Amnesty hits your wallet and Planned Parenthood your ear - What's Next?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 01, 2007

Amnesty International announced yesterday that it will accept payments on the UK via mobile phone that will get more money to the charity.  Billed as a "digital wallet", LUUP, the mobile payment vendor that Amnesty uses,  will " make it easier for people to make donations. Says Amnesty: "It will also enable the human rights organisation to receive up to 15 per cent more of the money than via PSMS methods such as regular text."

The UK arm of Amnesty ruled out premium rate text messages for donors as too costly. In Europe and in the US, network operators take a significant percentage of the revenue of premium texting -- up to 50% in some cases, and donations are limited to what are essentially micro contributions.  Using LUUP, however, means that donors can give up to £800 in the UK to Amnesty International, for example.

To encourage donations, LUUP wil add to the money received by donors an additional 20 per cent. Once signed up to a LUUP account, users can also use the service for sending money via SMS to friends via their mobiles and other mobile payment. If the recipient isn't a LUUP member, they'll be sent a text, inviting them to sign up. Users can they keep the money as part of their LUUP account or transfer it to their traditional bank account.

LUUP is currently available only in a few countries in Europe, but mobile payment systems are springing up all over the world, such as India and part of Africa where Safari and other mobile carriers and vendors see huge potential for offering banking services to the currently "unbanked," as the parlance goes.

Meanwhile, In the United States, Planned Parenthood is rolling out a new service with Working Assets, a progressive telecommunications provider.  According to the press release,  Planned Parenthood Wireless will provide 10% of revenues generated directly to PPFA. Planned Parenthood Wireless features competitively priced calling plans, and popular cell phones (I have seen some and they look fine). Working Assets uses the Sprint® network that reaches more than 250 million people in the United States but it limited to this country.

“Planned Parenthood members care passionately about women’s reproductive health and rights,” said Cecile Richards, PPFA president (and the daughter of the late American politician Ann Richards). “Now they have a smart, simple way to support our work and express that passion with every phone call they make, through a wireless service provider that cares.”

Not to be outdone, the other side is already offering similar services.  The Missouri-based Pro Life Communications offers long-distance, local telephone, nationwide cellular, Internet, and soon satellite television services. The company donates about 15% of the monthly bill customers pay to anti-abortion causes.  Another company, Amerivision Communications and it's Affinity 4 brand offers similar services, including pre-paid mobile, credit cards, and DirecTV service.  The company gives 10% of the monthly usage bill back to the pro-life organization of the customer's choice and has contributed more than $75 million to Christian and pro-life groups, according to a recent article.

Charities clearly have discovered telecommunications services as a way to garner financial and political support, and with the mobile market booming it was just a matter of time before our wallets and ears are hit hard.  What will be next?


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