Think Before You Text (Your Donation)

  • By MP Dunleavey
  • March 14, 2011


Survivors of an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami lie wrapped in blankets at the Red Cross operations centre in Miyagi prefecture March 11, 2011. Photo source: Reuters.comThe plight of the Japanese people is agonizing to watch. Naturally, your first instinct may be to donate as quickly as possible. But there are reasons to think before you text your money.

Texting a donation is easy, but it’s not instantaneous. It takes about 90 days for your money to get to your designated organization, according to mGive, the leading mobile donation platform (and a charity itself).

Some organizations allow 5-10% of your donation to go to mGive to cover admin costs. “It’s not ridiculously high,” says Deborah Hirt, research manager at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. “But it’s something you should be aware of.”

The most efficient way to give is to donate online, through a charity’s secure website, says Hirt. “Organizations know instantly that they’ve received a gift.” (Although a similar percentage of your cash goes toward online administrative fees.)

But in many ways, using a good old-fashioned check is the most direct way to reach the cause of your choice—and studies show that people who send checks often donate more money, says Hirt.

Also consider is whether the organization you’re supporting is effective on the ground, and has experience in the stricken country. “We saw many organizations with good intentions rush to Haiti, and rush to raise money, but they ended up pulling out quickly,” says Jeff Nene, spokesperson for the charitable organization Convoy of Hope, which is raising money for Japan.

Nene and others recommend Charity Navigator to find reputable organizations providing relief.

Tagged in: Charity