Text for life

I have recently become interested in the effects of texting for campaigns. At the University of Oregon Relay for Life we have a texting program that is being used to update participants and encourage further fundraising. I began to wonder, how effective is a text campaign?

Not everyone wants to receive twenty texts a day from one organization. Relay for Life is choosing to send out, at most, six texts a week. These texts include reminders of an upcoming relay participant meeting, or a fundraiser at our local pizza joint. As a college student texting is a big part of my life, whether I like to admit that or not is another story. Research shows that approximately 200,000 texts are sent per second around the world.

In January 2010 a terrible earthquake hit Haiti. The American Red Cross decided to approach fundraising for the victims through technology, thus the “Text for Haiti”campaign was born. The study discusses whether or not texting is a useful donation and fundraising tool for a nonprofit. Brooke Weberling and Richard Waters surveyed 500 people about their thoughts on texting campaigns. The results showed that many people believed a text campaign would be successful and helpful to an organization. But, when it came to actually participating in the text campaign more participants became hesitant.

Something to consider is the difference between “Text for Haiti” campaign’s success and United Way’s “Fit for Life” campaign. United Way’s “Fit for Life” campaign was promoted during the Super Bowl in 2009 through an television commercial. Why was one a success and the other a failure?

One of my answers to this question is people tend to be more responsive to a crisis situation. People in a crisis need help with others’ help with a snap of their fingers. With the push of a button the American Red Cross donated $10 for every text sent to “90999”. The urgency of a crisis parallels the urgency of a text message.

Even though Relay for Life’s approach is more of a device to remind participants about upcoming events and fundraisers, it is an indicator that text campaigns are on the rise. Who will be the next organization to create the next text campaign?

Waters, R. D. Weberling, B. Gauging the public’s preparedness for mobile public relations: The “text for Haiti” campaign. Public Relations Review. 38. 51-55.