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General Mills? Cheerios pushes mobile donations via SMS

General Mills? Cheerios brand is leveraging SMS to help drive mobile donations for its Spoonfuls of Stories program.

The SMS donations are being rolled to encourage users to donate to the organization First Book, which provides low-income families and schools with books and educational resources. Additionally, for each mobile donation made, publisher Simon & Schuster Children?s Publishing will match the donations up to 50,000 books.

?As a proud and supportive long-term partner, Cheerios is excited to help First Book in this initiative of reaching consumers through new technology,? said Erica Jensen, integrated communications manager for Cheerios, Golden Valley, MN.

Spoonfuls of Stories is a 10-year-old program from General Mills that claims to have donated $3.8 million to First Book.

Mobile reads
The goal of the Spoonfuls of Stories program for 2012 is to donate 5,000 books to ten First Book chapters across the United States as well as a $300,000 donation to the organization.

Each book is a small pamphlet that is also free inside boxes of Cheerios.

To donate, users can text the keyword Books2Kids to the short code 20222.

Consumers then receive a text message back that asks them to confirm a donation of $5, which is billed to their phone account via a carrier.

The $5 donation donates two books to First Book.

The mobile donations are being promoted with in-store reading events across the U.S.

Spoonfuls of Stories is hosting seven events across the U.S. with some of the books? authors. The events explain the program and encourage users to donate.

At the events, signage promotes the short code and tells users more about how they can donate to the cause. Additionally, authors at the events will explain the mobile donation process to attendees.

Mobile giving
Similar to other consumer packaged goods giants, General Mills has a specific mobile strategy that tests different channels for each product.

Most recently, the company?s Pillsbury line used Shazam to give TV ads a boost of additional content (see story).

Last year, General Mills was the first consumer-packaged-goods brand to run a Groupon promotion that was available online and on mobile platforms.

With an SMS program, Cheerios is able to bolster awareness of the charity event with a direct call to action that lets users take an action.

Mobile donations are a crucial pillar to any nonprofit or charity organization.

Additionally, by using a user?s phone bill, it eliminates one step for users and can be an effective way for organizations to rack up donations quickly.

?We always think about new and different ways to communicate with our constituents, so there could be potentially more to come with using SMS for these types of programs in the future,? said Julia Hornaday, strategic alliances coordinator at First Book, Washington.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York