United Way Launches Mobile Giving Initiative

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Tannersville, PA – Giving to United Way of Monroe County will now be easier and quicker than ever before, thanks to the launch of a new mobile giving initiative.

At a press conference at the United Way office this morning, 2011 Campaign Co-Chair George Roberts demonstrated how donors can instantly give $10 by texting or scanning a QR code from their smart phone. United Way has partnered with mGive, part of Denver-based Mobile Accord, to make this possible.

The “text to give” program will be kicked off this weekend at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, where the United Way of Monroe County will have a table before the races begin. By texting CARS to 50555 or scanning the QR code, donors will be able to contribute to the local United Way and its campaign for helping those in need.

“Our United Way is embracing the latest technology and innovative ways to reach and engage more donors and volunteers,” said Roberts. “Donations can be made on-the-spot and there is more top-of-mind awareness. While contributors will still be able to give to our campaign through donations at their workplace, we are trying to connect with brand new donors, including students and visitors to the Poconos.”

Co-Chair Connie Roberts gave thanks to GMDC Auto Sales in Blakeslee and Tannersville, and Hilltop Drive-in in Brodheadsville for sponsoring the United Way of Monroe County’s text to give platform. “We couldn’t have done this without their support,” she said. Because of the sponsorship, there is virtually no cost to the nonprofit.

The process is easy and seamless, noted Roberts. Donations are charged to users’ cell phone bills, collected from cell phone carriers, and distributed to the nonprofit organization. Plus, donations are identified as tax-deductible. Donors can give to United Way via text up to three times, explained Jen Cullin, who helped with the demonstration and is the interactive media, volunteer and TeenWorks coordinator for United Way of Monroe County.

Besides text messaging, the United Way is inviting cell phone users to sign-up for mobile updates. These updates or alerts can provide information on ways to give back to the community, how donations are improving lives, or getting involved with special events. Exclusive discounts will be offered from time to time to mobile network members.

While Pocono Raceway attendees will have the first chance to try the new giving technology, attendees at other upcoming events like township community days will have the opportunity to give by texting a different short code, “MONROE”.  People attending StroudFest, the United Way’s official campaign kickoff on Sept. 3, will also have this opportunity. And a fall event at ESU will strive to engage more students.

What will a $10 donation provide? It can cover two meals to a homebound elderly person, give a child a hearing or vision screening, provide an emergency food/gas card, or enable a visually impaired individual to attend a support group meeting.

United Way of Monroe County is following the trend of United Ways across the country, especially those in large metropolitan areas that are using text messaging for fundraising and cutting-edge constituent interaction. Mobile Accord and its mGive provider are the preferred partner of United Way Worldwide and about 50 United Ways nationwide. In the United States, there are 240 million mobile subscribers and 30 billion text messages are sent per month, according to Mobile Accord.

“Our board is supporting this new mobile platform because it will benefit our partner agencies and their programs, and our direct services,” said Curtis Rogers, board President of the United Way of Monroe County. “It all comes down to helping those in need, from preschoolers and single parent households to the disabled and elderly. We will be generating more funds and more awareness,” he added.

George Roberts, who formerly chaired the local United Way’s marketing committee, noted how all community outreach, online marketing and general promotional efforts will integrate the mobile technology. A specific portion of the organization’s website provides more information on the initiative: www.unitedwaymonroe.org/mobile.

Earlier this year, the United Way of Monroe County launched Facebook and Twitter pages. Its website has continually been upgraded and improved as well. George and Connie Roberts said the mGive initiative has been in the works for a couple of months.

The United Way of Monroe County provides health and human services through community initiatives and funding to more than 30 local programs. Its targeted need areas include Engaging Youth, Meeting Basic Needs, Helping Children Succeed and Promoting Self-Sufficiency. “Live United” is part of the United Way’s mission of giving, advocating and volunteering to produce lasting changes in the community and advance the common good. Various opportunities for volunteering, giving and advocating are available at www.unitedwaymonroe.org.