Since 1996, the wireless industry has donated more than 17,000 wireless phones to community shelters to aid domestic violence victims. The phones have proven to be a powerful tool in the fight against domestic violence, but the initiative simply could not deliver enough phones to help all of the estimated 5,000 people victimized by domestic violence every day. Nor was there any active role for consumers to play in the program. Utilizing research that showed over 24 million used wireless phones existed in the U.S., and that consumers would be willing to join carriers in a used phone collection campaign, MRA developed the first national used phone collection drive – Donate a Phone (DAP). Through national media initiatives, third-party endorsements, a celebrity PSA campaign and phone collection drives coordinated by local wireless carriers around the country, DAP became one of the most successful wireless industry philanthropic initiatives ever conducted. In less than one year, over 250,000 phones have been collected in a nationwide effort that has included over 1,500 local phone donation drives around the country.


Creating national awareness for the program

Developing a mechanism to make it easy for people to understand and participate

Managing the nationwide, locally oriented collection effort



Kickoff nationwide initiative to collect 1 million unused wireless phones from consumers

Raise greater public awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence abuse by generating at least 100 million media impressions

Provide CTIA carrier members with turn-key local programming opportunities

Quantitative Research

Before deciding on the best plan of attack, MRA’s account team reviewed and conducted extensive primary and secondary research that included:  

Wireless market research by industry analyst Herschel Shosteck Associates identifying that up to 24 million wireless phones were inactive in the U.S. and potentially available for donation.

A research study commissioned by the Wireless Foundation and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates that showed wireless users were more likely to donate used wireless phones to help protect families from domestic violence than toward any other cause.

Statistics gathered on the issue of domestic violence showed that one in three Americans had been victims of, or witness to, domestic violence – further substantiating the need for help.


Develop integrated national and local media initiatives to raise awareness of the problem and elicit customer support

Engage the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in media messaging and opportunities to bring both credibility and a third-party endorsement to message

Connect with customers in local markets through carrier-driven collection activities

Create Internet vehicles to broaden the reach of the message, facilitate collection drives and lesson the administrative burden on the staff of the Wireless Foundation.


National Media: An integrated media approach was enacted to create greater awareness of the problem of domestic violence, to articulate to consumers how they could become part of the solution, and to provide “air cover” to support carrier activities on the local level.        

On March 9, 2000, the program was launched on Good Morning America (GMA).  During the 15-week launch period (March 9 – June 30), GMA featured DAP in a total of 25 segments.  

A satellite media tour was conducted using NCADV Executive Director Rita Smith and Michael Evans, Executive Director of the Wireless Foundation.

Targeted wire releases at launch and a series of update announcements during campaign

MAT Service promoting phone donations to domestic violence cause

Media kit mailed to targeted general consumer, women's, technology and business media

Public Service Announcement (TV & Radio): Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon was chosen as spokesperson for a national PSA campaign. Her recognized devotion to social issues, along with her appeal as a highly visible actress provided credibility to our message and greater awareness to our cause.

Created in :15, :30 second and 1:00 minute spots, the television and radio PSAs were designed to lead with an education message about the growing domestic violence problem. Secondly, the segments defined in simple terms how a used phone donation could help.  Lastly, it introduced a strong call to action,  “To get involved, call 1-800-SAFE, or go to our web site”

Localized Programs: Our key priorities on a local level were; providing convenient local collection points where people could easily donate phones, helping local wireless carriers facilitate collection drives, defining and supporting alternative retail points of collection to augment carrier activity (This was particularly important in areas where a carrier did not exist) and publicizing local collection information.

New Media: Two interactive tools were created to help administer the program; an Extranet to help CTIA member carriers as they began to conduct local programs and a public site ( to help facilitate customer participation and field media inquiries.

The Extranet was designed to serve as a virtual program administrator for DAP to CTIA member carriers. This password-protected portal gave members program information in a highly useful and timely manner. All data on the site (press releases, letters, speeches, collection procedures, etc,) was downloadable and customizable to the needs of each carrier.  The site also included program hints and real-time updates of current local activities, so that carriers could learn from the successes of fellow members. served as the campaign's primary source of information to media and potential program participants. A media area was developed to provide reporters with general DAP data, collection program updates from around the country and interview sources on local and national levels.  Another key area of the site was set up to help people and organizations who wished to conduct their own collection drives.  Lists of participating carriers with whom they could partner and a turn-key kit on how to conduct a campaign were available on the site.


Raising Awareness: To date, media impressions stand at 620 million and growing. The two-fold message: education on domestic violence and a clear call to action

The PSA campaign starring Susan Sarandon has reached over 8% of all American households

Targeted mailings and pitching to women’s publications and all levels of media has yielded placements in Time, Parade, Women’s Day, Marie Claire, Time Digital, Gannett and UPI wire services, Hints From Heloise and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Features in major market outlets included Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Chicago Tribune.

A total of 25 airings on Good Morning America over nine different shows

Satellite media tour interview segments aired in 12 of the top 20 U.S. markets

Over 3.5 million hits to

Phone Collection Efforts: In just ten months (March 9 – December 31, 2000), over 250,000 phones were donated by Americans to Donate a Phone, representing more than one-quarter of our long-range goal

Supporting Member Carriers in Local Rollout of DAP

Over 90% of all wireless carrier members in U.S. participated in the program

More than 1,500 local collection efforts took place in 2000

Radio Shack, a major reseller of wireless service nationwide, held collection drives in 7,000 retail locations nationwide
Distributed over 4,000 collection kits (boxes, posters, and pamphlets) to carriers and grassroots organizations