Home Text to Save Lives: Mobile Giving Takes Off

Text to Save Lives: Mobile Giving Takes Off

Last month, both China and Myanmar suffered natural disasters of such huge proportions that they received the attention of the world. The combination of the quake and the cyclone left a death toll that is today approaching 200,000, but has affected millions more. Many of us have read the news but have been so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we haven’t been able to find time to give. However, new mobile “text-to-give” services will help make charitable donations faster and easier to do.

Last month, we informed you how you could use social media for social change. Today, we’ll tell you how to use something a little closer at hand: your cellphone.

Help China & Mynmar

Starting today, customers of Verizon Wireless in the U.S. can donate to a charity called “Save the Children,” who has mobilized in this time of crisis to provide lifesaving assistance in these two affected regions. Verizon customers can text to the address 4SAVE (47283) with the keyword “quake” to contribute to earthquake relief or the key word “cyclone” to contribute to cyclone relief. They will then receive a reply asking them to confirm their donation of $5.00, which will appear on their next monthly bill.

In China, they’re doing the same thing – China Mobile customers can text the number ‘10699988’, and write the amount they would like to donate (from 1RMB to 30RMB) in the body of the text. The money will is deducted from either their phone bill or prepaid card.

Text to Give

PayPal has had a section of their web site devoted to charities that you can donate via text. Currently, the charities you can donate to this way include Amnesty International, UNICEF, and Starbright.

Anytime you see an ad that says “Text To Give,” it’s simply a matter of texting the code to the number provided. PayPal calls you back to confirm your donation and then you’ll receive your receipt by email.

To use PayPal mobile, you must first activate your phone. Then, select one of these current codes:

  • Text AMNESTY to 78787 to donate $10.00 to Amnesty International
  • Text WATER to 78787 to donate $10.00 to UNICEF’s program to help supply those in need with clean drinking water.
  • For the Starlight Starbright foundation, you can donate one of three different amounts to help seriously ill children: Donate $5: Text 5 to 78787

    Donate $15: Text 15 to 78787

    Donate $30: Text 30 to 78787

Of course, once your phone is registered, you can send money to anyone via PayPal’s SMS commands.

Mobile Giving/Social Giving

There’s also a new site that’s involved in allowing people to donate to charities via text. The site is called mGive, and here, non-profits can register themselves and the keyword they want in order to receive a short code for mobile donations. The texters pay the donation amount on their mobile bill and mGive collects that from the cell companies and distributes it back to the non-profit.

One of mGive’s current campaigns involves Alicia Keys’ efforts with the Keep a Child Alive Foundation, which is a response to the AIDS pandemic in Africa. U.S. users can text “ALIVE” to “90999” to donate $5 towards this cause. This service works on AT&T, Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.


mGive works with a group called the Mobile Giving Foundation, a newly launched effort with a large amount of support from Qualcomm. The Mobile Giving Foundation was set up to help move the money from the cell phone carriers to the charities. This organization is currently working with over 20 large charities, like Keep a Child Alive (mentioned above), and more. Since the foundation has just launched, there are only a limited number of campaigns running, but its current roster that includes ASPCA (text Give to 27722), Alicia Keys Keep a Child Alive Campaign (text ALIVE to 90999), and FIT to UNITED (864833). In the future, there will be campaigns with PBS, IFAW, and others.

More Soon

Mobile Giving is certainly a growing trend meant to capitalize on the ubiquity of cell phones and their heavy use by members of the younger generation. We’ll definitely start seeing more of these “text to give” campaigns in the future, but it seems that, today, only Verizon seems to offer a campaign for China and Myanmar aid, which is disappointing.

A rise in mobile giving will also give rise to mobile charity scammers – in fact, it already has, both in China and in the U.S., so be on guard against unsolicated SMS text messages asking for donations.

Do you know of any good text-to-give campaigns? Let us know in the comments.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.