Mobile companies waive fees for SMS donations to Comic Relief

Howard Lake | 12 March 2009 | News

Doing Something for Money logo for Red Nose Day 2009
Doing Something Funny for Money

This year the public can, for the first time, text a £5 or a £1 donation to Comic Relief knowing that every penny will go to the charity.
Mobile industry companies 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone have agreed to waive their usual charges to ensure a £1 or £5 text means a £1 or £5 donation to Comic Relief, and the Treasury has confirmed that because of this no VAT will be charged on these donations.
The £5 text number (66609) opened on 2 March and will be one of the options viewers can use to donate on the night of TV on 13 March.
Since 27 February Radio 1 listeners have been able to send a £1 text (88808) to sponsor the celebrity team on the Red Nose Climb. Both donation lines close at midnight on 31 March 2009.
The SMS service is being provided by Buongiorno, in collaboration with Mobile Interactive Group (MIG).
Emma Freud, Trustee of Comic Relief, said: “The spirit of the entire mobile industry has taken our breath away. We believe receiving every penny from texts donated by the public will make the most remarkable difference – helping us to transform and save literally thousands of lives.
“An astonishing £190,000 was donated via the £1 text donation line on the first day it opened on Radio 1, and in that week it raised nearly £800,000. We have high hopes for the £5 text line on Red Nose Day. This stuff works!”
Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms, said: “The Government is fully behind the very important work of Comic Relief. That’s why I’m delighted to confirm that no VAT will be charged on donations, so every penny donated will go straight to Comic Relief.”
Sue Hammett, Community Investment Manager, Orange UK, said: “Orange has just launched a new community strategy and what better way to kick start it, by waiving our charity rate associated with text donations to Comic Relief. We know our customers are great supporters of Comic Relief, so we wanted to make sure we supported them and this great charity.”