’Tis the season for mobile giving

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MANILA, Philippines – We’ve used our phones for payments — bills, load, online shopping. Now we can use it as well as for giving.

Donating to charity or other worthy causes is now made easier through the gadget in our pocket. If you have a prepaid mobile number, the amount will be deducted from your load. If you have a postpaid account, it will be charged to your monthly bill.

The Pew Research Center in the United States has conducted an in-depth study of mobile donations as early as 2012, spurred in part by the “Text for Haiti” campaign in 2010, which raised approximately $43 million, mostly from small donors; the funds pooled through the text messaging feature of cellphones.

Early this month, Globe Telecom released a video on YouTube in line with the premiere of the Star Wars movie franchise Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The heartwarming video about “creating courage” demonstrated the resilience of children in the face of adversity and encouraged people to help in the rehabilitation of the Philippine General Hospital’s (PGH) Pediatric Oncology Clinic.

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The video has since gone viral with over 4.5 million views and raised a total of over P500,000 from Globe employees and customers. Along with corporate donations from Amdocs (P200,000) and SingTel (P100,000), the total renovation cost for the clinic, which is P863,380.52, was raised in a few weeks.

Bong Esguerra, director for citizenship at Globe Telecom, said that around P120,000 was donated through SMS and more or less P80,000 came through the GCash app. The rest came by way of more traditional donation channels such as PayPal, bank deposit, and cheque.

“This is an ongoing effort and we built it for the PGH Medical Foundation. So the project doesn’t end here,” he said, adding that now that the clinic renovation has been fully funded, the succeeding amounts that will be donated to the cause will be used to subsidize patient expenses such as medicine, laboratory fees, and other needs.

Ict In Medical Services, Public Places

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) is the largest government hospital administered and operated by the University of the Philippines Manila and the University of the Philippines System’s Health Sciences Center.

PGH director Gerardo Legaspi said the 10-hectare, 110-year-old facility in the Ermita district services 600,000 patients a year. Of these number,  around 50,000 are cancer patients.

“We want to level up our services using technology. So this is a timely project as we are upgrading our IT capabilities. PGH has also been chosen to be a pilot site for reducing queuing in government facilities. That would require an IT backbone and a hospital information system,” he said.

Globe’s first project with PGH is actually providing free wifi in the common areas of the hospital so patients and their families can connect to the internet. Esguerra said the access points are currently being installed and the service would go live soon.

 Aside from PGH, Globe has also installed high-speed broadband connection at the Manila Science High School, the oldest science high school in the country. The school’s laboratory, library, and admin office are now fitted with up to 100 Mbps internet connection and it’s free for use by the school for two years.

“It is our aim to provide key cities nationwide with high-speed internet. We made a call for local government units (LGUs) to partner with us and the city of Manila was the first to respond,” Esguerra noted. “They allowed us to install fiber and connect households, businesses. This has also allowed us to expand our advocacies.”

Under the program, the city’s Binondo district became the country’s first digital district, which means that the area is fitted with up to 100 Mbps connection, which is expected to benefit SMEs. In exchange, the city government has committed easier transaction for processing permits and eliminate red tape, which is a common problem in the infrastructure build of most service companies.

“Because of this agreement, we are able to provide here in Manila an opportunity for collaboration that would benefit residents,” Esguerra said.

Simple Process, Huge Potential

Donating money to charity using the text function of a mobile phone is a simple process. By texting PGH, for example, to the mobile number 2158-0744, the SMS API platform gives the texter an option to either make a one-time donation or a monthly recurring donation. Available denominations for support are P100, P200, and P500. A transaction fee of P2.50 per donation is also charged.

Because of the ease of the donation process, Globe is expecting that it could inspire more people to donate to worthy causes in the future.

“We continue to encourage everyone to work together so that through this project, we can all bring hope to the patients at the PGH pediatric cancer clinic,” said Yoly Crisanto, Globe senior vice president for Corporate Communications.

As the Pew Research Center study found out, most mobile givers (three-fourths) in the “Text for Haiti” campaign were first-time donors. About a third also contributed in other ways to the relief efforts using the mobile phone. Sometimes it is just a matter of informing the public that certain services exist.

The potential is huge as Asia-Pacific is considered a mobile-first world. A GSMA study titled “The Mobile Economy – Asia-Pacific 2016” revealed that 62 percent of the population in Asia-Pacific subscribe to mobile services at the end of 2015. Mobile internet penetration in the region has also increased 2.5 times in the last five years, reaching 45 percent of the population by the end of 2015.

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