Short Code FAQ  > Can I Collect Text Message Donations with a Short Code?

Can I Collect Text Message Donations with a Short Code?

Text message donations can be collect through a short code, as long as your non-profit meets the non-profit qualifications set up by the wireless carriers.

Did you know that nearly one in ten US adults have made a charitable contribution using text messaging on their mobile phones? Now with your 501(c)(3) organization can accept text message donations. How does it work? It's actually very similar to how organizations such as the Red Cross were able to collected an estimated $43 million, in the aftermath of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake.


Text Message Donations - Text Haiti to 90999 (Red Cross)

Nonprofit Qualifications for Text Message Donations

To be qualified to accept text message donations, a nonprofit must meet all of the Mandatory standards, and 3 or more of the Preferred standard below.


Mandatory Standards:

  • The organization shall be exempt from income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (includes filing a 990 annually and reporting gross revenues of at least $500,000.00 on such 990);
  • The organization shall be registered as a soliciting charity in all states in which the solicitation will occur. In the event of multi-state solicitations, the NPO must be a registered as a soliciting charity in all states requiring registration, unless sponsored by a qualified 501(c)(3) organization who is registered in all states requiring registration;
  • The organization shall be in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws including remaining current with all required filings (includes US Patriot Act Compliance);
  • The organization shall be in good standing in its state of incorporation and have been operational for at least 1 year;
  • The organization shall make only truthful representations to the public with respect to its fundraising, finances, operation and solicitations;
  • The organization shall be accessible and responsive to the public and shall have a donor privacy policy that allows for donor opt-outs.

Preferred Standards:

  • The organization shall have an elected and volunteer Board of Directors of at least 5 members that has at least 4 meetings each year;
  • The organization shall measure its effectiveness through assessment tools every two years;
  • The organization shall have a well-defined mission statement and operate programs that work to efficiently achieve that mission;
  • The organization shall spend its funds in a prudent and transparent manner;
  • The organization shall accurately report its expenses and make such information, financial statements and annual reports openly available to the public.

Frequently Asked Text Message Donation Questions

Text Message Donation Statistics

Want more information about how donors are using text message donations, and the impact this is having on nonprofits? Back in 2012, the Pew Internet Project, in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the mGive Foundation, conducted the first in-depth study of text message donors. The insights gathered in the study came from phone surveys with 863 individuals who used text messaging to donate to the Red Cross, after the January 2010 Haiti earthquake. Below are some of the interesting insights that were discovered about text message donors.

  • 89% of text message donors heard about the Text to Haiti effort on television.
  • 50% of donors made a text message donation immediately after hearing about the campaign. An additional 23% of donors made their text message donation on the same day they heard about the campaign.
  • Unfortunately, after making their text message donations, 43% of donors surveyed said they have "not too closely" followed the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Haiti. 15% of text message donors said they had "not at all" been following the ongoing efforts in Haiti.
  • 75% of text message donors said their donation was a spur-of-the-moment decision, where 21% of text message donors said they did research before making their donation.
  • 56% of text message donors that contributed to the relief efforts in Haiti, have since made another text message donation to other disaster relief efforts.
    • 40% of Haiti text message donors reported making a text message donation to groups assisting people living in Japan after their March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
    • 27% of Haiti text message donors reported making a text message donation to groups helping people living in the US Gulf region following the 2010 BP oil spill.
    • 18% of Haiti text message donors reported making a text message donation to groups helping victims of the 2011 tornadoes in the United States.
  • 43% of text message donors encouraged family and friends to make similar text message donations. 76% of these donors that encouraged family and friends to make similar text message donations were successful in their efforts, saying that their family and friends did indeed make a text message donation after their encouragement to do so.
  • To spread the word, the majority of text message donors (75%) did so by talking with others in person.
  • In regards to donation method preferences, 25% of donors prefer to donate via text message, followed by 24% of donors preferring to do so online via a web form.
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