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Mobile Donations Come to Alaska

Text and give


Mobile donating, giving money to a nonprofit via text message, is incredibly quick and easy – but for many years it was unavailable in Alaska. Today you can simply text a keyword such as “BEANS” to a short code number like “50555” to donate, for example to Bean’s Café, an Anchorage nonprofit that feeds the needy. When you text to “BEANS,” a set amount of $10 is charged to your phone bill. Your carrier, such as AT&T Alaska, GCI or Alaska Communications then delivers the funds to a company, which then forwards the donation to the charity.

The mobile donation approach has been around for a few years, but really did not catch on until the earthquake in Haiti. The American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund raised more than $32 million within a month after the disaster. With successes such as Haiti and other disasters that raised millions for large national nonprofits, many Alaska nonprofits began looking at text donating as a method to increase revenue and especially reach the younger demographic that is so comfortable with texting and smartphones.

In the summer of 2010 – Bean’s Café and The Children’s Lunchbox – two Anchorage-based nonprofits, began looking at mobile giving and within three months had text donating with AT&T Alaska, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile – national carriers with the technical infrastructure to implement, capture and forward the donations.

By early 2011, Alaska’s two largest local carriers, GCI and Alaska Communications, began projects to incorporate text donations within their platforms. GCI and Alaska Communications are great supporters of philanthropy and nonprofits throughout the state and therefore began the long and sometimes difficult process of implementing the technical procedures so any individual on their respective carrier would have a way to donate to a nonprofit that is signed up to do text donating. GCI and Alaska Communications provide this service throughout the state at no cost to their customers.

At this time anyone in the state of Alaska whether in Barrow or downtown Anchorage can donate to Bean’s Café, The Children’s Lunchbox and Catholic Social Services – and soon many more nonprofits – because of the time and dedication of local carriers such as GCI, Alaska Communications and AT&T Alaska. Alaska is truly on the cutting-edge of new technology that will benefit all of the people and causes those nonprofits in Alaska support.

About the Author

Ken Miller is the director of development at Bean’s Café and is a board member of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals. He originally moved to Alaska in 1975 and is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

This article appears in the December 2012 issue of Alaska Business Monthly in the PHILANTHROPY IN ALASKA Special Section.

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