The next time you consider wasting a few minutes bursting bubbles through a smartphone application, please stop and think of doing something more meaningful.
More significant than playing a game? Yes, there actually are ways to use your mobile device for good.
Donate to the charity of your choice via wireless device. You would not be alone.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet & Society, charitable donations from mobile phones have grown more common in recent years. Two thirds (64 percent) of American adults now use text messaging, and 9 percent have texted a charitable donation from their mobile phone.
In what Pew calls the first-ever, in-depth study on mobile donors—which analyzed the “Text to Haiti” campaign after the 2010 earthquake—findings show that these contributions were often spur-of-the-moment decisions that spread virally through friend networks.
Spur-of-the-moment as in pushing aside the bubble burster app for just a couple of minutes.
According to Pew, three quarters of these donors (73 percent) contributed using their phones on the same day they heard about the campaign, and a similar number (76 percent) say that they typically make text message donations without conducting much in-depth research beforehand.
Yet while their initial contribution often involved little deliberation, 43 percent of these donors encouraged their friends or family members to give to the campaign as well. In addition, a majority of those surveyed (56 percent) have continued to give to more recent disaster relief efforts—such as the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan—using their mobile phones.
Pew said that three-quarters (74%) of Haiti text donors in this survey were first time mobile givers, meaning that their contribution to earthquake relief was the first time they had used the text messaging function on their phone to make a charitable contribution. Overall, 80 percent of the mobile givers donated to the earthquake recovery efforts using only their cell phones—and not using any other methods such as online contributions or in-person donations.
Pew said that the mobile phone is bringing in younger donors. Also, the organization said that those giving this way are more racially and ethnically diverse when compared with those who contribute through more traditional means.
How does mobile giving work?
Through such organizations at the Mobile Giving Foundation and mGive, mobile subscribers respond to calls to action in media and online by texting into a charity or non-profit’s short code. A donation, usually in the denomination of $5 or $10, is included on the consumer’s bill sent monthly by the carrier of choice. A full 100 percent of the donation is passed to the charitable recipient within 30 days.
Some of the many current opportunities to give:
Text “GIVE” to 777444 to donate $10 to the USAID.GOV-sponsored famine relief effort in the horn of Africa, benefiting American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, UNICEF USA, World Food Program USA, and World Vision. General Mills has agreed to match the first 2,000 text donations that come through this campaign, up to $20,000.
Text “HOPE” TO 20222 to give $5 to the American Cancer Society.
Text “DARFUR” to 40579 to give $5 to the Save Darfur Coalition.
(Article first published as Mobile Does Good Through Charitable Giving on Technorati.)