Anchorage Nonprofit Starts Text Giving Program

A non-profit in Anchorage is the first organization in Alaska that can receive donations by text message.

Bean’s Cafe and the Children’s Lunchbox are now able to receive cash through mobile giving. Ken Miller is the development director for Beans and the Children’s lunchbox. He says millions were raised in a short time by text giving to the Haiti relief fund. He says at that time mobile giving was under the purview of large organizations.

“And then smaller nonprofits began to utilize the service, it’s very economical to get in to. And what it gives the opportunity for the nonprofit to do is get small donations from a different group than maybe their most common individual they’ve been getting donations from in the past. It’s a much younger crowd that’s comfortable with text donation and mobile giving,” Miller said.

It’s a simple process. You text a key word to a number.

“And the key word for Beans café is Beans B-E-A-N-S and I would text that word to 50555. If I wanted to make a donation to the Children’s Lunchbox, I would very simply text in K-I-D-D-O, which stands for kiddo, to 50555,” Miller said.

Once you’ve done that, a message asks you to confirm your $10 donation. If you do, the donation gets added to your mobile carrier bill. Miller says they’ll get all but about 30 cents of each donation and a person can donate up to three times. He says no other non-profits in the state have used this fundraising method yet, but he thinks it would help out others beyond Beans. The transactions are handled by an Outside company.

Miller stresses a ten dollar donation goes a long way when it only costs Beans about a dollar twenty to provide a full meal.

“You have an opportunity to serve seven, eight individuals a hot meal and provide services, whether it’s social services, whether it’s transportation services, whether it’s just shelter during the day and night to an individual in the community that’s in need,” Miller said.

Bean’s Cafe serves between four and five hundred meals each day. You can also help out the Children’s Lunchbox program this weekend by donating food at the Spenard Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori