With the recent disaster in Haiti we saw a push from many charities to take advantage of mobile technologies to help raise funds. You’ve probably seen the ads on TV to text to a certain number to make a donation through your cell phone provider.

These messages were also splayed across Facebook as status updates (interesting side note: whether or not the people posting the information actually donated isn’t known but perhaps people felt better just by spreading the word).

I was curious about how consumers felt about this “text to save” crusade so I took the topic to our online community. What we found was interesting. We asked respondents whether or not they thought the money donated through texting actually went where it was supposed to.

Only 16% (of 134 respondents) indicated that, yes, they thought the money would go where it’s supposed to. Thirty-two percent said no, it wouldn’t and 51% just weren’t sure. When commenting as to why they felt the money would or wouldn’t go to where it was supposed to, a majority of respondents felt that companies involved (i.e., the phone providers) would take too large of a cut for “administrative” fees. Most respondents felt that they would be better off logging onto the website of a reputable charity such as Red Cross and making a donation there. This way, they would know that the monies donated would be going where they should.

Given the low customer experience scores of many companies in my colleague Bruce Temkin’s recently released Customer Experience Index report I find the community respondents’ statements to be an on-target reflection of consumers’ warriness to trust many companies. One consumer summed up the feelings being discussed on the bulletin board:

“I don’t think this is the best way to donate, why at first it seems like a “noble” idea, just how do you know that money is going to go to an Organization that does will use your money wisely? First of all you have to *trust* that your Phone Company provider will actually give that money to the Organization, and don’t they decide who they give the money to?

As much as I would like to trust my phone provider, I am not so sure anymore these days, it seems CEO’s are so greedy, its all about them making the most money, or at least that’s the vibe I get.”

So while the idea behind being able to simply text and donate seems like a great use of technology, it’s missing one important piece to fully realize it’s true potential: consumer trust.