Mitt Romney launches text-to-donate effort

August 31, 2012

Newly crowned Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney launched a text-to-donate effort Friday, following a similar move by President Obama's campaign last week.

Mobile phone users will be able to give $10 to Romney's presidential campaign by texting the word GIVE to 37377, the campaign said in a news release

"We recognize that people lead busy lives, but they still want to support Governor Romney with whatever means they have," Romney digital director Zac Moffat said in a statement. "Our goal is to breach the wall that has traditionally kept activists and citizens from contributing to the campaign."

The move follows the launch of a similar program last week by Obama's campaign, which has begun asking supporters to text GIVE to 62262 (short for "OBAMA"). 

The efforts mark a significant new development in the world of political fundraising, allowing campaigns to raise money in much the same way that major charities have long done in response to natural disasters and other events. The tactic was made possible by a series of Federal Election Commission rulings in recent months on how to adhere to legal restrictions related to the timing of contributions.

 Text donations will give both campaigns a chance to strengthen their grassroots fundraising efforts. Obama has raised nearly half of his money from donations under $200, but Romney has outdistanced him in recent months by bringing in more large checks.

The campaigns will likely make text donations a regular part of their pitches in broadcast and Internet ads, as well as during major events such as next week's Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Under FEC rules, text contributions from individuals are limited to $50 per month and $200 total per candidate. Campaigns do not have to pubicly identify donors who give under $200, though they are required to make sure they are U.S. citizens or legal residents.

The text-to-donate option is available for Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular users, but both campaigns say they are still negotiating with AT&T. Neither campaign has disclosed how much of each donation will be spent on carrier payments and other fees, which can run up to 50 percent in some commercial transactions but can be offered at a discount for campaigns without running afoul of election rules.

Deputy Editor, National Politics
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Felicia Sonmez · August 31, 2012