Is There a Non-Profit Discount for Short Codes?
If you're an eligible nonprofit organization or charity, were you aware that the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) offers special discount pricing on leasing dedicated short codes? If your nonprofit or charity meets the requirements set out by the CTIA, your organization can receive a 60% discount on commercial short code pricing.
If your organization meets the CTIA requirements, you can lease a dedicated vanity short code at discounted rate of $400/month, or a non-vanity dedicated short code for only $200/month. That's a savings of $600/month when leasing a vanity short code, and $300/month when leasing a non-vanity short code.
On this page, you'll not only find nonprofit pricing information for leasing a dedicated short code, but you can also learn about the "Guidelines for Mobile Giving", established by the CTIA-The Wireless Association. The "Guidelines for Mobile Giving" provides eligibility requirements for nonprofits and charities to receive their discounted short code lease pricing, in addition to information on acceptable short code uses.
“After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to Haiti’s earthquake to Japan’s tsunami, Americans have generously sent millions of dollars in charitable donations via their wireless devices. The ‘Guidelines’ will help provide consumers with peace-of-mind when sending a text donation while ensuring their accredited charities are in accordance to their donors’ intent.”
Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association.
CTIA Guidelines for Nonprofits & Charities
Nonprofits and charities have been using short codes to collect text message donations as far back as 2004, initially raising $200,000 for victims of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. Each year since 2004, the industry has seen an increase in the usage of short codes by nonprofits and charities, and as of 2012, even political candidates have started to use short codes for raising text message political donations and communicating to voters.
In 2005, nonprofits and charities used short codes to raise $400,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and in 2008, the American Red Cross raised over $190,000 to provide victims with relief from Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike. According to The Mobile Giving Foundation, mobile donations in 2009 done through a short code amounted to just under $4 million.
Then in 2010, a devastating earthquake struck in Haiti. Due to the national exposure of the text message donation campaign, and the large amount of donations collected through a single short code, this is when short code usage by nonprofits and charities really gained prominence. According to The Mobile Giving Foundation, within the first 36 hours after the Haiti earthquake, text message donations made through a short code surpassed $7 million. After 30 days, text message donations surpassed $32 million!
Given the increased interest in nonprofits and charities using short codes after the Haiti Earthquake, the CTIA collaborated with the major wireless carriers, mobile giving service providers, major nonprofits/charities and accreditation groups, to not only reduce the cost of leasing a short code for a nonprofit or charity, but also to develop a set of best practices.
On October 12, 2011, after month of hard work, the CTIA-The Wireless Association announced the release of their highly anticipated “Guidelines for Mobile Giving”. In the document, the CTIA outlined the specific eligibility requirements for nonprofits and charities to be eligible to receive a 60% discount on their short code lease. In addition, the document also addressed general guidelines as to how nonprofits and charities could, and couldn't use their discounted short code.
Below are both the eligibility requirements for nonprofits and charities to be eligible to receive a 60% discount on their short code lease, in addition to how those short codes could and couldn't be used.
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Nonprofit & Charity Short Code Discount Eligibility Requirements
The CTIA, with help from major wireless carriers, mobile giving service providers, major nonprofits/charities and accreditation groups, developed the following requirements for nonprofits and charities to receive a 60% discount on their short code leases.
If your nonprofit or charity meets all the requirements below, your organization will be eligible to lease a dedicated vanity short code for only $400/month, or a dedicated non-vanity short code for only $200/month.
- To be eligible for the 60% discount on your organization's short code lease, your organization must be qualified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
- In addition to your organization being qualified as a tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, your nonprofit or charity must also be accredited by at least one of the accreditation organizations below.
- Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance: To be accredited by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, a nonprofit or charity must have a current report on file with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. www.give.org
- Charity Navigator: To be accredited by Charity Navigator, a nonprofit or charity must currently have a 3 or 4 star rating on Charity Navigator. www.charitynavigator.org
Guidelines for Nonprofit & Charity Short Code Use
A significant portion of the CTIA's “Guidelines for Mobile Giving” details how nonprofits and charities can and can't use their discounted short code. If an organization that is using a discounted short code violates any of the rules developed by the CTIA below, they'll immediately lose their 60% discount, and will have to pay commercial short code lease rates.
- During the duration of the discounted short code lease, nonprofits and charities must maintain compliance with federal, state and local laws, and the SMS program must be TCPA compliant.
- The discounted short code must be leased directly from the Common Short Code Administration to the nonprofit or charity. There can't be any intermediary parties between the Common Short Code Administration and the nonprofit or charity that is using the short code. Don't worry though, your SMS provider can still assist you in leasing your discounted short code from the Common Short Code Administration.
- The 60% discount on a monthly short code lease only applies to dedicated short code. The discount does not apply to short codes that will be shared between nonprofits or charities, or commonly referred to as a shared short code. The only exception applies to chapter-based nonprofits or charities, where the short code is being used among all the organization's chapters, as long as there is a common organization name between all chapters.
- During the duration of the discounted short code lease, nonprofits and charities must be compliant with both the CTIA Acceptable Use Policy, and the MMA Guidelines.
- A nonprofit or charity may use a discounted short code for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to, mobile giving, mass text messaging, SMS polling, SMS voting, and SMS chat. The only stipulation to using a discounted short code for a variety of messaging is that each type of activity must require it's own opt-in.
- Non-Profits and charities that conduct unified fundraising campaigns such as United Way or Combined Federal Campaign may lease a single code in support of their unified campaigns. to perform Unified fundraising, a non-profit or charity must demonstrate that they have been in operation for at least five years.
- Discounted short codes may not be used for gaming related fundraising or donations (e.g., lotteries, sweepstakes, raffles).
- If your nonprofit or charity is using a discounted short code, that short code cannot be used to conduct commercial activities such as promoting the sale of clothing, or the sale of other products with the organization's logo or slogan on them.
- If a nonprofit or charity is using a discounted short code, they may not use that short code to solicit recurring subscriptions for mobile giving.
- Only the nonprofit or charity that is leasing the discounted short code from the Common Short Code Administration has rights to any use of the SMS subscriber information collected through the use of the short code. No other entity involved in the SMS campaign may use any part of the SMS subscriber data collected.
- When using a discounted short code, the nonprofit or charity may only use the SMS subscriber information collected through the use of the short code, for the campaign in which it was originally collected for.