I just got back from the annual NFTE "Dare to Dream" gala, an event put on by the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship, my favorite non-profit, as it consistently produces tangible results by teaching kids how to run profitable businesses. Here's the trailer to a recent movie about NFTE kids.
NFTE did something so simple at this event with a mobile giving campaign, it's absolutely genius. I don't think most people in attendance caught it, or the significance of what NFTE did.
As anyone who's ever tried to run a mobile giving campaign and secure a short code knows, setting up a "text to give" program can be difficult, lengthy and costly, to say the least. There are some platforms out there like Mobile Commons that make it easier, but still, it's a process to set a mobile giving system up, which makes it prohibitive to do for a single event. One has to really commit to the process and treat it like a campaign.
But NFTE figured out how to do it for $0 cost, and it can be set up literally in under an hour. Want to know how?
You can see from the screenshot at left that they put a mobile phone number up on a big screen to receive pledges. The first thing you'll notice is that this is not a short code, i.e., "2653" for "Coke" or "62262" for "Obama". Instead, it's aregular phone number.
What NFTE did is so simple, it's genius. They just used a regular phone number and asked people to text in pledges to that number. You could even use your own cell phone number to set this up. Then, they transcribed those text messages to the big screen (manually is my guess; maybe they copied & pasted).
This way, NFTE had an immediate way to recognize the people who were texting in donations, in real-time, thereby driving a cycle of giving among the audience.
So, then, how does NFTE actually get the pledge? My guess is they simply call the phone number the next day that sent the text message and ask for it!
Yes, it's that easy! Just have one or two volunteers call everyone who texted that number and say "we'd like to collect your pledge from last night. Can you please give me a credit card number?" or similar. This part is just speculation; maybe someone from NFTE will comment below to confirm or clarify.
It's so easy, it's embarrassing. In the industry, we've all been trying to figure out how to make the short code process simpler & cheaper, and NFTE came in with an elegant, simple solution. In fairness to the short code industry, this approach doesn't scale. I.e., it would be very hard to do a nationwide "Donate to HAITI relief" type campaign this way. But then again, who knows? And it's a great way to test mobile giving in a real-time environment without having to set up any infrastructure, which I love. Plus, you can do this at any event!
By the way, I just donated $50 to the cause. Will you match or beat it?
Please show your support for NFTE, even if it's just $5 by texting your pledge to them at 202-390-5921. Then tweet about this; let's see how much money we can help them raise to support such a great cause. Leave a comment with your donation amount below to encourage others to join in.
Lastly, here is a video of Cynthia, the NFTE host MC'ing this donations segment the night of the event. Hats off to NFTE for a great, simple & elegant execution of what's typically a hard & expensive thing to pull off. Go ahead, text them a donation to show your support, like I did.