I've talked a lot about the coming of mobile payments and their intersection with cause marketing on both my blog and at speaking appearances. It's something I'm really excited about. But up to now there hadn't been any sign in the water of this huge beast that would change giving and cause marketing with the same force The Whale shook Captain Ahab on the Pequod.
But the waters are parting and I see something rising: Give.mobi.
Developed by Tulsa, Oklahoma based CharityCall, Give.mobi may be the best option yet for businesses and nonprofits that want to partner and raise money via mobile technology.
Here's how Give.mobi works.
1. Shoppers scan a QR code which takes them to a custom giving page. The QR code can appear anywhere: on a register sign or product, in a sales flier, etc. Check out this QR code appeal from Cinnabon bakeries.
2. The first page highlights the details of the program, in Cinnabon's case a fundraiser for anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Users can also easily share the campaign with friends on Twitter and Facebook.
3. Click on "Give Now" to visit the donation page. An advantage here is that you can contribute more than you could with the $5 and $10 donations common to text giving. Not sold on donating on your phone? You can make a "pledge" by entering an amount and email address so you can receive a link to donate via PayPal, credit or debit card.
4. Once you enter a gift amount and click on "Give Now" you'll be asked to sign-in to your Paypal account and make a gift. Of course, the process isn't as easy if you don't have a PayPal account.
Give.mobi isn't free. There's a $75 set-up fee, $39 monthly fee and the company gets 5% of collected donations. You'll also have to pay PayPal 2.2% on donations plus 30 cents per transaction. You're basically paying around a buck for every ten dollars you raise. I can live with that.
Does this new mobile platform work? I was impressed that Cinnabon raised $3,800 for Share Our Strength in just five days. That's pretty good for a passive cause marketing program. The average donation was $43 and the average cost per donation was $3.40.
Cinnabon president Kat Cole is a believer: "The ability to reach out and allow patrons to donate using their mobile smartphones made a big difference."
Give.mobi is the best option right now for mobile cause marketing. You should give it a try. Bur remember: Give.mobi will have plenty of competition in 2012 as other mobile giving platforms are rolled out. Mobile is the future, the future of cause marketing and perhaps the future of giving.
But that doesn't mean the right platform is right around the corner or will always be smooth sailing.
Like the legends of white whales that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick, we'll have to chase down each new mobile development for fundraisers to see if it's for real or a fake. But Cinnabon's success with Share Our Strength proves that Give.mobi is not just another fish story.