READ TIME: 2 Minutes

Why Text Messaging Can No Longer Be Ignored

By Franny Lown

Regular communication with your support base is the key to nurturing your nonprofit community. Keeping volunteers, advocates, and donors up-to-date helps supporters stay engaged and inspired to give! The key to fruitful communication is engaging your supporters on their preferred platform at their preferred time, and text messaging wins by a landslide.

Text messages have a 95% open rate, and more than 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes (NP Source). These sky-high open rates prove that this channel can no longer be ignored. Successfully incorporating text communication into your multi-channel fundraising strategy is fairly straight forward, but compelling storytelling and building a relationship with a donor over text is rarely done well.

Let’s break down some of the basics of engaging supporters via text.

Ask for Consent

The first step is to make sure your ask your supporters to opt-in and make it easy to opt-out in case they change their mind. Simply include a “mobile number” field in your current opt-in forms, or reach out separately. This ensures you are communicating with supporters legally! Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and in accordance with CTIA guidelines, consumers are protected from unwanted solicitation. It’s easy to circumnavigate pushback when your supporters opt-in, so you can let the texting begin.

Keep it Concise

Don’t overdo it. Seriously. Try not to bombard supporters with frequent asks or constant updates, as this can feel invasive and drive them away. A good rule of thumb is to ask your team “would we want to receive this message?” before you press “send.” Use your best judgement and track your findings to figure out what works best.

Short messaging service (SMS) communication is just that – short. When sending text messages, the 160-character limit works to your advantage by helping you get to the point. Choose your words wisely and make it personal! Supporters should feel seen and heard as part of your nonprofit community, so greeting them by name helps to make it feel like a natural conversation. Multimedia messaging service (MMS) communication can work to your advantage, too! Share your impact with high-quality photos, or include a direct link to your website or registration page.


This is a great example of an effective MMS text message to send to supporters. Clear, concise, and incentivized to encourage supporters to fundraise for The Oregon Humane Society’s peer-to-peer campaign.

Call to Action

Why are you texting your supporters? Do you need volunteers to help at an upcoming event? Are you collecting last-minute donations? Make your ask clear and establish goals with your team as part of your overall content strategy. Wherever your nonprofit’s priorities lie, make it clear why you’re reaching out to your supporters so you can benefit from the immediacy of texting. However, it’s important that you’re not exclusively reaching out through text to ask for cash. More on this further below.

Text messaging is particularly effective in driving fundraiser engagement! The Oregon Humane Society leveraged texting as part of their communications strategy for an annual peer-to-peer fundraiser, Doggie Dash. With clear calls-to-action, text messaging helped Oregon Humane Society leverage volunteers, collect donations, and increase registration.

Start a Dialogue

Keep the dialogue going! Build trust and engage your supporters in a way that works for them. Pay attention to time zones and business hours, as you will likely have more luck reaching out during off-peak hours, at lunchtime or in the evening, for example. Let your supporters know they matter by answering questions that come up, and informing whenever possible.

Text messaging works best when supporting messaging across channels, so have a multi-channel approach in mind. As you interact with your supporters through social media, email, or direct mail, text messaging is a great tool to promote action. Have you been sending emails with low registration rates for your upcoming event? A text messaging push helps to get in front of your supporters. Examples below will help you to start thinking.

Once you have figured out what timeframe and frequency works best, mix it up! Text your supporters for donation requests, organizational updates, reminders, or registrations. Nobody wants to receive ask after ask after ask. Keep those donation requests balanced with content that will keep your supporters engaged.

Examples to get you started:
  • Hey Oso! Have you signed up for <ORGANIZATION’S> upcoming fundraising event? If not, simply {follow this link} to register now. Hope to see you there!
  • With just $15, your donation can make a big impact. Help us to fill hungry bellies and spread smiles. {Link to donate here!}
  • Hey Jason! Just a heads up that our support group for survivors is meeting Tuesday at 5pm at Central Library on Main St. See you there!

In short, be in compliance, get to the point, personalize your messages, and start the conversation! Text messaging can work to your advantage as long as your nonprofit uses it wisely.

There’s a lot more to this story. Developing a strong multi-channel communications strategy is no easy feat, but that’s where we come in.

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