The Basics of Running a Mobile Giving Program

All mobile giving programs consist of a short code and a keyword

What is a short code?

Similar to a telephone number, short codes are special 5 or 6 digit codes used to route text messages from mobile phones to interactive mobile messaging applications, typically in combination with a keyword. They are designed to be shorter to read and easier to remember than normal telephone numbers. Short codes also allow for billing and other unique forms of interaction via the mobile phone such as television voting, ordering ringtones, alert notifications, and mobile chat services. MGFC mobile giving programs currently use short codes: 20222, 30333, 45678, 41010, and 80100.

What is a keyword?

Used in combination with a short code, a keyword is a word that differentiates a mobile giving program from others on the same short code. The keyword and short code combination allows mobile phone users to make a donation to a specific charity of choice. For example, an organization called Clean Water Planet might choose the keyword WATER and the short code 20222. In order to make a donation, mobile phone users would send the word WATER as the body of their text message to the short code 20222. Mobile giving campaign keywords can be up to a maximum of 8 characters in length and cannot contain any spaces or special characters.

What is a sub-keyword?

Sub-keywords can be a maximum of 6 alphanumerical characters in length, and may follow the campaign’s main keyword by a space or without a space. There is no limit to the number of sub-keywords that can be used. Sub-Keywords are used in instances where an organization needs to track funds based on the intent of the donor. Sub-Keywords are often used in the following scenarios:

  • To designate funds to various programs/initiatives within an organization.
    Example: Text SUPPORT FAMILY to 20222 to donate $X to our Family services program, or text SUPPORT HOMES to 20222 to donate $X to our Home Building Project.
    SUPPORT in the above example is the main keyword, but HOMES and FAMILY are sub-keywords.
  • To designate funds raised by various geographical locations.
    Example: Calling Albertans to text FUN AB to 20222 to donate $X.
    FUN in the above example is the main keyword, but AB is the sub-keyword, and so could ON, MB, SK, BC, etc., be used as sub-keywords to help you distinguish funds raised by users in different provinces. This could also be used for organizations that have multiple chapters across the country who all wish to promote a text campaign under the same keyword.
  • To designate funds raised by a number of individual volunteers.
    Example: Help support me in raising funds for Charity Name – simply text GIVEBACK001 to 20222 to donate $X

    GIVEBACK in the above example is the main keyword, but 001 is the sub-keyword.

Donation Amounts

Mobile giving programs not only consist of a campaign keyword and a short code number, they must also correspond with a donation amount, or multiple donation amounts. There are 4 set donation amounts available: $5, $10, $20, and $25. Programs may be run at any, all, or some combination of the options available. Mobile giving programs with more than one donation amount per campaign keyword offer mobile users the ability to select their donation preference during the first step of initiating a donation through text message. A mobile user may donate up to $30 per short code per 30 consecutive days.


All mobile giving programs use a standardized message script that includes variables to allow for differentiation between programs, variables such as the charity name, donation amount, and language. A standardized script allows for ease of message automation, consistency in donor experience, and compliance with the Canadian Common Short Code Application Guidelines.

Mobile giving programs are available in English or French. However, bilingual programs are also available. Bilingual programs allow the donor to select his or her language preference during the first step of initiating a donation through text message.

The bilingual feature and the multiple donation amount option can be combined. In effect these types of programs give the mobile user complete control over his or her preferences.

Engagement Options Through Opt-in

Customizable follow-up message:

MGFC has approval from participating wireless providers to permit the incorporation of a single follow-up message per donation amount as a part of any mobile giving program. This follow-up message is sent by text message to donors approximately 30 seconds after a one-time donation has been completed. Charities can customize the content of this message, but must ensure that:

  • The length of the message does not exceed 136 characters (including spaces).
  • The disclosure, “Data rates may apply,” is included within the message, if and only if, a web page link is also included within the message.

Other follow-up options:

In addition to the customizable follow-up message, there are alternative follow-up options designed for use in meeting various goals. These options are described below.

Only one follow-up option per donation amount is permitted.

  • Monthly recurring gift: available at $5, $10, $20, and $25. Mobile users can subscribe to automatically donate this amount on a monthly basis. These programs include a monthly reminder message and a billing message each month. Users have the ability to opt-out at any time by replying to any of the program messages with the word STOP.
  • Monthly recurring gift + customizable alerts: available at $5, $10, $20, and $25. Mobile users can subscribe to automatically donate this amount on a monthly basis and receive up to one customizable alert message from the beneficiary charity per month. These programs also include a monthly reminder and billing message. Users have the ability to opt-out at any time by replying to any of the program messages with the word STOP.
  • Monthly alerts subscription service: Ask mobile donors to opt-in to receive up to 3 text message alerts. Messages can be customized, but require the approval of MGFC prior to being sent. Messages can be scheduled for delivery to subscriber handsets in advance.
  • Consent-for-call: Ask mobile donors for their consent to receive a call from your organization. Those that confirm their consent by replying with the word CALL, are tracked and recorded as opted in users that accept to receive further contact by phone call.

Supporting Partners

Partenaires parraineurs

Canadian Telecommunications Association
IC Mobile