By Akilah Massey, ASF
You may have heard that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) recently decided that political campaigns’ political action committees, or PACs, can raise money by text message.
Yes, that’s right. In between confirming dinner plans or asking your husband to pick up an extra bag of salad at the grocery store, you can make a quick donation to support a political candidate.
Looking back, it’s not completely surprising. Our society has been trending this way for some time. For instance, in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Red Cross received $22 million in $10 text message donations from the U.S – within a week.
So the idea that the cell phones most of carry around all day can be used to quickly support causes isn’t new. But the FEC’s decision illustrates that this method of giving is becoming even more ingrained in our society. Furthermore, it shows the increasing power that lies at the intersection of small-scale philanthropy and public interest.
But how can we put this power behind issues, and organizations, that we care about? Well, for starters, foundations can use their distinct voices both to highlight their grantees more widely and to encourage them to make the most of their online presence and the enthusiasm of other potential supporters.
There are some organizations for which it might not make sense to accept donations by cell, but there may be other ways they can use text messages to further their missions. Maybe text messages are just the thing they need to reach a population that they’re already serving? They can also be used to send regular updates about what’s going on at a nonprofit or to send reminders for important events.
Do the causes you care about use text messages innovatively? Do they encourage, or even have the capability, to accept text message donations?
Program Manager Akilah Massey works with ASF members and other partners on ASF local programs, small hosted gatherings around the country. She joined the staff of ASF in 2005 and enjoys talking to ASF members about the personal nature of small foundation philanthropy. Akilah is preparing a session on social media for small foundations, to be held at the 2012 National Conference in October.