North Texas Food Bank's Text Donation Program Falters

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Mobile giving, which was touted in the wake of the Haiti earthquake earlier this year as a high-tech way of invigorating philanthropy, hasn't panned out for the North Texas Food Bank.

The hunger relief organization rolled out its text-to-give program this month, and has thus far collected only $660. But the more worrisome statistic reveals how many people are backing out of the transaction after texting "NTFB" to 89544: Of the 82 potential givers who've punched the numbers into their phones, only 62 have clicked through the "Are you sure you want to donate?" confirmation page.

Spokeswoman Paige Phelps says she isn't sure why one-quarter of texters haven't consummated their $10 pledge.

"There's no way to know what made people back out (Did they not notice the confirmation? Did they change their minds? Not sure.)," Phelps e-mails. "They wouldn't be texting the food bank for any other reason than to give."

Text donations became front-page news last January, when the American Red Cross used the system to raise more than $5 million in $10 increments for its earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The figure represented three times the amount of money raised via text by all American charities in the previous two years, making the crisis a watershed moment for nonprofits that traditionally had trouble connecting with young givers.

There are now countless opportunities for text donations: There's a mobile giving option embedded in This American Life's podcast, and a plea for text donations pasted on the final wall of the African mask exhibit now at the Dallas Museum of Art.

But Phelps is hoping the concept has retained its usefulness, if not its novelty.

"We need your help!" Phelps writes.

According to a release issued yesterday, donations to the food bank are down 12 percent from last year.

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