The latest advice to charities from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is clear.
If you want to communicate with a donor after they've donated by SMS you first need to ask them if that’s ok.
The person making the donation must give the charity their “fully informed and voluntary consent” before they can be contacted.
A charity must also be really clear about what the purpose of their particular call to action is; are you saying “do this, to give money” or are you saying “do this, to join with us and help”?
Data Protection advises that charities ask donors to send a second text message to confirm their consent. This “double opt-in” method ensures that the medium is rendered completely useless in terms of engaging with your supporters.
Charities need to spend time building close relationships with individuals in order to meet their fundraising targets.
There is another way however.
If you tell a person what they are agreeing to by virtue of sending a single text message, clearly with words and/or audibly, this must be a sufficient form of fully informed and voluntary consent?
If this method isn't a sufficient way to get consent, how is the same method sufficient enough to take money from their phone?
Comreg states that “Promotions must set out in a clear, unambiguous, legible and audible (if
spoken) manner, all material information that an average end-user needs to make an informed transactional decision and must not omit or conceal material information that is likely to cause the average end user to take a transactional decision that he would not have taken otherwise”.
If a member of the public makes a complaint because he/she claims they didn't read the poster or that they didn't really listen to the radio or TV advert – what do we do?
Comreg states “Promotions are unfair if the PRS Provider does not exercise the special skill and care which may reasonably be expected in an honest market practice or fails to act in good faith, and thereby causes, or is likely to cause, an average end-user to make a transactional decision they would not otherwise have taken, by impairing their ability to make an informed decision”.
If a charity creates a compelling advert that seeks to speak to prospective supporters, their response by text is testament to the fact that they care.
If they care, why would they be irritated to hear more? If they only want to give a small amount of money once, why would they feel unduly intruded upon if asked the question anyway?
We need to remember that the person has reached out to the charity in the first place. They haven’t been stopped in the street and nobody has knocked on their front door.
A sensible approach would surely be to first quantify what the actual potential for consumer harm is and then react accordingly.
Charities can’t accept that they must remain passive and be grateful for any donations people see fit to give.
Fundraising professionals must be permitted to actively reach out to their supporters using new technologies.
Traditionally reliable fundraising methods are becoming less sustainable and charities have to learn to engage with people in a way that is convenient and simple for them.
Worldwide charities are harnessing the benefits of new technologies to connect with people and to erode the old-fashioned costs associated with making those connections.
Finding the right time to ask for a donation is just as important as how you ask and mobile addresses this smartly.