Texting to turn-on teens to doing good

DoSomething.org to reach teens via text-messaging through new effort funded by Knight Foundation

June 24, 2011 -- DoSomething.org, the largest organization in the U.S. engaging young people in social change, aims to triple its network over the next four years to 4 million by engaging teens through text messages on their mobile phones.

The effort is being funded in part with $1.5 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“By stressing a membership model, Dosomething will more personally involve teens in service to community. By making membership mobile, teens will have community engagement opportunities right in their pockets and at all times,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “Dosomething calculates that 72 percent of teens use text messaging, receiving more than 3,300 a month on average and opening virtually every one. They also calculate that four out of every five teens want to be involved in social change, but national studies show only a quarter of them volunteer. Meeting teens on their own turf is a smart way to open new pathways for them to get engaged in their community,” added Ibargüen.

“Reaching young people by mobile is an extremely effective marketing channel, but it’s also an effective pull mechanism,” said CEO & Chief Old Person of DoSomething.org, Nancy Lublin. “We love data. We’ll be able to personalize and customize the volunteer opportunities we send to them. So a kid who loves animals will get more opportunities to help animals.” Because a new law allows people to keep their mobile numbers while switching carriers – allowing teens to have the same number for longer – DoSomething.org will be able to track and analyze teen engagement behaviors over time.

In addition to the mobile effort, DoSomething.org will pivot, becoming a membership program aimed at keeping teens involved longer. The organization will provide incentives that includes access to college scholarships, recognition from peers and discounts at retailers. The more engaged the teen, the higher the rewards.

In the last year, DoSomething.org has engaged 1.2 million teens in their campaigns and more than 27,000 youth-led community improvement projects across the country. By leveraging the web, television, mobile, and pop culture, DoSomething.org inspires, empowers and celebrates a generation of doers: young people (25 and under) who recognize the need to do something, believe in their ability to get it done, and then take action. More at www.DoSomething.org.

Knight Foundation’s support is part of its Technology for Engagement Initiative, which supports projects that use technology to help people take action and is central to Knight’s focus on promoting informed and engaged communities. About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

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Contact:
Marc Fest, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, fest@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.