.

Users start by texting the relevant keyword to the appropriate number, choose the charity, and the money is instantly donated and the tax receipts are issued immediately. It’s not clear whether those tax receipts are texted, emailed, or faxed in return.

For example, by texting “Pakistan” to 48510, you can donate to the flood victims in Pakistan. Or text “Gorilla” to the same number and you can help support conservation of gorillas in Africa.

“Benevity provides the back-end platform that facilitates donation processing, aggregation of micro-donations, distribution of funds and tax receipt capabilities. Future phases of the service will enable corporate matching of donations by companies and their partners,” the press release states.

Benevity developed the U.S.’s first “embeddable micro-donation platform” and has partnered with a handful of social businesses, NGOs, and charities. Obopay works with a variety of clients to streamline mobile payment options — from Nokia to AT&T and MasterCard.

“Crisis relief to Haiti put mobile donations on the map in America, but until now mobile donations have only been available for a handful of the largest non-profits and executed through carrier billing, which places limits on the amounts that can be donated and delays the receipt of funds,” said Obopay CEO, Carol Realini, in the press release.


“The lag in access to funds can be significant and many of the 1.2 million charities in the US are smaller organizations that are looking for a way to bring the ease of mobile donations to their supporters in a cost-effective way. Our new text-to-donate offering, which can work with the Benevity micro-donation platform as its giving engine, meets these needs and meaningfully expands the market and speed for making and accepting mobile donations,” said Realini.

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[Image: flickr user Howard Lake]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.