Nonprofit SMS Marketing

20 Simple Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Text Messaging List

20 Simple Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Text Messaging List

Successful fundraising relies on strong communication. It’s critical for nonprofit organizations to build relationships with supporters and potential donors. People are more likely to align with your cause if you engage them in your organization’s story and mission. Help them recognize why their support is vital and call on them to become part of the solution.

While email marketing is now a standard element in most nonprofits’ communication strategies, SMS messaging is emerging as a frontrunner for its fast and responsive communication. Emails that make it past spam filters and the junk folder only have an average open rate of about 20%. Meanwhile, text messages boast an impressive 99% open rate. An industry-leading SMS provider like Tatango can help you center your campaign around text messagessending direct messages with donation links, embedded images, video clips, incentives, rewards, and more—to drive prompt action from your supporters.

When supporters get in touch and interact with your organization, take every opportunity to encourage them to join your subscriber list. Growing your text messaging contact list is essential for increasing your reach to new and existing supporters, improving engagement, and raising more money. 

20 Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Text Messaging List 

Boost your SMS subscriber count through your website, emails, social media, text messaging, and offline opportunities. The following are 20 ways you can start gaining more subscribers today.

Expand Subscribers Through Your Website

  1. Include a Phone Number Field on Email Sign-up Forms

    Make sure there’s a line for phone numbers on your email sign-up forms so when a visitor or supporter joins your email list, they can also provide their phone number for text messages. These supporters are already giving you their contact details and want to hear from you, so they’ll likely appreciate getting SMS messages, too. This step also helps keep all your subscriber information together instead of maintaining two separate lists.

    For example, see how the NAACP website asks supporters to share their phone numbers:

    NAACP website asks supporters to share their phone numbers

  2. Include a Phone Number Field on Donation Forms

    Your donation forms should include a phone number field. Donors are the heart of your campaign. Their contributions help you reach your fundraising goals. Encourage this important audience to join your text messaging program to easily stay informed about future donation and volunteer opportunities. For example, see the donation form on the March of Dimes website:

    onation form on the March of Dimes website

  3. Include a Phone Number Field on Event Registration Forms

    Gather phone numbers, not just email addresses, on your event registration forms to help simplify event organization and make sending post-event thank-you messages and fundraising updates easier. Robust SMS subscriber lists will boost participation in future events, volunteer efforts, and donation drives. Take a look at the event registration form on the March of Dimes website:

    Event registration form on the March of Dimes website

  4. Include a Phone Number Field on Advocacy Alert Forms

    Advocacy alert forms play a key role in building momentum for change and raising awareness. If your nonprofit sends (or hosts) these forms, they’re also an effective way to grow your SMS subscriber list and send supporters campaign messages and updates in the future. Here’s an advocacy alert form from The Humane Society:

    Advocacy alert form from The Humane Society

  5. Display Your Short Code and Keywords on Your Home Page

    The homepage does a lot of heavy lifting for most nonprofits. It’s usually a high-traffic page, so be sure to display your short code. Potential donors and volunteers can send a text to this dedicated five- or six-digit number, like 12345. Also include keywords, like ANIMALS or FOODBANK, to help you better understand and segment your subscriber list. Segmenting will allow you to send targeted messages to specific groups of subscribers. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) homepage is a great example:The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) homepage

  6. Create Dedicated Contact Landing Pages

    When someone visits your website, make sure your best communication channels are clearly displayed. Landing pages should be straightforward and should include your short code and keywords, as you’ll see on this landing page for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF):
    Landing page for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

  7. Use Lightboxes on Your Homepage

    Lightbox pop-ups are window overlays that automatically appear on your landing page when someone first arrives on the page. Lightboxes sometimes dim some of the background or cover the page content to showcase a special announcement or important information. Use the lightbox option to ask website visitors for their contact preferences and interest in live events and to invite them to join your SMS subscriber list.

Boost Your Subscriber List with Emails

  1. Add SMS Details to Email Templates

    Include SMS campaign details in your email templates and any emails you send to supporters. Include a link so email recipients can opt in for text messages. See the following example from a Disabled American Veterans (DAV) email:

    Example from a Disabled American Veterans (DAV) email

  2. Promote SMS Sign-up via Email

    While the SMS communication channel makes direct conversation with supporters easier than ever, email still plays an essential role for most nonprofits. Try sending two to three emails per year to remind subscribers about your text messaging campaign and encourage them to sign up. The sole purpose of these dedicated emails should be to drive new text message opt-ins.

