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Innovation Zone identifies cheaper access to SMS donations 18/04/07
Charities can now receive donations by SMS text message without facing hefty charges to mobile phone operators following the discovery of a new messaging product through the Institute of Fundraising’s Innovation Zone programme.

LUUP mobile donations, identified by the Institute through its work promoting new and essential products for charities, allows anyone over the age of 14 to pay, send and receive money by SMS or WAP.

Charities must fill in a registration form, and can then begin receiving donations immediately. There are no upfront fees, and LUUP only receives a fee when a donation is made. Accounts can be set up in a matter of hours.

The discovery of the LUUP service follows a survey of Institute of Fundraising members which found that an overwhelming majority of charities (89%) are held back from using text message donations due to the pricing structure of mobile phone operators. A further 84% said they would be likely to use it if the charges were lower.

Megan Pacey, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute, said she was pleased that the Innovation Zone had identified a mechanism that would allow charities of all sizes to receive mobile donations.

“The Institute has had an ongoing campaign to enable charities to receive SMS text message donations cost effectively,” she said. “Our attempts to work with the UK mobile operator industry in a cooperative and mutually beneficial manner for a considerable period of time have largely fallen on deaf ears. We are delighted that we have now identified another solution outside of the control of the UK mobile operator industry that will enable charities to solicit donations via SMS.”

Amnesty International is one of the first charities to set up an account with LUUP. New development business manager Katie Hart said: “In the past we avoided [SMS donation] as we felt its value was questionable and that it was too costly for donors. But LUUP presents a mobile payments option that is not only easy to use and very secure but also ensures the donation ends up with those who need it most.”

Christopher Lovold, LUUP’s UK director, said he was pleased the company had been able to fill a gap in the market. “Impulse donations are now a reality,” he added. “Charities are able to collect real-time donations from supporters anytime, from anywhere.”

Other products that impressed the Innovation Zone in February were LIFE, a simulator that can assist the forecasting of legacy income, and Charity Champions Maestro, a pre-paid charity debit card from Mastercard.

The Institute is now inviting suppliers to submit their products for the September session of the Innovation Zone.

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