Nonprofit SMS Marketing

10 Commandments of Nonprofit SMS Marketing That Work

10 Commandments of Nonprofit SMS Marketing That Work

Despite the documented success rate of text message marketing, the Global NGO Technology Report indicates only about 15% of nonprofits use SMS text-to-give for fundraising. That means that many of today’s nonprofits have a massive opportunity to stand out from the rest and quadruple their mobile fundraising.

Follow these ten commandments of SMS text-to-give, and your nonprofit is sure to meet engagement and fundraising goals. With over 14 years in the industry, we know these strategies work and guarantee success.


1.  Have a plan and write it down.

Your plan is your guideline as you execute your campaign. Include follow-ups, landing page development, deadlines, gift acknowledgments, and results tracking. As you plan for next year, having it documented will help you look back and see what worked and what didn’t so you can build on your successes and learn from your mistakes.

Partnering with an SMS fundraising platform like Tatango can take some of the guesswork out of it for you, helping you know what to plan for and when based on your goals.


2. Use a short code.

A short code is a unique five- or six-digit code that serves as your phone number for text message marketing. To integrate your short code with your website, you simply install a simple line of code from Tatango. Then, whenever someone fills out their phone number on your website or donation page, they are automatically synced with your texting program for future giving opportunities.

Messages to and from short codes are processed faster. Short codes also allow you to grow your subscribers quickly and get more donations at a higher rate. 


3.  Ensure your landing page and website accommodate your campaign.

A customized landing page branded for your campaign can potentially increase donations sixfold. Make sure every page on your website has a link to that landing page.

Additionally, use responsive design on your website.  Supporters won’t stay on your website very long if it’s hard to navigate on a mobile screen, even if it looks great on a desktop monitor. According to, responsive websites receive double the donations. People want a great user experience, regardless of where they access your site.


4.  Create a sense of urgency.

Whether it is a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) sale at the gift shop of your animal rescue nonprofit or a fundraiser to provide rapid relief to earthquake victims, remember people are more likely to respond to an urgent need.

If your nonprofit has a high profile in the community, there may be a misperception that it’s well funded. Rather than promoting the nonprofit, focus on the cause. Supporters may think twice about donating to the Zoo Foundation, but if you tell them that Mama Polar Bear is expecting twins and you need to build a nursery, they’ll be more likely to donate.


5.  Experiment and mix it up.

An advantage of SMS text-to-give campaigns is that they are primarily digital. You can easily make adjustments big or small. In contrast, making even a small change to a direct mail campaign would require going back to the printing presses.

Tatango offers free design services to clients via the Tatango Design Studio. Discuss your goals with one of our experts, and we can craft eye-catching GIFs, audio files, or images for MMS messages to quadruple donations.


6.  Learn about your audience.

Once someone has donated, one of your subsequent texts should ask for additional information that you can use to tailor messages, such as their email address, favorite causes, and more. Segmenting subscribers based on city, state, zip code, donor status, and interests can ensure your messages are personalized for maximum impact.


7.  Follow up with a gift.

Donors like to be acknowledged, and that acknowledgement can be as simple as a digital photo of a rescued dog or an update on the success of vaccine outreach. Follow-up is essential, ideally with something that shows results.

Gary Vaynerchuk, an influential entrepreneur and digital marketing expert, recommends that SMS marketers place great importance on those first interactions via text message: “The first 10 to 15 things you do [should] bring disproportionate value to the consumers,” he said.

10 Commandments of Nonprofit SMS Marketing That Work


8.  Pay attention to your numbers.

Tatango software tracks the ROI of every single message, so you know exactly how many donations each text message brought in. Use that information to influence future decisions. For example, if MMS messages featuring images outperform SMS messages with plain text, incorporate more MMS messages. If short, to-the-point messages outperform long, information-packed messages, use that data to your advantage going forward.


9.  Watch what others do.

Learn from others’ successes and mistakes. Check out Tatango’s archive of SMS marketing examples,, where you can browse and learn from examples of what other nonprofits and organizations are doing.


10. Make decisions based on data, not emotion.

Resist repeating something that didn’t go well just because you thought it was “a really good idea.” Let the data show you what worked and what to do next. Remember, your 10 commandments of SMS fundraising are…

10 Commandments of Nonprofit SMS Marketing That Work


Bonus Commandment: Partner with Tatango

Since 2006, Tatango has worked on countless nonprofit SMS text marketing campaigns. Check out the Resource page on our website for a wealth of information, including blog posts, videos, and e-books. Let our nonprofit text messaging experts help you—contact us today

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