    Here’s an example of a dedicated email from Operation Underground Railroad inviting supporters to join the organization’s text messaging program. Five hundred people signed up for the text messaging program in the first 12 hours.

    Dedicated email from Operation Underground Railroad

  3. Add SMS Sign-Up Details to Emails Welcoming New Donors

    Include details about your SMS campaign in your welcome email series for new donors to give subscribers direct access to your other main communication channel. Unfortunately, some of your new supporters may not see all your emails in the future since so much email gets filtered to spam and some email hosting software suppresses emails when there are unopened emails. Mention your SMS campaign early in the welcome emails to ensure your donors and volunteers have a reliable way to collaborate with you.

  4. Promote Your SMS Campaign in Newsletter Stories

    Newsletters and update emails are good places to promote your SMS campaign. Add promotional articles two to three times per year and ensure your supporters see your short code and keywords. Getting donors and volunteers to join your action-focused SMS lists will help make your future fundraising and volunteer efforts more successful. See this example from a Best Friends Animal Society newsletter:

    Example from a Best Friends Animal Society newsletter

Reach More Supporters on Social Media

  1. Post Your Short Code on Social Media

    Social media accounts can help amplify information about your SMS campaign. Post your short code on your accounts at least once a month and invite your social media followers to opt in to receive in-depth updates, special incentives, and donation reminders. Here’s a good example from The Nature Conservancy’s Facebook page:

    Example from The Nature Conservancy’s Facebook page

  2. Promote Your SMS Campaign with Social Media Ads

    Use ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms to advertise your SMS subscriber list and mission. Create concise, eye-catching ads and posts with your short code and keywords to make the opt-in process fast and easy.

  1. Add Your Short Code and Keywords to Your Social Media Accounts

    People who visit your social media pages may not know about your email and SMS subscriber lists. Rather than frequently posting your SMS campaign details on your timeline, consider adding your short code and keywords to your cover photo or profile picture so that information is always visible and available.

  1. Add Click-to-Join Options to Social Media Stories

    On Instagram, you can add a click-to-join feature to posted reels and stories with a link to your campaign and a space to enter a phone number. Create brief, compelling Instagram stories that include your short code, keywords, one-tap links, and other details about your SMS campaign, then save those stories as highlights on your profile, where they’ll serve as long-term passive signup funnels.

Grow Your List with SMS Messages

  1. Ask SMS Subscribers to Share Links

    Invite subscribers to forward links and texts to help spread awareness using Tatango’s Click-to-Message feature. As supporters share your SMS campaign with their friends and family, your subscriber list grows with no additional effort on your part. Here’s an example of a Click-to-Message text:

    Example of a Click-to-Message text

Find More Subscribers Offline

  1. Promote SMS Sign-Up on Printed Newsletters and Stewardship Mailers

    Some supporters and donors who may not want to sign up for emails or follow your social media accounts may instead prefer direct SMS communication. Make sure your printed newsletters and mailers include clear instructions for joining your SMS subscriber list to receive instant updates, reminders, and exclusive content.

  1. Include SMS Campaign Details on Signs and Fliers Posted in Buildings and Offices

    Include your short code and keywords on eye-catching signs and flyers and obtain permission to place them in high-traffic areas, such as apartment buildings, community spaces, and places of work.

  1. Include Your Short Code on Event Signage

    Ensure all signs at in-person events and volunteer meetups display your SMS short code and keywords. Attendees may not know about your SMS subscriber list. In-person events are ideal opportunities to tell supporters about your text messaging campaign and encourage them to sign up while excitement is high.

  1. Include Your Short Code in News Releases

    Add your short code and keywords to public announcements, news releases, and annual reports. These are great places to let audiences know about your SMS subscriber list and encourage them to join.

Partner with Tatango to Grow Your SMS Subscriber List

With the right SMS provider and outreach strategies, your SMS subscriber list can be the beating heart of your fundraising efforts. Considering that 78% of people say text messaging is the fastest way to reach them, it’s an obvious choice for keeping your supporters highly engaged and motivated. 

Text messaging is perfect for sending donation links, deadline reminders, heartfelt updates, and event promotions. Any of the suggestions we’ve shared here for growing your list is a great starting point, and by working with Tatango, you can optimize your messages and achieve your fundraising goals. To learn more about SMS marketing and fundraising, contact our team of experts at Tatango.

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