In its latest experiment with soliciting text donations, This American Life used the push notification system on its iPhone app to ask listeners to support the show. The response from tech savvy readers of Ars Technica was not positive. "The pushed message for donations felt a bit off-putting," the online technology journal reported last week. "Getting a donation pitch during or after a show is expected. A random notification pushed to your phone isn't." Sixty readers commented on the article, including Seth Lind, TAL production manager, who apologized for the annoying iPhone message. "We're all learning how to use this stuff!"
The push notification was a way around Apple's prohibition on using software applications to solicit charitable donations, but it wasn't an effective way to ask for text gifts, Lind told Current. "The push notification looks like a text message, but when you unlock the iPhone, the message is lost. It's not very effective at all." The notification was created for TAL's biannual fundraising campaign, now in its third week. Most of the donations are coming in through the TAL website, but 21 percent are text gifts of $10, Lind said. TAL's first campaign for mobile gifts of $5 raised nearly $143,000.