Spelling Out Philanthropy for Donors Spurs
Them to Write Checks to a Private School
The code at the bottom of this ad from City
Harvest, in New York, can be scanned by
mobile phones and used to make a direct gift.
A New York Charity Adds
a Technology Twist
SEEKING PHILANTHROPIC GIFTS isn’t quite as hard as saying the word philanthropy or explain- ing what it means, at least at the Porter-Gaud
School in Charleston, S.C.
The school more than tripled year-end gifts to its
annual fund in part by asking students to say and
spell the word philanthropy and then capturing
that— and their community-service experiences—in
a video. The results are often hilarious, as fresh-faced youngsters (some so young their smiles are full
of gaps from losing their baby teeth) try the tongue
twister. Asked to describe philanthropy, one boy says
it’s like when his mother shot a pig, while another
says it’s when you “pull somebody” by letting them
ride in the back of a car. By the end, older students
articulately describe how they helped others.
The video is part of a larger effort to get parents,
students, and other school supporters engaged in giving, says June J. Bradham, a fund-raising consultant
who sits on the school’s board. To that end, she says,
Porter-Gaud borrowed an idea from the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals:
Instead of celebrating National Philanthropy Day on
November 15, as other chapters do, it celebrates for
an entire week—and now so does Porter-Gaud.
The school’s first Philanthropy Week, held in November, was an effort to educate teachers, parents,
and students about giving by bringing them together
on campus for educational events, community-service
projects, and other activities.
To help get the adults into the spirit of giving, the
school increased the minimum contribution to join
its giving society from $1,000 to $1,867, to remind
people of the year the school was founded. And for
the first time this year, parents could also go online
and “shop” as they made their annual-fund donation.
For example, they could “buy” something needed by
A funny video capturing students of all ages
at the Porter-Gaud School helped triple
year-end gifts to the institution’s annual fund.
a particular department such as auditorium lights
to help with fine arts. Or they could purchase something used in their kids’ classrooms, such as laptops
Porter-Gaud sought big gifts for the annual fund
by hosting an overnight meeting at nearby Kiawah
Island for people who gave $10,000 or more. Donors
were treated to a one-night stay at a resort hotel
where experts offered their perspectives on cooking,
yoga, and other topics. School officials negotiated dis-
counts on the hotel rooms, and most of the speakers
donated their time. “It is about mind expansion and
friendship building,” says Ms. Bradham. “We have a
lot of parents who move here from other places, and
we wanted the parents to bond.”
They seem to be bonding to Porter-Gaud, at least.
According to Matthew J. Gould, the school’s director
of development, Porter-Gaud has so far this year re-
ceived 28 annual-fund gifts of at least $10,000 total-
ing $310,000, up from eight gifts in the same catego-
ry in 2009 worth $97,700. —HOLLY HALL
to Its Holiday Appeal
CITY HARVEST, a charity that helps feed the hungry in New York, is banking on both high- and low-tech innovations to persuade more people to give this
The charity’s ads, which appear on bus shelters
and telephone kiosks and in print publications, display a new feature that makes it easy for people to
use their mobile phones to donate to City Harvest or
get more information. At the bottom of each ad is a
QR or “quick response” code, which looks like a bar
QR codes allow people to point their phone at the
code and get more detailed information about City
Harvest on their mobile screen. They can learn more
about the organization’s work or give money to the
Heather Wallace, City Harvest’s director of marketing, says that QR codes offer distinct advantages
over text-message donations, largely because people
can give as much as they want; text donations are
limited by most cellphone carriers to just $5 or $10.
Another advantage is that City Harvest can capture
donors’ contact information with QR codes; text-message donations are collected by the cellphone carriers so charities can’t easily get information about
To encourage as many people to use the QR codes
as possible, she says, City Harvest is placing its year-end ads only in places that make it easy to scan the
QR codes rather than on the sides of buses, subway
cars, and other moving targets where the group has
City Harvest is trying another new technique this
year: Instead of featuring a needy person or impoverished family, each ad has a photo of a donor or a
group of contributors and explains what their money accomplished. Each ad explains how the charity,
which rescues perishable food, puts donations to use.
“We often have people ask us why we need money
when we accept free food,” says Patricia Barrick, City
Harvest’s vice president of external relations. “We
wanted our ads to answer that question.”
Texting to the Red Kettle:
an Updated Approach
for the Salvation Army
TWO LOCAL Salvation Army units are enlisting young people to solicit gifts by mixing text messages with the charity’s traditional holiday fund-raising drive.
Instead of asking the volunteers to stand outside
and ring a bell in hopes that pedestrians will drop
money into one of the Salvation Army’s cast-iron Red
Kettles, the charity’s chapters in Dallas and Hamp-
ton Roads, Va., are asking loyal supporters to become
“mobile bell ringers.”
The charity asks its volunteers to text “bell” to
50555 on their cellphones. They then receive a link
on their phone to a mobile Web site where they regis-
ter, set a donation goal, and enter the mobile-phone
numbers of their friends whom they’ve asked to give.
These friends then automatically receive a text-mes-
sage request asking them to confirm that they want
to donate $10, a set amount. They have to reply yes
when they get the text message to make the dona-
tion. The goal for each mobile bell ringer is to ask at
least 10 friends to contribute.
To make the appeals more evocative of the old-style
approach, mobile bell ringers can download a special
ring tone that sounds just like the bell used in the
kettle campaign on the street. They can also track
donations made on their behalf by friends and their
progress against other mobile bell ringers.
“In today’s era, the way to connect with younger
donors is through technology, and so we’re using a lot
of things to build a stronger social-media program,”
says Patrick Patey, spokesman for the Salvation
Army Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Command.
One drawback of the mobile drive is that it’s a mul-tistep process that may take time to get used to for
both the volunteer fund raisers and the friends they
solicit. It might just be easier to ask friends to say,
Salvation Army units are encouraging
volunteers to raise money through their
cellphones by becoming “mobile bell ringers.”
text “dogood” to 90999, which is another way to do-
nate to the Salvation Army by mobile phone. The text
code is based on the charity’s slogan, “doing the most
The history of text-message giving is not very rosy
for the two cities doing the experimental run.
At the Dallas-Fort Worth unit, two years’ worth
of mobile-phone fund raising garnered less than
$3,200. And in Hampton Roads, Va., the Salvation
Army brought in just $500 this year, the first time it
has run a text appeal.
“It hasn’t brought in tremendous amounts,” admits Matt Pochily, spokesman for the Tidewater Area
Command. But he says that fund raising is secondary. “Our goal is more for impressions than it would
be monetary right now,” Mr. Pochily says. He hopes
that this attempt at reaching out to young donors
with new technology will create conversations and a
new image for the 145-year-old organization.
“It’s important to find new folks that can be advocates for the Army in their younger age and well into
the 21st century,” Mr. Pochily says.