The crowd emulates with emotions as the closing band performs it final number. The setting is a natural amphitheatre in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band takes the stage and plays a song that calls for change, for a world of hope rather than fear, and for individualism. This is the perfect situation to utilize a new charity and way of giving: donating via text message.
Stern Grove is an organization that provides admission free access to a diverse variety of performing arts. From the performances of Bay Area R&B icon Booker T. Jones to the production of classical masterpieces from the San Francisco Symphony, the weekly programs demonstrate a heterogeneous mixture of entertainment that serves to teach, delight and enlighten. Stern Grove Festivals have been committed to this mission since 1938. Throughout the summer season, Stern Grove produces concerts for every Sunday at 2 PM. Admission is free, if you can find a spot.
While Stern Grove provides this entertainment free of charge, it operates a $2 million a year budget, making it dependant on endorsements and large donations. Tired of its dependency and committed to its cause, Stern Grove decided to take matters into its own hands. Stern Grove Festivals paired with Denver-based Mobile Accord, Inc. in order to find a "tech savvy" solution, something that appeals to a younger audience.
As of June 15, 2008, Stern Grove began asking its audience to text GROVE to 90999 if they wished to give a donation of $5 for their evening of relaxation and delight. This provides a medium for the grateful to give if they want to, something that was not an option before. Stern Grove was able to raise a few thousand dollars, a strong beginning that indicates more to come. This is a strategy that has been used successfully by other nonprofits as well. Alicia Keys has raised $40,000 in a single concert by providing a call to action, evoking the sympathy and emotion of a crowd at a given moment, and urging them to act by donating through the use text messages, a technology service provided by mGive.
mGive has pioneered a new trail into the frontier of charity and social giving by using technology as its vessel. Never before has a person been able to ask a crowd to give money to a cause at that given moment without the use of cash or credit cards. Nonprofits, like other companies, must acknowledge that technology is the future, and embracing it will equate to their success. It will require other trailblazing nonprofits, like Stern Grove Festivals, to seize this opportunity to raise funds from text messages in order to change not only themselves for the better, but also the entire world.