Category Archives: sms

Egyptians Give Nearly Half a Million Mobile Donations During Ramadan

Over a quarter of a million people – 284,632 – donated $484,702 (£311,625) to good causes during Ramadan in Egypt this year, a 462 per cent increase on 2012’s figure.  

$241,000 was raised in the last two days alone for charities including the 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital, the Egyptian Food Bank and Resala, via TA Telecom’s Megakheir SMS service. Megakheir processes 95 per cent of all mobile giving in the country.

“Donating to charity has always been an integral part of Ramadan, however, the proliferation of mobile technology that the region has seen in recent years has provided the people of Egypt with a highly way of channelling their generosity,” said Amr Shady, CEO and co-founder of TA Telecom. “SMS donation platforms allow charities and NGOs to reach a wider audience, generate more funds and ultimately make a greater difference to society.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/egyptians-give-nearly-half-million-mobile-donations-during-ramadan#kGZzJpe0bimxTMLP.99

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Spotlight: Open Fundraising

Open Fundraising, an ad agency that works exclusively with charities, found itself in a perfect storm three years ago. Just as mobile was becoming the personal communications platform of choice for consumers, the government said that it wouldn’t tax mobile services and operators agreed that they were keen to give as much as possible to charities seeking a new form of revenue here. 

This, with the fact that “no one else was doing the same thing”, meant Open Fundraising found itself in the position to help its clients use the mobile channel to increase giving and open up communications with supporters. “We didn’t set out to be a tech company – we did this because no one else could,” says James Briggs, creative director of Open Fundraising. 

“Out of nowhere came a really amazing payment system, with a response mechanism for traditional media,” he says. “We thought, ‘wow, what would happen if we tried this out for someone we work with?’. We took out a full-page ad for Christian Aid in the Guardian’s Saturday magazine explaining that every 45 seconds a child dies of malaria and asked people to text ‘net’ to donate. 

“The initial response prompted us to try the same in other papers and then on trains and other places where people are hanging around with phones in their hand. This is how we can be sure that people use their phones while they’re on the toilet,” he adds. “Before we knew it, we had thousands of new donors all putting their hands up and saying ‘I want to help children dying from malaria’.” 

Premium-rate hangover 

As a new form of giving, the effort was not without its challenges. The hangover from the heady days of Crazy Frog meant all SMS campaigns were regulated by the PhonePayPlus trade body, which specified a mandatory STOP opt-out. “But for charities”, says Briggs, “this was not a good message. It was like we were saying ‘we don’t want you’.” Briggs headed down to meet PhonePayPlus with the head of individual giving from UNICEF – which has been “blazing a trail” in mobilising the third sector –  to put the case for an alternative system. 

PhonePayPlus agreed to change the rules so charities are exempt from having to communicate STOP every month and can instead give the option to SKIP a gift rather than cancel. “We were excited to test that system,” he says. This messaging system is now used by 18 of the top 20 UK charities. 

How big is this opportunity?  

As early as 2010, explains the company’s MD, Tim Longfoot, the Red Nose Day campaign processed 250,000 donations online, 750,000 using the traditional telethon mechanism, while 4.2m people texted their contribution. Today £150,000 worth of donations pass through Open Fundraising’s Mobilise platform each month and within a year of its launch, the agency expects to have taken more than £1m in mobile gifts. Longfoot says the value and volume is doubling each month too.  

“70 per cent of what Open does is still writing to older people,” he says. “The reason we’ve seen such extraordinary growth in our mobile operations is because it’s easy. On the same device that money is taken, communication is overseen. People actually read texts; no one reads corporate charity emails. And the option to skip puts the control firmly in the hands of the donor.” 

Donors text back 

Open Fundraising ran a campaign for Breakthrough Breast Cancer as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to “put health information into purses and handbags”. The integrated campaign started with print ads to request information, which was fulfilled with a phone call and followed by monthly reminders to help women follow the advice. “Then we started receiving text replies from women whose lives had been touched by cancer. We were surprised by this, and then we realised we really shouldn’t have been,” Longfoot says. “This is a really personal interaction on exactly the right platform.” 

So what about other types of mobile communications? “We are not here to sell you an app,” says Paul de Gregorio, head of mobile with the agency. “That might change as smartphone connections get faster, but SMS is number one for us on mobile today. Simon Cowell knows just how powerful text and TV is. Mobile blurs on and offline, traditional with newer channels.” 

Making activists of Middle England 

“Our Friends of the Earth bee campaign – where you text ‘bees’ to give £3 and receive bee-friendly flower seeds as a thank you – proved that we were creating activists in ‘Middle England’, not just ‘bored young people’, as had been one accusation,” he says. “People also criticise this as ‘armchair activism’, but it’s exactly the same thing whether you are approached in the street or respond via text to a print ad. In fact, smartphones actually make giving into a mass market.” 

“We’re an ad agency using all the marketing tricks to achieve good things,” he adds. “I like advertising – so to be able to do it for good is just amazing. This is the future of where fundraising and change will happen.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/spotlight-open-fundraising#MrTtv2jmX1BRVUVi.99

18 to 25-year-olds in the UK Send 225 Messages a Week

While SMS is still the most widely used messaging service both in the UK and the US, at 96 per cent and 92 per cent respectively, multiple messaging services are now used by 75 per cent of people across both countries.  

Users of BBM send the largest volume of messages in the UK, an average of 110 per week, according to the survey done by Acision. SMS is second highest, at 75 message per week, Whatsapp at 74, with iMessage and Facebook Messenger on 64 per week. 


Young adults in the UK, not surprisingly, send 22 per cent more than any other age group – 225 every week. SMS still rules in the US however, with 111 messages sent on this channel every week. Young people aged 12 to 18 send 150 texts on average every week here.


Most people message more than 24 people on average across all these platforms, with many seeing SMS as more appropriate for work and OTT for friends. Women also send more SMSs than men. Many of the 1,000 people asked in the US and UK say they prefer OTT because these apps have richer features, like confirmed deliver, speed and cost, which was particularly important in the UK.   


On the launch of the results, Glen Murray, SVP and GM of Acision in Europe and Russia, took these results as another warning to mobile operators to up their game. “Operators have to be able to monetise five or six different things to compete today,” he said.  


The research, perhaps necessarily, did not look at all of the OTT apps used in both countries, which have evolved to services like Snapchat, Skype and MessageMe. 


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/18-25-year-olds-uk-send-225-messages-week#zcDjEpvkFd14ovTf.99