Who are mobile donors?

Source: Real Time Charitable Giving: Why mobile phone users texted millions of dollars in aid to Haiti earthquake relief and how they got their friends to do the same

This is a study done by Pew Institute Research, a non-partisan think tank who maintains a strict code of ethics for their research.

The study measures mobile donations as part of the disaster relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Some of the key findings of this study include –

  • More than half of text donors who were first time donors with Haiti subsequently contributed to additional disaster relief causes.
  • Mobile giving is immediate.  Most mobile users donate immediately without doing additional research.
  • Most text donors heard about the mobile donation program via TV or word of mouth.
  • Most text donors did not follow up on the reconstruction efforts after their donation
  • Email, online, in-person, and text are the most popular ways to donate; phone calls and voicemails are the least preferred methods of communication.
  • Text donor are more tech savvy than the average American:
    • 24% own readers
    • 23% use Twitter
    • 83% use social networking
    • 74% use phone for internet
  • Text donors are similar to national average American in civic/social participation
  • Mobile givers are younger – 30% between ages 18-29, and more racially/ethnically diverse
    • Whites only 51% of text donors
    • African Americans 17% text donors

This study shows that while text donors more tech savvy on average, they are not necessarily more politically charged/active than the average American.  Mobile donors are either impulsive – or prefer to do their own research before committing to a donation.  While most mobile donors believe they are positively impacting the world, they do not proactively follow up on the efforts of the donation/cause.

The research is valuable to me because it shows the demographics and motivations of mobile donors.


Smith, A. (2012). Real time charitable giving: why mobile phone users texted millions of dollars in aid to Haiti earthquake relief and how they got their friends to do the same. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.


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