Mobile Donating: What it is And How it Can Transform Your Fundraising

Published on January 29, 2024

Mobile donating or mobile giving may seem like a new thing – but that ‘text to give’ campaign from your mobile phone is an old genie in a new bottle. The first official ‘tele-fundraising’ happened in 1949 – when US television personality Milton Berle raised $1.1 million over 16 hours for a cancer fund. That’s $14.6 million in 2023 money

Giving money for a cause you believe in has since spread from telephones to mobile phones and now to smartphones – via digital payment solutions. We can now use SMS to send a keyword to donate, reaching out tens of thousands through mass texting or even having peer-to-peer conversations over texts.

Mobile donating is a huge success because of a simple fundamental – a hassle-free way to support a cause, where the commitment to pay can be made as easily as sending a text.  

In this article, we will delve into the landscape of mobile donations, beginning with various methods beyond text to give, such as mobile apps and peer-to-peer texting, and looking at the various places where a mobile donation campaign can be set up. 

What is mobile donating?


Mobile donating, often called mobile giving or mobile donations, is a way to donate funds to charitable organizations, political campaigns, or social causes using your mobile device. This form of giving has gained popularity due to its convenience, accessibility, and the near-universal spread of mobile devices.

It has become integral to fundraising strategies for nonprofits, political campaigns, and various advocacy groups, allowing them to reach a broader audience and engage supporters in a digital age.

Types of mobile donating

Mobile donating can happen in several ways:

  • Text to give
  • Text to donate
  • Donation pages
  • Telephone fundraising
  • Mobile giving apps.

Each of these has several advantages for certain kinds of campaigns, fundraisers and outreach programs. Here’s a more detailed look at how each of them works.


Donors can donate a specific amount (ex, $5) by sending a text message with a specific keyword to a designated short code. The amount is added to the donor’s mobile bill or deducted from their prepaid balance. The organization collects the amount from the carriers. 

For example: 


After sending the text message, the donor receives an automatic response acknowledging their donation. This message often includes information such as the amount of the donation, a thank-you note, and instructions on how to confirm or cancel the contribution.

To set up a text-to-donate campaign, you have to obtain a unique keyword and a designated short code (a short phone number typically consisting of five or six digits). 

Text-to-give works better in emergencies or when cold messaging tens of thousands to gather funds for a specific moment or cause. 


Donors can choose how much they want to donate when they send their text message, and payment is usually made via a separate payment app – like Google Pay. 

Donors send a text message with a specific keyword, and instead of a fixed amount automatically deducted, they are sent an automated follow-up message with a link to a payment portal where they can choose the amount they wish to donate. Payment is immediate. 

For example:

 “Text ‘GIVE’ to 38227 to save the South American sloth.” 

And the follow-up would be – “Thank you for reaching out, John Smith. You can make a donation at” 

Text to donate works best for flexible collections (for example, for political campaigns) and fundraisers for organizations as a whole rather than individual campaigns. It is usually targeted towards existing donors who may be more open to making larger donations. 

In fact, you can set up an entire campaign in Callhub in just four steps – renting the numbers you need and setting up the keyword, crafting a message, uploading your contact list, and scheduling your campaign.    

CallHub offers a comprehensive digital platform for fundraising, donor stewarding & organizing volunteer-led efforts. 

Read more: Text-to-give Vs. Text-to-donate – which one to use for your nonprofit?

Donation pages

A dedicated donation page for a cause offers several advantages, providing a streamlined and effective way to engage potential donors. It serves as a central, trustworthy platform where potential donors can learn more about the mission, goals, and impact of the cause.

From the donor’s perspective, an online donation form accommodates a variety of payment methods and styles (one-time, recurring, long-term, immediate, etc.), making it convenient for donors with different preferences to contribute in a way that suits them best.

For the organization, a dedicated donation page allows for collecting valuable donor data. Organizations can gather information about their supporters, track donation patterns, and analyze data to improve future fundraising strategies.

Furthermore, a well-crafted donation page allows organizations to tell their story effectively. Engaging content, impactful visuals, and compelling narratives can inspire donors and create an emotional connection with the cause.

Telephone fundraising 


Telephone fundraising involves soliciting donations or pledges from individuals over the phone. Phone calls allow for direct communication between the fundraiser and the donor. This personal touch can be influential in building a connection and conveying the importance of the cause.

Specifically, telephone fundraising allows fundraisers to address questions, provide additional information, and respond to concerns on the spot – increasing donor commitment. 

Studies have proven that phone calls have a much better impact on donor engagement and retention. Welcome calls alone boost retention by 30%. Moreover, 19% of your lapsed donors would donate again if you connected to them over the phone. 

You can get the full guide on telephone fundraising by Callhub here.

Mobile giving apps

Mobile giving apps provide a convenient way for donors to contribute anytime, anywhere, using their smartphones. This accessibility increases the likelihood of spontaneous and timely donations.

This speed is particularly beneficial for time-sensitive campaigns, emergencies, or events where immediate contributions are crucial.

Also, Apps allow organizations to send push notifications, keeping donors informed about upcoming events, urgent needs, or updates on the impact of their contributions. This helps maintain donor engagement and transparency.

You can even use apps to raise funds through innovative methods that may not even seem obvious at first. 

For example, the Charity Miles app lets users track their walks or runs and then partners with sponsors to convert user’s ‘miles’ into charity donations. You can even leverage your peer network and ask friends and family to donate a certain amount if you manage to clock in a certain number of miles.   

