Nonprofit SMS Marketing

Complete Guide to 10DLC and Short Codes—Which Is Best for Your Organization?

Complete Guide to 10DLC and Short Codes and Which is Best for Your Organization

Engaging with supporters is the top priority for nonprofit organizations. Connecting with supporters and rallying them to donate, volunteer, and follow through can have a significant impact, especially during events, annual giving days or end-of-year campaigns..  

In recent years, text message marketing has revolutionized nonprofit communication, yet many nonprofits don’t realize they need this as part of their digital strategy.. Marketers can share their vision and campaigns directly, interacting without the challenges typical of email and direct mail. Text messaging is essential in achieving fundraising goals.

Setting up a text marketing campaign can seem overwhelming. With many factors to consider, one of the first decisions is choosing the type of phone number that’s best for your needs. Tatango has been a pioneer in the industry for more than 14 years, helping teams make significant strides towards their goals. Our clients usually see a return of at least five dollars for every dollar invested in outreach. 

As you begin your text marketing journey or work to optimize your existing program, let us help you navigate the pros and cons of each option.  

Starting Your Text Fundraising Campaign

Text message marketing helps nonprofit organizations cultivate relationships with their supporters. Text messages help you reach people much faster than email. Campaign and marketing emails are only opened 22% of the time, compared to 98% with SMS messages. 

Texting doesn’t limit you to a single option or strategy. With a text platform like Tatango, you can design messages, optimize your texting schedule, and keep a close eye on performance with analytics and reporting. You can promote your text subscriber list on social media and printed signs, at in-person events, and through many other communication channels. With Tatango as a partner, you can even implement smart integrations to automatically send opt-in messages when supporters enter their contact details on your website. 

Setting up phone numbers is one of the first and most important decisions you can make when starting your text campaign. The two options are short codes (five- or six-digit phone numbers) or 10DLCs (10-digit long code). Understanding which type of number to choose and why is vital to the success of your SMS campaign.

Image of 12345 short code vs 123-456-7890 10DLC phone number

How 10DLC Work

A 10DLC offers a text solution for sending mass text messages from local numbers. Unlike a short code, a 10DLC looks like a traditional phone number. Some supporters feel more comfortable texting with numbers that look familiar like the phone numbers they use every day. These 10-digit numbers haven’t always been available to everyone for text marketing, but nonprofits organizations can all now use 10DLCs. 

How Short Codes Work

Unlike 10DLCs, short codes are made up of just five or six digits and can be implemented throughout the entire campaign or fundraising drive to consolidate all your team’s text messaging using the same code. Short codes must be registered with and leased from the official Short Code Registry. The team at Tatango can help you with all of that simply by receiving some information about your organization during the onboarding process.

A short code can be a random combination of numbers, and can be dedicated for use by only one campaign or organization or shared between different groups and organizations. Some short codes, referred to as vanity short codes, are made up of a specifically chosen combination of numbers. For example, a fundraising team might choose a short code that’s memorable like 33333 or one that can be typed quickly.

How to Choose Between 10DLCs and Short Codes

Let’s take a look at four factors you should consider when deciding whether a short code or 10DLC is right for your organization.

Connecting with Supporters

10DLCs have the familiar appearance of regular phone numbers, your campaign and fundraising text conversations with supporters don’t look very different from the texts they exchange with friends and family in their text messaging apps. These 10-digit numbers start with familiar area codes and make it seem like the nonprofitis communicating directly with each supporter. 

Short codes look different than regular phone numbers and may not feel as personal or familiar for supporters. But they’re simpler, more memorable, and easier to share than 10DLCs, encouraging more word-of-mouth sharing and promotion. 

Ease of Setup

Setting up your organization with a 10-digit number is fast and easy. Setting up a 10DLC usually takes just a few days, while registering short codes with the Short Code Registry can take four to six weeks. Tatango can handle the entire process for you, regardless of which you choose.


Dedicated short codes cost more to lease—between $500 and $1,000 per month—and typically require a higher upfront investment. As an alternative, 10DLCs are cheaper and require a smaller investment to get started. When fundraising deadlines are fast approaching, improving your connection with supporters and saving money can make a big difference. 

Messaging Speed

Whether you choose a short code or 10DLC, Tatango’s robust platform allows you to communicate with your constituents quickly and easily. With the ability to send millions of messages within seconds, your supporters will receive their messages almost immediately upon pressing send. This function can be especially helpful during emergency giving or breaking news updates.

Setting Up Your Phone Number

The Tatango platform supports short codes and 10DLCs. Both options have pros and cons, depending on your organization’s needs and goals. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all choice. Larger organizations often benefit from using dedicated short codes, while 10DLCs offer flexibility and speed more affordability. 

Partner with Tatango to get your text fundraising campaign up and running. As an industry-leading SMS provider for almost 15 years, we can help you make the best decision and set up your SMS number as quickly as possible. 

Contact the SMS experts at Tatango today to learn more.

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