Voluntary Sector: Call for text donation clarity

PROs say charities and mobile operators must be clearer on hidden donation charges.

PR professionals have called for greater transparency from charities and mobile phone operators over text message donations, as the Institute of Fundraising prepares to update its regulations on electronic fundraising.

The institute revealed last week that it is revising its Fundraising Through Electronic Media Code, following public complaints about mobile phone operators including admin charges for mobile phone donations.

Diffusion MD Daljit Bhurji, whose client experience includes Vinspired, Get Connected and Beatbullying, said it was essential that the new code set clear guidelines on informing the public about hidden charges in text campaigns.

'Transparency will need to be paramount and implemented rapidly to prevent the public losing trust in a channel that could be potentially raising hundreds of millions for good causes,' said Bhurji.

Arc Seven Communications director Alistair Clay seconded Bhurji's call: 'The growth in the number of one-off donation SMS campaigns, especially for large-scale humanitarian disasters, must be tightly regulated so the public knows exactly what proportion of their money will go to the recipient.'

Clay added that without this safeguard, trust in charities and NGOs would be affected.

British Red Cross director of fundraising Mark Astarita said that what while it was important that the process was transparent, a new code should not do anything to 'hamper this process or detract from the immediacy that text giving offers'.

Whizz-Kidz PR manager Rob Dyson said: 'What's important to consider, in my opinion, is the frequency of contact, and the transparency and ease of opting-out of text updates.'

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