RSPCA Mobile needs to know its customers

RSPCA Mobile could be a one-off anomaly, or the start of a new trend in charities providing consumer services as a way of fundraising and signing up new donors.


Odd as it might sound, there is nothing new about companies diversifying beyond their core business, so there shouldn’t be anything too surprising about the RSPCA putting its brand on a mobile network – think about how odd the idea of Tesco Mobile would have seemed 10 years ago.

RSPCA Mobile launched last week as a way for consumers to donate to the charity while also gaining access to a cheap pay-as-you-go mobile service. It will actually be run by Shebang Technologies Group, which offers independent tariffs and contracts over the main mobile networks Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Three and O2. The RSPCA brand is used under licence.

Going into what is normally a cut-throat commercial industry sounds like a dangerous and unusual step for a charity, but if the numbers add up it looks like there are benefits both to the RSPCA and to Shebang.

The charity sector has been in dire trouble ever since the current government announced its public spending cuts in 2010. No longer able to rely on the state to fund their work, and with potential donors among the general public finding their own finances squeezed, charities are finding they have no choice but to explore new revenue sources.

RSPCA Mobile means consumers can “incorporate giving into their everyday expenditure”, as corporate account manager Andrew Lyons puts it. Up to 15% of each top-up of mobile credit goes to the RSPCA.

The fact that the RSPCA is actually branding the service is likely to give consumers more confidence that their money is going to the right places than if it had just formed a strategic partnership with Shebang. That’s great for Shebang, because for the company this is really just good business.

Therein lies potential danger, though. Going into a consumer business like this will only fully make sense for the RSPCA if it has a direct relationship with the customers. The fundraising power of this business will lie not just in how much money the charity makes from top-ups, but also in communicating what it stands for and securing long-term, loyal donors.

If more charities decide to license their brands in this way, they need to take a hands-on approach to the customer data the business generates, learning who has chosen to them as a provider and why. And they also need to ensure the licensee’s customer service is up to scratch, because otherwise the relationship could do the brand more harm than good.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here