Obama campaign to accept donations via text

Obama campaign to accept donations via text
Expect text donation appeals to play a role at the DNC in Charlotte

President Obama’s reelection campaign will begin accepting contributions via text message before the end of this week, potentially paving the way for the widespread use of text-to-donate in political campaigns.

The campaign will urge supporters to text "GIVE" to 62262, Obama for America's short code. Text-to-donate will be available for customers of Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular starting this week. The Obama campaign says other carriers, including AT&T, will be added in the near future.

Part of the goal was to have the service ready before the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, offering the campaign an opportunity to try text-to-donate in front of a massive audience of Democratic activists, supporters and average voters. With its own designated short code, the Obama campaign is now poised to solicit small dollar donations at campaign events.

"Grassroots giving is powering this campaign," Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina said in a statement. "Accepting small donations by text message will help us engage even more grassroots supporters who want to play a role by donating whatever they can afford to the campaign."      

Donations via text will be capped at $50 per donor, per month. Donors cannot give more than $200 to a campaign per election cycle via text message. 

While Mitt Romney’s campaign has not yet finalized arrangements with wireless carriers, the Republican is also expected to roll out a text-to-donate system in the near future, according to a source with knowledge of the pending arrangement. A spokesman for the Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the Federal Election Commission first approved political donations via text message back in June, both the Obama and Romney campaigns have been working with aggregator m-Qube, which serves as a gateway of sorts to the major wireless carriers.   

Last week, the FEC paved the way for carriers to start offering the service ahead of this fall by granting providers wide latitude when it comes to determining which political committees would be eligible for the service.     

Commissioners ruled that wireless providers could deny text-to-donate services to certain political committees based on commercial considerations. The FEC also made clear that the compliance burden rests entirely with political candidates and committees, not wireless service providers. Those were the two largest sticking points in the text-to-donate debate. 

Mobile firm Revolution Messaging has put forward an alternate text-to-donate proposal, which differs substantially from the system the FEC approved earlier this summer. The commission is set to discuss that proposal on Thursday. 

This story has been updated.

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Ryan Oster

Does anyone really believe small dollar donations by text can stop the impact of special interests and billionaires funding super pacs? Its great that I can text five bucks to the Obama campaign. If 500 of my friends do it too, it only takes 20 seconds for someone like Sheldon Adelson to wipe us all out with a single check. Cool technology, but we shouldn't have any allusions about the impact it will have.

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