President Barack Obama appears to have raised upward of $1 million from text message donations this cycle.
Financial reports for the first 17 days of October show that his campaign paid $39,514 in fees to m-Qube Group’s payvia mobile payment service, which manages text-to-donate programs for both presidential campaigns. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid the firm nothing in the same time frame.
The fees — a percentage of the total amount raised via text — suggest that the president raised more than $1 million via text since he launched a text-to-donate program in August.
Campaigns & Elections magazine estimated in August that donation aggregators such as payvia would charge 5 percent to 15 percent of the total raised. It costs “less than $1,000” to launch a text-to-donate program with m-Qube, the company said. Assuming the campaigns paid about $1,000 in startup costs and the fee is 10 percent, the Obama campaign raised about $1.2 million from text donors as of Oct. 17. By the same math, Romney raised about $1,520 from text-message donations.
A Pew Internet & American Life Project study released Thursday found that 10 percent of 2012 presidential campaign donors have contributed using text messages or a cellphone application. The study also found that Democrats were more likely to contribute online or from a mobile phone.
Both candidates launched text-to-donate programs in late August, heralding the newly approved technology as a way to empower small-dollar donors in the post-Citizens United era. Under Federal Election Commission rules approved this summer, text contributions from individuals are limited to $50 per month and $200 total per candidate, but operatives in both parties say the biggest benefit is looping in new partisans and collecting their cellphone numbers.
Even fellow Republicans fear that Romney has missed a crucial opportunity to engage thousands of new donors.
“I wouldn’t disregard a million dollars on any campaign no matter how large or small,” said Peter Pasi, a Republican consultant at the digital strategy firm emotive. “Think about if you’re an insurgent candidate and you have 1,000 people at your rally and you tell them to pull out your phone and give.”