Text message idea catches on

Florida A&M raised more than  $7,600 during the first two weeks of a cell phone campaign to support the athletic department, according to the university.

The Mobile Giving Initiative to Support Rattler Athletics was launched homecoming week and so far organizers are pleased with the results, said Carla Willis, vice president for university relations and executive director of the FAMU Foundation, Inc.

“We are pleased but we need to have more Rattlers and friends of FAMU to support the initiative for it to be a total success,” Willis said.

Willis said the program started after the FAMU Foundation Board encouraged the university relations department to incorporate mobile communications into its fundraising efforts. The fundraiser launch was targeted to alumni returning to the Hill for the festivities.

“We especially want to attract those alumni who have not donated to FAMU in the past,” Willis said.

Willis along with Jeff Shaw, head of information technology initiatives for the division of university relations, lead the initiative.

The idea was to imitate the success of the Obama presidential campaign, which used cell phones as a fundraising tool, Shaw said.

According to Shaw, supporters can participate in the fundraiser up to five different times; however, each donation is limited to $5.

Shaw said about 1,474 students, faculty, alumni and friends have participated thus far.

The money will go to the athletic department as a whole and not to any specific sport, Willis said.

Shaw added that the decision of how to allocate the money within the department has been left in the hands of the Athletic Director Bill Hayes, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Although the current mobile fundraiser is geared for the athletic department, fundraisers for other entities will be implemented during the course of the next year, Shaw said.

Gregory Bradley, 28, a business administration alumnus, was one of the former students targeted during homecoming. Bradley said he donated to the project during the halftime show of the football game.

“I donated the $5 because I thought it was simple, so I went ahead and did it,” Bradley said.

Bradley said it was nice to see FAMU offer innovative and simple ways for people to donate to the university because some are interested in giving, but are not sure of how to go about doing so.

Willis said that the division could not successfully implement the plan without the support of the Office of Communications and the Division of Enterprise Information Technology.

The University Relations department is spearheading the initiative. Other companies accountable for the success consist of Mobile Accord and The Mobile Giving Foundation.

According to Shaw, Mobile Foundation is responsible for the approval that was given to FAMU for the project. The company is tied to cell phone carriers and are responsible for sending out alerts. Once approved by the students, the money is taken off of the bill by each cell phone provider and is sent to the mobile foundation, which in turn sends the money to FAMU.

Shaw said they are using other means such as Facebook, Twitter, Alumni Avenue and personal emails to push for the continual success of the fundraiser. Commercials have also been used to promote the initiative.

The fundraiser is an ongoing project and is one small component of the schools efforts to raise funds for athletics department. Other fundraisers can be found on the schools Web site at www.famu.edu.

“Text FAMU to 50555 and be counted as part of the campaign,” Willis said.