Telco charity to pilot on-bill donations program

Wide telecoms-industry participation could eventually help Telco Together Foundation funnel millions per month to indigenous, refugee, homeless and mental-health charities.

A telecommunications charity organisation will within weeks begin a trial of a bill-based contributions program that could put millions of dollars into the pockets of a range of charitable efforts, the group’s CEO has confirmed.

According to Telco Together Foundation (TTF) CEO Renee Bowker, by November the organisation will begin a trial in which some 25,000 telecommunications customers, across a range of carriers, would be given the option to add an automatic donation to their telco bills as an easy way of informal giving.

On-bill donations could raise millions for charities: Bowker. Photo: David Braue

“There are 25 million bills getting sent out across the industry" every month, Bowker told the recent CommsDay Melbourne Congress.

“The idea of potentially adding a donation capability onto these bills has a massive impact, potentially, around introducing new funding into the charity sector. This pilot program will help our members roll out a donation program to help with the donations they want to look at.”

The program is just one of numerous fundraising efforts Bowker has co-ordinated with its 19 member telecommunications providers – including Optus, NBN Co, Vodafone, Dodo, M2 Telecommunications, iiNet, AAPT, Community Telco, BigAir, Vocus and others – since the TTF was formed a year ago.

Others include a climb of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro next week that has already raised over $50,000 in pledges; January relief efforts that delivered 350 volunteers and over $9,000 to the Red Cross Tasmanian Bushfire Appeal; and $150,000 raised for various community partners.

Beneficiaries of TTF include homeless-support group Second Bite; mental-health organisation Inspire; indigenous-health group Red Dust; and refugee-support charity Sports Without Borders.

Partner efforts have also proven highly effective at raising charity support: a recent M2 Telecommunications channel conference, for example, saw more than $45,000 raised and distributed to charities through TTF. And, in July, executives at the Communications Alliance & CommsDay ACOMM Awards raised $75,000 for the organisation in three hours.

Another TTF program, Ask for Change, is looking at promoting the use of mobile technologies and apps within the not-for-profit sector; work with member Informatel helped develop a low-cost app for charities and educational services to help them benefit from mobile technology.

The billing-donations trial – which will explore GST management, receipting and other logistical issues – is expected to be expanded across TTF members’ billing businesses over time, with some 13 million customers targeted to sign up for facilitated donations.

“You don’t have to be a maths genius to figure out that if you get just a small percentage of all bills, to have even a $1 donation on the bill would put a large amount of money into these charities,” Bowker said. “Communications technology is a key enabler for business and the community, and that puts us in quite a unique position to do some significant good within the community.”