Another great example is how an NGO used a blood donation app to inform donors precisely when their blood is used for a patient! This has actually increased blood donations dramatically

Difference between types of mobile giving

Text fundraising vs. telephone fundraising

  • Mobile donating via texting is almost immediate – with practically no hurdle to making a fixed donation. It is almost certain to be read, and many people will respond. 
  • You can increase the number of text messages you send exponentially  – from a thousand texts to over ten thousand messages in an hour – without dramatically increasing costs. 
  • Mobile donating via phone calls is a more drawn-out process, requiring a conversation with whoever answers – and answer rates for phone calls are far lower than read rates for text messages. 
  • Texting allows quick donations for popular and well-known issues (for example, a recent flood or war), but you need to have a conversation if you want larger amounts for more niche issues. 
  • Text-to-give limits the flexibility for the kind of donation you want and limits the freedom of the donor to change their donation amount. Text-to-donate gives more options, but the additional hurdle of navigating a separate link adds a barrier to impulse donations. 
  • Without speaking to someone on the other side, there is no scope to clear doubts or convince the hesitant. Plus, you can’t upsell for a higher amount. 
  • Young people prefer texting because it allows them to respond in time and space. However, this is offset by an inability to answer questions quickly. 
  • Having a phone conversation indicates this donor is more likely to be converted into a long-term supporter who may donate repeatedly in the future. Texting requires additional steps to cultivate a relationship. 
  • You can collect feedback and share impact more fully through a phone call than by texting. So, calling is better for repeat donors especially. 
  • The message must be short with a text blast, with limited scope for personalization or an engaging conversation. Phone calls can be more personalized through donor history – and of course, you can share a much longer pitch with the potential donor.  

Use case: Use text fundraising for the first ‘blast.’ Then, use telephone fundraising to call all who responded to texts, strengthening your donor base and bagging more repeat donations. 

Telephone fundraising Vs. mobile giving apps

  • A mobile giving app allows every aspect to be customized for the donor, maximizing the connection between the organization and the donor. This includes things like a customized home page displaying important details. 
  • Updates through the app are as simple as crafting a message and sending a push notification to how many thousands have downloaded the app. Calling each individual for updates is only sometimes feasible and represents a substantial time effort. 
  • Costs for a good mobile app may be high initially, but that is more of a one-time payment with periodic updates. You can contact your donors as often as possible for the same cost. Telephone fundraising requires an additional cost whenever you wish to contact the donors – since sending notifications via the app costs a minimal amount, but a calling campaign can get expensive. 
  • Ultimately, telephone fundraising is an active pursuit for increasing support, getting larger donations, and engaging existing donors. A mobile app is easy to maintain and update – but ultimately is a passive medium, depending on the donor using it in their own time to donate. 

Use case: Use mobile giving apps for existing donors – to engage and update them. Telephone fundraising is the best way to gain new donors and get large donations when needed. 

Mobile donating success stories


Democratic Presidential candidates: Path-breaking success 

Mobile donating was a big deal in American politics when Barack Obama transformed how to connect with potential donors and voters during the 2008 election. The Democratic Party candidate kicked things to a new level in 2012 when he raised over $1 million in a few months – just through text-to-donate. 

Candidate Bernie Sanders used a similar strategy to raise record-breaking funds while attempting to be the Democratic Party candidate in 2016.   

Comic Relief: Titan of text donations in its heyday 

Comic Relief, a British charity, has been operating for 35 years and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charity. 

But in 2011, they broke a unique record by raising an impressive 15 million pounds just through text donations. Amazingly, this was the first time donors could send 10 pounds via text. And it proved to be a path-breaking success, with 4.3 million text messages. 

Red Cross: The campaign that began it all 

The American Red Cross used text messaging as a key component of its fundraising efforts to provide relief for Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck the region on January 12, 2010. 

The organization established a keyword (in this case, “HAITI”) that donors would use in their text messages to indicate their intent to donate. 

Widely publicized, the organization was given $43 million in donations over six months, including $1 million in a single day. 

There have been strong criticisms of how the Red Cross used the funds after all the donations, but this remains a shining example of what is possible using mobile donating. 

Mobile donation apps

Mobile donation apps come in two flavors: One, for donors who can download the app and donate to a charity, and two, for organizations platformed on an app. Keep in mind that these platforms do charge the charities a platform fee. Here are some examples for donors and organizations: 

  • Donorbox: Donorbox allows organizations to simplify the donation process and uses major payment portals and options. Organizations can make customized donation pages and handle the entire payment process. 
  • RoundUp: RoundUp allows donors to give the change from their daily purchases to charitable organizations. It automatically rounds up the purchase amount and donates the difference. You can choose who gets the money. Pledge is another app that works similarly. 
  • Charity Miles: Charity Miles allows users to track their cardio activities and earn money based on the distance covered for their chosen charity. You can even involve your friends and family to donate to your causes. 
  • Fundraise Up: Fundraise Up uses AI to power donation suggestions for organizations, making it easy for donors to donate. You can also personalize your donor experiences and get new tools for donor retention. 
  • ShareTheMeal: This crowdfunding app is tied up with the United Nations World Food Programme. It allows donors to make small donations to specific projects and track progress. They currently have more than 1.4 million users. 

In closing, mobile donating can offer a convenient, immediate, and engaging way to connect with donors, expand your reach, and raise funds for your nonprofit’s mission. Text fundraising can be a valuable asset when integrated thoughtfully into your overall fundraising strategy.

The best way to get into telephone and text donations is by using easy-to-implement technology offered by Callhub. With a few clicks, you can launch your campaign with precisely the customization you need, with analytics to help you refine as you go. 

CallHub offers a comprehensive digital platform for fundraising, donor stewarding & organizing volunteer-led efforts. Drive action with powerful calling, texting, and email features powered by automation and 2-way integrations.

Find out more here. 

Please note: Both text and telephone fundraising need to adhere to relevant regulations, including privacy laws and restrictions on unsolicited communications.