As the recent earthquake in Haiti continues to claim casualties, the outpouring of relief funded by contributions made from the mobile phone comes into the spotlight. As of the 18th of January 2010, the Red Cross and other relief organizations managed to raised more than $20 million (Ksh 1.5 billion) through text message donations, which is about 10 percent of the $210 million (Ksh 15 billion)total raised.
The user experience was simple with people sending the word “HAITI” to the number 90999. This text had a charge of USD 10 (Ksh750) and was added to a users phone bill. Am guessing here that most guys are on postpaid lines in the US. Locally i have not seen an implementation of a service on the Ksh 100 billing band and above.
Of interest is that it seemed like most people were engaging this new medium of fund-raising for the first time.Mobile Accord who run the mGive initiative for the Red Cross say that this is the biggest response they have seen since 2008when they began offering their services.
Closer home, while the numbers may not match and while the causes don’t get Michelle Obama type support to rally them, the numbers are non the less impressive…on a local scale.I had the honor to offer consulting and technical services on mobile aspects of fund-raising to political parties in the run-up to the general elections and the numbers were “awesome”. I remember the campaign run by the Ralia Odinga Supporters Committee (ROSC) where the now Premier of Kenya’s voice was recorded in both English and Swahili and using a combination of IVR and premium sms subscription managed to engage close to 300,000 Kenyans from different parts of Kenya. The campaign had a huge viral effect and if the chaps at Continental House were impressed to hear the Premiers voice when they called and seconds later he responded…imagine what the mwananchi (ordinary folk) will think and the sort of buzz it created. I cannot share the absolute numbers, only that there was a maximum threshold of 3 messages or alerts on progress and or news that were sent daily. You do the moneymatics…:-)
Another fund-raising initiative that I can share statistics from is the “Dosika na Pick-up” promotion which due to its success has seen 3 runs of the same with the latest being the Dosika Kifaru edition. The 3rd Dosika SMS, text-to-win experience was run by PRSP WASP Africa to raise funds for the conservation guys at Rhino Ark. This version of the Dosika experience and so far the campaign has given away 4 Isuzu DMAX pickups and millions of shillings to charity.
The Dosika Kifaru edition and all the others before it were raised funds for the Rhino Ark.
Again without doing the in-depth calculations that sort out revenue shares and all Dosika 1 grossed something in the region of Ksh.30,000,000 and Dosika 2 due to increased “brand equity” and tweaking of the metrics grossed in the region of Ksh. 50,000,000.
There is a difference if you will notice in the Haiti and Kenyan examples…in the Haiti one, there are no prizes to be won and it is pushed as a pure fund raising venture. The use of star power to appeal to emotion and the use of media partnerships to achieve the same, lend to its interesting mix, not to mention that the minimum donation is USD 10 which in Kenyan terms is not the sort of money one would wish away from their mobile…even via money transfer platform Mpesa.
Perhaps it boils down to an issue of culture and where we are at…but again should we really mind provided the funds are arised and the charities are empowered to do their work?
At the end of the day, both scenarios prove that mobile media can be used as an effective fund-raising tool. Just get the concept and communication right.