Donating to charities via cellphones now available here in Canada

Pull out your cellphone, text a keyword and make a donation on the go. Mobile giving capitalizes on the popularity of text messaging and is launching in Canada today.

MONTREAL — Pull out your cellphone, text a keyword and make a donation on the go.

Mobile giving capitalizes on the popularity of text messaging and is launching in Canada today.

“We thought this was a way to help new donors be charitable,” said Bernard Lord, head of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

It’s aimed at younger people, who might not otherwise donate to charities, and lets them contribute small amounts at a time and get a tax receipt.

“In some cases people, can only give small gifts,” Lord said. “They don’t know how to do it and they don’t want to write a cheque for $5 or $10, but they can give $5 or $10 through their cellphone.”

Almost 100 million text messages are sent daily in Canada, Lord said.

Singer Alicia Keys raised thousands of dollars on the TV show American Idol by encouraging people to text $5 donations to help children with AIDS in Africa. It’s also being used at concerts and sporting events to raise money.

“We think it will reach mostly a younger generation, the new generation coming up, the 20s or 30s, but it could be anybody,” said Lord, the former Conservative premier of New Brunswick.

Donors text a numeric code and then a short word to give money via their mobile phones.

Consumers won’t have any sales tax or fees added to their donations, which will be included on their monthly bills from their wireless carriers, Lord said.

Non-profit organizations Plan Canada, Best Buddies and the Children’s Wish Foundation are among charities that are part of the mobile philanthropy effort so far.