Golden Harvest campaign uses texting to reach new donors
by Eric Johnson
Thanks to Golden Harvest’s coaster campaign, donating money to help the hungry is as easy as texting.
“All you have to do is text the word COASTER to 52000 and that’s a $5 donation to Golden Harvest,” says Chris Turner, chief development officer for Golden Harvest Food Bank, the area’s largest food distributor serving those in need. “You don’t need to pull out a wallet or even look at your credit card. You just text and they confirm.”
Turner, who came up with the idea after a meeting meant to encourage innovative ideas, says the idea is simple and direct.
“I think what people have really been responding to is just the fact that it’s so easy to get involved with this,” he says.
The campaign, which doesn’t require any financial donation from participating restaurants, simply puts specially designed Golden Harvest coasters on restaurant tables for a three-month period. The coasters feature the Golden Harvest logo, instructions for how to make the donation and Kate, the food bank’s new mascot.
That’s the basic level of involvement. Restaurants can also come up with their own ideas. Applebee’s, for example, tracks donations by using coloring sheets.
“Now, every waiter or waitress at Applebee’s is going to ask if each table has made a donation, and if they have, that’s great — they get a coloring sheet to color there at the table or they can just write their name on it,” Turner says. “If not, they can ask if they’d like to. That’s just a way to engage every single person who comes to Applebee’s.”
Participating restaurants include Boll Weevil, The Chop House, DiChickO’s Peri-Peri Café, Roly Poly, Hooters, Fatz, Somewhere in Augusta, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carolina Ale House, Yosko, Vineyard Wine Market, French Market Grille, T-Bonz, Fat Man’s Mill Cafe, Cheddar’s, the Garlic Clove and Wild Wing Cafe.
The money from the donation is added to the customer’s cell phone bill at the end of the billing cycle.
Turner admits setting up such a system was complicated. A third party, called the Mobile Giving Foundation, had to approve their application, and then there is also a provider for the text service, in this case a company called Connect to Give.
How much are they expecting to make?
“This is such an exciting new thing,” Turner says. “To our knowledge, this is the first text to give campaign in the CSRA, so we’re really kind of open minded. It’s one of those things that could raise $5,000 or it could raise $100,000 — it just depends on how people receive it.”
Given the community’s track record of support, Turner and Golden Harvest expect people to receive it very well.
“I think Augusta is really open to new ideas and new ways of doing things,” he says. “Especially in the nonprofit world.”
And new ways of doing things often bring attention from different parts of the community.
“What I think makes this campaign so special is that the technology is making it possible to reach a brand new generation of donors who are excited about feeding the hungry,” he says. “We have a lot of donors that give through our traditional mail campaigns, and all of that is great, but this campaign is going to allow us to reach what I believe is an all new type of donor.”
Turner says the coaster campaign is expected to make the circuit around the rest of the 30 counties that make up the Golden Harvest service area.
“After we do this for the three months in Augusta, we’re hoping to push it into North Augusta and Aiken,” he says. “We’re hoping to rotate it though in three-month segments and take it back to Augusta next year at this time.”
Though Turner says that the summer lull that often affects donations hasn’t been as severe here as it has been in other locations across the nation, he maintains that the need continues to remain strong.
Last year, Golden Harvest distributed a total of 14.2 million pounds of food, including 136,244 pounds of food to an average of 1,419 students every week during the school year.You Might Also Like: