I think its a great idea and I have been in discussions about similar schemes for unused loyalty points from supermarkets (e.g. nectar) and also unused interest in accounts in the financial sector.
The barriers are many as you say.
But before they get distracted with your idea I think the uk mobile operators (vodafone being the most progressive in this space IMHO) should be spending any time around mobile and charity sorting out the following:
- MNO's are charging VAT on 100% of SMS based charity donations today. This is illegal, full stop. They should be only charging VAT on the amount that the MNO keeps for processing the SMS and the billing.
In order to do 1 above they need to allocate some of the shortcode.com short-codes to charitable purposes and encourage uk aggregators and agencies to offer the charities SMS donation services. I understand we are close to agreement to use the 70xxx range of short-codes for this purpose, but I am not holding my breath.
MNO's should honestly consider what is a fair charge ( as a percentage or as a fixed fee per transaction ) to take from the donation submitted by the MNO's customer. Ideally Charities would like 100% like in the case of Comic Relief 2009 and the 2004 Tsunami but the businesses between them and the donor ( Charity Agency (poss.) Aggregator MNO Donor ) all need to be sustainable and at least cover their costs.
If there is light monitoring / regulation around the proposed 70xxx series of short codes to ensure that only agencies on behalf of register uk charities use the improved pay out rates then text message donations could have as positive affect on charities as the amazingly successful Just Giving.
Places to find our more if you are interested:
3 people from mobile industry that has been helping the Institute of Fundraising to change 1,2 and 3 above....
mobile aggregator i am involved with http://www.winplc.com/
recent press release: http://www.professionalfundraising.co.uk/home/content.php?id=1809&pg=2&cat=2
IoF website: http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/