October 1, 2013
The Surprising Link Between "American Idol" And Text-To-Donate Fundraising
As Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast in 2005, AT&T engineer Marian Croak found inspiration for what turned out to be a very good idea from a very unlikely source. FastCompany reports.
In 2003, AT&T had helped American Idol set up a voting system that relied on text messages rather than voice calls. This was a big deal. At the time, text messaging was still new. Some 22% of respondents to a 2008 informal poll on AT&T’s website said that they learned to text in order to vote on the show.
Now, Croak thought a similar system could be used to accept donations by text message.
“I know those sound like very different situations, but you can use the same implementation for both of those,” she says. Instead of conveying votes made by text message to an operator, in other words, AT&T could pass on donations made by text message to a charity. Customers would see the donation as a charge on their phone bills.
AT&T filed a patent for the idea on behalf of Croak and her coinventor, Hossein Eslambolchi, in October 2005, a couple months after Hurricane Katrina. Text donations didn’t make headlines until many years later, after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, when the relief organizations collected more than $30 million in donations by text message—sent $10 at a time by texting the word “Haiti” to a specified number. Though there hasn't yet been another round of text-message fundraising that can match the Haiti campaign, text messages have established themselves as a conduit for impulse disaster-relief donations.
Read full article.
The Permanent Link to this page is: http://textually.org/textually/archives/2013/10/032345.htm