Hi, please

Mobile Donations – Travelogue 4

STEP 1: Please text the word “HONIEH” to 89183.

STEP 2: Please read through slides.

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  1. Harris 20:55, Mar 22nd, 10

    Hahaha @ step 1! Now that’s a fantastic beginning to reporting from the medium. Almost-surreally delightfully amazing!

    Maybe your rich medium for this travelogue should be SMS :) Like just post an instruction on here on where and what to text and we receive your blog post by SMS lol You’ll have to keep it to twitter-length though, that’s the down side.

    This is only the introductory post and you’ve solved one of the major problems of my life. For months I had been wondering how I could create a sustainable but convenient donation model for some nonprofit projects back home where we don’t have credit cards and if we do we never use them online. That shouldn’t have been a problem at all in a country that has 97.6 million mobile phone users (60 percent of the population). Thank you thank you thank you.

    I’m looking forward to reading about a) safety and reliability, and b) authenticity and relevance, i.e. what will happen if this becomes too popular?

  2. nadine 22:07, Mar 22nd, 10

    Honieh, I loved that!!! This is so cool!!! Haha, my donation seems save and well-invested..;-)
    I am little bit intrigued by certain facts that you mention in your slide show: 90 days processing time seems quite a lot, especially in emergency cases like Haiti or Chile! Does that mean that our donations haven’t arrived yet?! About sustainablity: I think that right now, mobile donations rely on the shock-factor of a major tragedy. However, it could also be great for long-term fundraising. Do involved NGOs send follow up text messages? For example, providing information about their actions or sending photos? That would be a good idea.
    Like Harris, I would also like to learn more about safety. Must be heaven for phishing! Here a link to a service that verifies the authenticity and safety of your mobile app: http://www.mymobisafe.com/
    You could also look into the mobile banking system called M-Pesa in Kenya (plenty of articles on Google).

  3. ElzbthMllr 08:23, Mar 23rd, 10

    I agree with Nadine and Harris that I’d like to learn more about the safety issue. Both in terms of is it easy to get people to give to fake charities, and also where is the security with mms banking etc.

    I think this is a very interesting issue, but I get frustrated when people claim its revolutionary or something crazy new, yes the platform through which people give is new, but people have always donated en masse like this after disasters, 9/11, the tsunami etc. If it really takes 90 days to process what is the huge upgrade in using this technology to give? Also, these kind of donations seem to be removing people from the causes even one step further, people aren’t talking to the charity they are giving money too, they don’t know how their money is being spent, how much of their donation goes to overhead etc.

    Looking forward to your next post!

  4. HoniehLayla 09:19, Mar 23rd, 10

    It takes 90 days to process because the mobile carriers are first charging your bill and then it is relayed to the actually organization. I can do further research on this fact since many of you are interested in the actual process of where the funding is being sent.

    N- They can send follow up text messages, only if the user has opt-ed in to receive those alerts. I will show you an example of that process in my next post.

    I can see why you may be frustrated. The technology may not be new or revolutionary, but presently people are so caught up with their own lives, and especially struggles, that this type of donation suits ANYONE. Most people own a mobile phone, so it is the quickest and easiest way to reach their pockets.

    I believe this actually gives opportunity to those who usually don’t donate, the ability to.


  5. Alexandra 09:59, Mar 23rd, 10

    Question – if I text Honieh to the number, am I donating to something? I only have a work phone so I can’t donate on their behalf!

  6. HoniehLayla 10:09, Mar 23rd, 10

    MMA guidelines state – That I wouldn’t be able to take your money unless I had stated it in the CTA “call to action”. So no you will not be charged, only for your text messages, which depends on your data plan.


  7. Alexandra 10:26, Mar 23rd, 10

    It says it’s an invalid number!

  8. HoniehLayla 10:32, Mar 23rd, 10

    Is this you – 1917392**** – Just checked it – All messages went through fine.

    It could be an issue with what your phone plan allows.. You might not be able to send/receive messages to/from short codes :)

  9. Alexandra 10:34, Mar 23rd, 10

    yes – i tried to do it through my google voice number and it didn’t work so i just did it with my work phone and it worked. however, i can’t see your slides! sorry to be so much trouble.

  10. HoniehLayla 10:40, Mar 23rd, 10

    Yes this particular service doesn’t work through Google Voice – I also tried it on my GV #s and was told it was an invalid number – Technically GV is not a carrier….

    Can’t see the slides?

    Here is the actual URL:


  11. Alexandra 11:07, Mar 23rd, 10

    argh… it says it’s been marked private by owner so it still won’t let me see!

  12. HoniehLayla 12:11, Mar 23rd, 10

    It is public now. Let me know if you have any further issues.


  13. Ryan 12:11, Mar 23rd, 10

    Yeah all great thoughts on a really interesting topic. I think you should really delve more into the security and authenticity of the charities because I know that this was somewhat of an issue surrounding the Haiti relief. I remember seeing something that said beware of fake charities. These types of campaigns seem extremely viral and helpful, however, I wonder if their is a way in which carriers can lessen the time it takes (90 days) to turnover the money. It makes me wonder with all those donations made to Haiti, how did Red Cross and the other Relief Organizations utilize the funds when the hype surrounding the donations died down. Ideally, relief should be asap, getting the money to the organization quickly can be an issue. Could you think of the quicker way to get funds to haiti? Or is texting the fastest?

  14. Leslie 12:15, Mar 23rd, 10

    I never even thought about mobile donations as a potential safety issue, but I can definitely see now how problems could arise, especially if this gets more popular.

    Besides the ease of use, I wonder why mobile donations caught on so well? I wonder if it has anything to do with social status aspects? Are people using this form of donation because it can be done in front of their peers, where others can easily see them donating? Not to be too cynical…any reason that people decide to donate money to a cause in need is good…but I feel like sometimes people like to openly express that they donate to a certain cause as a way of expressing themselves.

  15. mushon 11:04, Mar 26th, 10

    Brilliant gimmick! I love it!

    After I donated by SMS to the Red Cross they texted me:

    Free Msg: Reply YES to receive the latest Red Cross news! Up to 4 msgs/mo. info? HELP, to end txt STOP.

    There was also a cap on mobile donation, which made me have to go online to donate more. I then donated to Partners In Health from which I am getting emails now. I could donate more online, and PIH has my email, but I think I would’ve not donated online before getting frustrated with the amount cap on mobile donations.

    Re:Use of Slides
    Please check my comments on Elizabeth’s latest post

  16. ElzbthMllr 11:15, Mar 26th, 10

    Check out this blog post, I read it and thought it might be helpful in your research http://ow.ly/1reSw

  17. nadine 01:34, Apr 24th, 10

    Hi Honieh, I’ve added information and more references to the wiki page on mobile donating.