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Optus & Be.interactive give Red Cross donate by SMS facility

Optus mobile customers are now able to donate to Red Cross relief funds for specific appeals via SMS under a facility set up by Optus and digital marketing company, Be.interactive.

The initial projects are Red Cross appeals in the wake of the Christchurch and Japanese earthquakes. Pre and postpaid customers on the Optus network directly served by Optus can donate $5 be texting the words 'NZ' or 'Japan' to 19RELIEF (19735433).

Red Cross CEO, Robert Tickner, said the power of texting contributions had been demonstrated last year in the USA after the earthquake in Haiti when more than three million donors used text messages to donate $32 million to American Red Cross relief efforts following the Port-au-Prince quake.

The Haiti campaign, however, was $US10 per SMS and was part of an integrated campaign backed by many players in which awareness of the donation channel was widely publicised. According to one report: "AdMob, Eyeblaster, Jumptap, Microsoft Advertising, Millennial Media, Ringleader Digital and other networks were approached by mGive-Mobile Accord to develop the mobile advertising campaign designed to broaden the reach of the American Red Cross Haiti relief efforts via the organisation's text messaging mobile campaign.

"These mobile partners donated their time and ad-serving fees to enable the campaign across multiple publisher sites that donated their inventory for the campaign. The publisher sites, including MSN Mobile, Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger Mobile and E! Online featured banner advertisements allowing consumers to click on the ad to learn more about how they could donate to the American Red Cross, and providing the number (Text HAITI 90999) to make a donation."

A Red Cross spokeswoman told iTWire that, for these first two appeals in Australia, The Red Cross would be using Facebook and Twitter to promote the facility and Google was also providing a number of ad banners, but it could be widened to include other partners in future appeals. iTWire was unable to obtain further details of promotional activities for the Australian SMS system at press time.

She said that the Red Cross and used a similar system for an appeal last year but with limited success. The new system is intended to be a long term facility that can be used as needed. She said that previously the technology had not been available to support such a system.

An Optus spokeswoman told iTWire: "Our agreement with Red Cross is for the long-term - now that we have built the SMS donations capability, we can make it available to support other major Red Cross Disaster Appeals as needed."

She said there were no plans to extend the facility to other charities. "Our preference is to work with one major charity partner that can support a major relief effort both in Australia and overseas. Australian Red Cross was our preferred partner for this initiative because of the number of countries that they work in overseas and in Australia."

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