Issues and problems

Organisations looking to use mobile technology to raise funds, awareness or assist with donor recruitment need to be aware of a number of key issues:

Access to mobile internet

Access to mobile internet sites is currently limited

Cost and income

Due to the way mobile operators closely control access to their payment mechanisms which , and the high rate of commission that many take on mobile payments (often in the region of 50%), returns on mobile campaigns may end up lower than expected. At the same time, the cost of running campaigns can be high, with budgets needed for outgoing messages, the rental and setup costs for short codes and keywords and the staff time required to process and audit income. There may also be an additional cost for follow-up messages (to thank people for their support or to update them on the campaign, for example). It is generally advisable to try any new mobile campaigns on an existing membership base to test response and effectiveness before opening it up to the wider public.

Transparency and opting out

It is important when running a mobile fundraising campaign to inform the end user of how much their donation is ‘lost’ to operator and other costs (described above). In some countries this disclosure is compulsory by law, which makes particular sense in light of the high costs associated with running these campaigns. In addition, subscribers to a service – receiving news alerts, for example – need to know how to ‘opt’ out should they wish, i.e. how they can cancel their subscription to the service and stop receiving messages.


Mobile phones as a tool should never be considered in isolation from other campaign media such as the internet, newspapers, radio, television and street canvassing. Mobiles are a great complementary tool, but only a few campaigns will work if mobiles are targeted alone.