Vodafone has become the first UK mobile operator to pass on 100 per cent of all charitable donations made through SMS. UK charities will now receive the full amount donated by Vodafone customers when they give £1 or more through a five-digit ‘short code’ number which starts with 70. Donating through text messages has become increasingly popular, especially in response to high-profile emergencies (in the first few days after the January earthquake in Haiti, for example, $33 million was raised by text messaging).
Mobile networks and third-party service providers in the UK levy between 15 and 20 per cent on text donations, according to figures produced by Charities Aid Foundation in May (though Vodafone’s fees were apparently 10 per cent on donations of £1, £1.50, £3 and £5), but they have come under some pressure to reduce or waive this amount. Last June, UK SMS provider Win waived its fees on text donations and called on mobile operators to follow suit. Vodafone’s announcement is certain to increase this pressure. Its customers will still pay their standard rate for the SMS to make the donation.