Charity Tries Texting To Make Up For Donations

fromWFAE

Like many charities, donations are significantly down to the United Way in Charlotte, North Carolina. In June, it announced cuts to nearly every member agency. The problems have continued. Now the United Way is trying a new way to raise money: texting.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And charities across the country have seen donations decreased. Meanwhile, the need for their services is rising. Many groups are searching for new ways to raise money.

Greg Collard of member station WFAE in Charlotte have this report on one new strategy.

GREG COLLARD: Last year, the United Way of Central Carolinas fundraising campaign fell $14 million short. Things haven't improved so Shannon Young of Charlotte's United Way says:

Ms. SHANNON YOUNG (Vice President, United Way of Charlotte): We really started trying to think outside the box.

COLLARD: It's using applications on Facebook and Twitter for help and the cell phone. Last week's NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins included a plea from the stadium's giant score board: Text your donation and that money will be added to your phone bill.

Last year in Minnesota, the United Way of Twin Cities held a similar three-week campaign and raised $20,000.

Todd Cohen publishes the Philanthropy Journal. He says more charities are exploring social media.

Mr. TODD COHEN (Editor and publisher of Philanthropy Journal): If that's how people are communicating, then nonprofits need to understand that you got to reach people in the way that they communicate.

COLLARD: But technology comes with risks. In Charlotte, people encountered error messages at the football game. The United Way says it got only a few hundred dollars in donations. But the charity is not giving up on text message fundraising.

For NPR News, I'm Greg Collard in Charlotte.

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