Text messaging puts the power to make a gift in the palm of your supporters’ hands. The majority of nonprofit website visitors do so via mobile (51%), and 25% of givers donate via mobile. These benchmarks highlight just how important it is to reach your supporters on-the-go, and why you should incorporate text messaging into a multi-channel communications approach.
Text messaging is an opportunity to reach supporters on their preferred platform, with their preferred message, at their preferred time. Ninety percent of text messages are read within three minutes or less — all the more reason to incorporate SMS (short message service) into your communications strategy.
Above all, it is crucial to optimize your donor experience with a text messaging flow in mind. Consider the content you wish to deliver, where your supporters will land, and if your given path is optimized to occur on a small, hand-held device. A common mistake is to leverage text messaging only for fundraising, but texting offers a much greater opportunity to foster strong and long-lasting relationships with your donors by telling stories and engaging in two-way conversations. Let’s explore.
Leverage Text Messaging to Raise Funds
There are two main types of text message fundraising: text-to-give and text-to-donate. While similar, the small differences offer various fundraising solutions depending on your needs.
Text-to-give fundraising allows nonprofits and charities to accept funds via text message, added on as a fee on the donor’s cell phone bill. Text-to-give fundraising tends to have set amounts, $5, $10, or $25, for example, whereas text-to-donate leaves the amount up to the donor.
While similar to text-to-give, text-to-donate leaves the cell phone carriers out of it. Platforms like GiveLively give nonprofits the power to create shortcodes specific to the fundraising campaign or fundraising goal. Once a supporter texts the shortcode to the designated number, they are sent a link to a mobile-optimized donation page where they can make a gift of their choosing.
For example, UNICEF might create a text “MHDAY2020” for Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020. Supporters text-in and make a gift to support their work to ensure every girl has a right to manage her period safely and with dignity. Learn more about their initiative on periods during the pandemic here.
Communicate with Your Supporters
Leveraging text messaging as a communications strategy goes beyond asking for gifts. It’s a great way to share updates from the field, thank your donors personally, communicate with volunteers, and reiterate messages you’ve shared across email, social media and your website.
Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster response organization, leveraged text messaging as part of their #NeighborsHelpingNeighbors COVID-19 response. Various shortcodes allowed supporters to opt-in based on the content stream that interested them the most – relief updates, maps of where Team Rubicon had deployed volunteers, and quick links for supporters to learn more about their response.
When using text messaging beyond calls to donate, make it personal and address your supporters based on their interests whenever possible.
Consider the following text message examples as ways to engage your supporters beyond asking for a gift:
- Thanks for signing up to volunteer this Sunday, Kiana! We’re grateful for your help in safely distributing food and medicine to those in need. Bring a face mask and gloves if you have them, and we will bring a few extra to have on hand in case. See you then!
- In response to the coronavirus outbreak, our teams have been busy delivering essential supplies to families in need across the country. So far, we’ve safely distributed 1,300 meals and hundreds of prescriptions. Learn more about the communities we’re serving here > [insert link]
- We’re thankful for donors like you, Alenka! Your recent gift of $100 puts meals on the table for families navigating unemployment as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. We’re thankful you’re helping keep our community fed! To learn more about our coronavirus response, click here: [Insert link]
- Welcome to the text messaging club, Jenna! What are you interested in chatting about? Reply NEWS if you want to hear more about some of the work we’ve been up to lately, VOLUNTEER if you’re interested in joining forces (batteries & face mask not included), and DONATE if you’re looking to sustain the important work we do.
- Hey Peter! Immigration deadlines are quickly approaching – and we’re here to support you There’s still time to fill out your application for services on our website here: [Insert link] Stay safe and be well.
Customize these examples to fit the needs of your organization, and intersperse the communication you wish to share with your supporters with direct calls-to-donate to effectively raise funds and awareness for your cause. A simple, friendly reminder: consider what you personally would want to receive via text. We’ll assume it’s not a series of urgent messages asking for cash every week.
Ask for Consent
Stay in compliance and ensure your supporters have opted-in for texting communication before you press send. Consumers are protected from unwanted solicitation, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and in accordance with CTIA guidelines, so make sure you include a “mobile number” field in your current opt-in forms or reach out separately for consent.
Establish Your Communications Plan
Once you ensure you’re in compliance and you’ve got an idea of how you want to leverage text messaging, consider how communicating via text will boost your message across channels. Do you have an impactful social post you want to repurpose? Is there a success story in your back pocket you could share?
Incorporate periodic updates via text into your strategy, assess what works best for your organization, and test your results. When you hit a roadblock – leave a comment, drop into our chat, or shoot us an email. We’re here to help.
Your text messaging flow is only as strong as the content on your donation page – and a few simple steps can bring your donor journey from good to great! Download the free report on Nonprofit Donation Pages to make giving easier than ever for your supporters.