Election SMS Fundraising: A How-To Guide
Are you trying to navigate using SMS to raise money for your political campaign or organization? It’s no secret: the cost of running a political campaign is significant. Yet, it’s crucial for democracy and the well-being of the country. How do you help educate citizens, increase voter turnout, mobilize your constituents, and keep up with the rising costs of running a political campaign?
It’s simple. You use text message marketing to increase support and grow your donations. In this blog post, we walk you through everything you need to create winning campaigns through election fundraising.
Election SMS Fundraising: Building an SMS List
If you’re wondering, “How do I go about building my SMS list?” then your head is in the right starting place. The first step to increasing your donations is growing your text message subscriber list. An engaged subscriber list that opens and responds to your text messages is more likely to donate to your mission than a cold subscriber list. Below are seven steps to grow an engaged text message subscriber list.
1. Get a Short Code
First, you need to select a short code with a political SMS marketing software like Tatango. A short code is a five- to six-digit phone number from which your organization and your subscribers can text each other. If you’re fundraising for political purposes, you’ll use this code throughout your campaign. Supporters will opt in to your subscriber list using this specific short code. Once subscribed, they will receive updates, announcements, donor requests, and any other information you’d like to send them.
2. Choose a Keyword
After selecting a short code, you need to choose a keyword. The keyword should be something related to your campaign or organization. Having a relevant keyword makes it easier for supporters to recognize and remember it. For example, if your nonprofit organization is called The Hope Foundation, your keyword may be HOPE. Subscribers would text HOPE to a short code such as 12345.
3. Choose an Opt-in SMS Incentive
To ensure that you optimize your subscriber opts in, create an opt-in SMS incentive to encourage supporters to sign up to your subscriber list. Your incentive could be anything from a free dinner with someone influential or the promise of early access to important announcements. Make sure your incentive is tailored to your supporters’ interests so they’ll want to subscribe.
4. Ensure You Meet Text Message Regulations
When using text message marketing for your political campaigns or election fundraising drives, you must adhere to a few regulations. The rules for political candidates and committees differ from non-profit organizations, but here are a few rules to keep in mind as you grow your subscriber list.
Rules for political candidates or committees:
- No foreign contributions are allowed. The short code used for donation campaigns can only be sent to Americans.
- There must be a contract between the SMS service provider and the political candidate, including compliance with the FEC’s requirements.
- All donations must be received through a single short code, which means political candidates can’t switch codes in the middle of their campaign.
- Political candidates or committees must be in good standing with the FEC and relevant state authorities, and they must be registered.
- Text message confirmations must include a hyperlink that leads to a mobile page with the complete declaration.
These are just a few of the rules political candidates and committees must adhere to when using text message marketing. Be sure to read the FEC and TCPA regulations to ensure that you are compliant.
Rules for non-profit organization fundraising:
The TCPA has relaxed the regulations for non-profit organizations that use text messaging to fundraise. Non-profit organizations no longer require written consent for their text message lists. Although NPO’s still have to obtain consent from SMS supporters, the regulations are not as strict. Non-profit organizations may text supporters if they have received oral consent previously. Furthermore, non-profit organizations may add existing contacts to their subscriber list without obtaining consent a second time. Although non-profit organizations will not technically be penalized or fined, it is better to obtain consent to reduce the number of unsubscribes and avoid legal issues.
All text message campaigns must have an option to opt out included in the messages. You can either include a link in the text message, which takes the subscriber to an unsubscribe page or include a “reply with STOP to opt out” option.
Additionally, including your organization’s name makes it easier for your supporters to identify who the text is from since some supporters may not have saved your contact details. Identifying your organization will help increase your donations since subscribers will know who’s requesting the donation.
5. Use a Donation Platform
Don’t forget to integrate your text message campaign with a donation platform so you can collect donation information that will help improve your message targeting and increase your donations. For example, if you integrate your text message platform with your donation platform, you’ll be able to identify your most engaged donors. With this information, you can text specifically those people when you need urgent donations.
6. Collect Data for Segmentation
To make the best use of your political text messaging campaigns, it is a good idea to collect additional information from your supporters. Information such as their names, mobile number, zip code, and email address will help you target your text message campaigns more effectively. For example, you can use zip code information when you need to recruit volunteers in a specific area. Or, you can match email addresses with subscriber donation activities to help you tailor donation requests. Segmenting your subscriber list allows you to customize your calls to action (CTAs) for a more favorable response and ensures that you don’t overwhelm subscribers with too many texts.
7. Engage With Your Subscribers
Before you start asking for donations, you need to develop a relationship with your supporters. Your supporters will be far more open to donating to your political campaign or cause when they know more about you and your mission or political stance. Make subscribers feel like they’re involved and part of your journey. Engage them with updates, announcements, and other snippets of information that may resonate with them.
How to Increase Election Donations Using SMS Marketing
Now that you know how to grow a subscriber list, it is time to learn how to use your list for election fundraising. Below are some tips when crafting text messages for your political text message campaign:
1. Write Compelling Copy
To ensure that your request for donations is successful, you need to write clear and compelling copy. Keep the message direct, have a clear CTA (such as “Donate now”), include language that aligns with your brand, and speak to issues that would garner the most interest and response from your subscribers.
2. Be Human
Your subscribers are people, and people respond to emotion. Therefore, when messaging them as part of a text message campaign, always strive to humanize the messages. It could be as simple as personalizing these messages with their names.
3. Include a Clickable Link
Donating should be a breeze. To optimize your election fundraising efforts, make donating as easy as possible. Include a clickable link that leads to a donation page where donors can contribute quickly and securely. Additionally, you can review important metrics to improve your campaigns, such as how many people clicked on your link out of all the people who received your messages.
4. Include a Strong CTA
End your text message with a strong call-to-action to inspire your supporters to take action immediately. The last thing you want is for your subscriber to forget about your message after they have read it. A strong call to action will prompt your supporters to donate and reduce the likelihood that they’ll close the message and forget all about it. Choose action-oriented phrases like “Act now,” “Donate today,” and “Register here.”
5. Add Images and Videos
Another fantastic way to get more opens and engagement from your messages is to add images and video to MMS messages. Videos and images help deliver attention-grabbing messages and aren’t subject to the character limits associated with text-only messages.
6. Send a Thank-you Text
Once your subscriber has donated, be sure to send them a follow-up text to thank them for their generous donation. Making supporters feel appreciated increases the possibility that they’ll become a regular donor. You can even let them know how their donation helped your organization or campaign.
Using SMS to Raise Money for Your Next Election
Now that you know how to use text message marketing to increase your donations, the next step is to work on growing your subscriber list. Start by including your keyword and short code on all your marketing materials to ensure that your opt-in gets plenty of visibility, which will increase the chance of people subscribing to your list. Some great options to advertise your opt-in include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and printed newsletters. And of course, remember to stay in compliance with the TCPA and FEC. With these things in place, you’re on your way to a successful election SMS fundraising campaign.
We want to help you meet your fundraising objectives. Our dedicated political campaign and nonprofit experts will work with you to ensure you have an appropriate short code, and the right keywords, and most importantly, that you’re compliant with all laws and regulations. Schedule a time to talk to a dedicated SMS marketing consultant.