I picked up on an interesting stream of tweets from @seanpowell last night.

He was attending a US benchmarking presentation from M&R Strategic Services and MobileActive on text messaging.

Following the American Red Cross's Haiti text campaign – which resulted in more than one million Americans donating over $26 million through $10 text donations – there's been a growth of interest in texting as a fundraising medium.

There isn't much publicly available data on success rates, so it's great that we have access to some detailed market intelligence based on campaigns undertaken by the American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife and Human Rights Campaign.

The key findings are:

  • 80% of texters were recruited via online routes (by entering their mobile number on advocacy, donation or text message sign-up pages).
  • Text lists grew at an an annual rate of just under 50%.
  • Most growth came from gathering mobile phone numbers from existing supporters.
  • Annual churn rate for text lists was 30.7%.
  • The unsubscribe rate was 0.69%.
  • At 0.92%, fundraising messages generated the highest number of unsubscriptions.
  • When charities texted people with a campaigning message, asking them to call a decision maker on behalf of the charity the success rate was 4.7%.
  • This compares to a response rate of 0.82% for campaigning emails that asked people to call a decision maker.
  • The average number of text messages sent each month by a charity was 1.6.

Sean's twitter stream also shared some anecdotal information that's worth mentioning:

  • $800,000 was generated by the Red Cross through misspellings of the word Haiti.
  • $2 million was raised via texting in 2009. Over $35 million has been generated so far during 2010.

The full study can be found here. It also points out a number of interesting text case studies that are worth a read:

How an aquarium used text messaging as a means to recruit new visitors (click here).

How Keep a Child Alive generated $450,000 from more than 90,000 texts after Alicia Keys broadcast a request for help to American Idol's 30 million viewers, generating a response rate of 0.3%! (click here for the PDF)

How The Humane Society used text messaging to uplift donations to an email campaign (click here).

You should also take a look at this survey of text givers to the American Red Cross – 19% said they would rather text a gift than give online or write a cheque.

I'd also recommend you visit Sean Powell's blog, The Give Grind. As well as sharing more thoughts on the text survey, there are number of great posts on online giving.