Mobile phone companies could be stealing charity money

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Many people donate money to charity via mobile phone and are unaware that some of the cash may end up going to the operators, with smaller charities complaining they can lose as much as 20 percent of a donation via text message.

All mobile phone operators waived their fees for this year’s Comic Relief which made over £7m from text message donations alone.

They do this for all large one-off pleas such as those launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee and several big name charities.

However many charities are not free from the charges.

There could possibly be a backlash from consumers which is probably why O2 and Vodafone have scrapped all charges.

“We’re seeing a lot more charities use text donations and our customers keep telling us it’s an easy and simple way of supporting charitable causes,” said Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence.

“It would be great if other mobile phone companies followed O2 and Vodafone’s lead,” said Hannah Terrey, head of policy and public affairs at the Charities Aid Foundation.

“If they can waive the fees for all charities we think the others could lower their charges, though we are realistic that it costs to transfer money and it’s important that mobile phone companies sustain whatever they commit to.”

Three currently charges smaller charities five per cent commission, which they say is to cover its costs.

Whiile T-Mobile and Orange, which both give 100 percent to major charitable campaigns, charge 10 percent for donations above £2 and 20 percent below.

Both companies say they are planning to review and change their fees.

A spokeswoman for Virgin, which charges 11 percent for donations to smaller charities, said; “Work is under way to ensure all registered charities benefit from the full amount donated to them.”

There is also pressure on Apple to make an App which would allow people to donate to charities via iPhones.

At the moment Apple only accepts donations through a website or text message.

There is currently an online petition demanding Apple to create an App, which has received almost 40,000 signatures from around the world.

Hopefully in the near future it will be accessible to donate via any technology and with no charge fee.

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