The Haitian relief effort has attracted a well-document outpouring of donations via text message. But an recent poll suggests people don't necessarily trust texting as a means of charitable giving.
An online consumer survey by Forrester Research that asked people if they thought money donated through texting actually went where it was supposed to, found only 16% (of 134 respondents said yes. Thirty-two percent said no, and 51% just weren't sure. Most felt that companies involved in the process, like phone carriers, would take a cut for administrative fees, and that they would be better off donating directly through the sites of organizations like the Red Cross.
Forrester concluded that the reaction is consistent with broader research showing consumers' general wariness with trusting companies. "So while the idea behind being able to simply text and donate seems like a great use of technology, it's missing one important piece to fully realize it's true potential: consumer trust," noted Forrester analyst Jackie Anderson in a blog post.
The carriers' limiting Haiti text donations to $5 to $10 has probably been a big factor in allaying concerns about where the money was going (and there is always the chance for abuse). The smaller the donation the less risk involved. And mGive, the mobile donation company that has raised $37 million for American Red Cross and other Haitian relief groups, says it has in place more security measures than general online donations.
They include a carrier requirement to vet all charities before they can be included in mobile giving campaigns and not requiring people to use their credit cards to make contributions, avoiding phishing scams.
Could mGive raised even more if people had more trust in donations sent by text? Who knows? But apparently, even a little trust can go a long way.