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Red Cross pairs digital ads with mobile to drive donations

The American Red Cross has placed digital ads on more than 35 interactive touch screens around Chicago to drive mobile engagement and donations during the busy holiday season.

While soliciting donations from holiday shoppers is an important fund-raising tactic for nonprofits such as The American Red Cross, this has become more challenging in recent years as consumers increasingly carry less cash. With this in mind, The American Red Cross is giving shoppers in high-traffic areas around Chicago a way to donate to the nonprofit via a link sent directly to a user?s mobile device.

?This partnership is allowing us to maximize opportunities by creating a surround-sound effect,? said Veronica Vasquez, communications manager at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. ?Cross-channel integration and consistency of messaging and experience across online/digital channels, as well as offline channels, are key for success.

?Providing multiple digital entry points into the organization allows the donors to decide how they want to interact with the organization, and how they want to turn their compassion into action,? she said.

Click to donate
The American Red Cross partnered with elevate Digital, which has a network of more than 70 interactive touch screens located in high-traffic areas of Chicago such as Navy Pier, Soldier Field and Water Tower Place.

Over the next few weeks, more than half of these screens will feature an interactive advertising campaign and custom application for the Red Cross.

The app provides consumers with information on the initiatives of the Red Cross.

Users can send messages to their email or mobile device.

An interactive photo app includes a special frame and message that says "I support the American Red Cross.? The photo frame is delivered to the user via email and includes the donation hyperlink, which users can click on to make a minimum $10 donation via PayPal, credit or debit card.

?Elevate Digital screens create an interactive video call to action for the American Red Cross by attracting users to engage with a multi-sensory experience,? said George Burciaga, CEO of elevate Digital. ?Elevate is creating engagement with a unique and fun brand experience to build awareness at street level.?

Mobile tipping point
The Red Cross has been active in mobile for several years. Initial efforts focused on leveraging SMS to raise funds for natural disasters, helping the organization raise millions of dollars for multiple disasters over the past few years.

More recently, the nonprofit has been extending its mobile reach via apps and other strategies.

This summer, the charity introduced a technology-based training program for disaster relief volunteers enabling them to access information remotely through mobile devices (see story).

Earlier this year, the Red Cross reported that it had reached tipping point with most of its traffic from some kind of mobile device (see story).

?Mobile changes expectations from the public,? the Red Cross?s Ms. Vasquez said. ?Technology is a fundamental shift in the way people communicate, and it is a way to deliver our services, get feedback and manage our reputation.

?We give our donors options without the complexity, expand and cultivate a new base of givers and create permissive donor interaction,? she said. ?Red Cross is an established and recognized social media innovator.

?We have an incredibly engaged community locally, nationally and internationally.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York