Text Donations Facilitate Impulse Giving But Not Long-Term Donations, Study Says

The best way to reach busy, distracted donors? Make it easy.

The ability to send small donations using mobile phones facilitates “impulse giving” in response to moving images or events, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project study, released last week. The study cites as an example text message donations for Haiti relief, which received nearly $43 million in text-donations.

Of those who gave via mobile phone, 73 percent donated immediately or within the same day of hearing of or seeing images of the disaster, while only 5 percent waited a week or more before they decided to give.

“These findings have vast implications for non-profits, other cause-related charities, and even philanthropists,” noted Rob Faris, Research Director for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, which helped conduct the study. “The age of mobile connectivity is creating a new class of networked donors who learn quickly about tragedies that occur anywhere on the planet and respond immediately.”

And while the immediacy of giving may have vast implications, the study also suggests that these givers may not be all too invested in a cause, with 76 percent of those surveyed stating they did not do any research before giving money.

What's more, only 3 percent of those who donated state that they have continued to follow Haiti's reconstruction efforts closely, while 96 percent admit they have paid little to no attention since they gave.