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Obama Campaign Announces Text Donations Are Online Beginning This Week

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 23 2012

The Obama campaign announced this morning that it has begun offering supporters the opportunity to send donations via text message.

Beginning with Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular customers starting this week, supporters can give small donations — up to $50 a month for most carriers, according to a release from the campaign — by texting "GIVE" to a five-digit shortcode number put into use by the campaign.

In the scenario approved by the Federal Election Commission in a series of advisory opinions this summer, donations become pledges that are bought by an intermediary and resold to the campaign. This allows the campaign to get money in the door fast enough to comply with FEC regulations while also allowing carriers enough time to collect donations, which appear on each supporter's cellphone bill. The intermediary follows up with a trailing payment to make up any difference between estimated early payments and what the campaign is owed.

Campaigns have long hoped that mobile donations, which have shown promising returns for nonprofits, will allow for painless giving in politics as well. But consultants and mobile experts techPresident has spoken with in the past told us they're not sure campaigns smaller than the two presidential efforts will be able to do enough volume in mobile donations in order for the returns to be worth the cost.

The FEC advisory opinions were supported by both parties and the Romney campaign collects from small-dollar donors, too — don't be surprised to see something from Team Romney in the next week or so announcing that they've got the same type of program in place.

A version of this item first appeared in this morning's First POST for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers.