Nonprofit Fundraising: SMS and MMS Text Message Donations
The launch of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007 opened the way for a new era of nonprofit fundraising and communications. Since then, many 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations have been using text messaging to connect with donors and volunteers. Over the past five years, online giving has grown an average of eight percent annually.
With more than 10 million non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide, we can say that competition is tough. Raising funds for your nonprofit organization is quite challenging, and standing out in the crowd and attracting committed donors isn’t easy.
While not everyone has access to the internet, there are more than 5 billion people around the globe who own a mobile phone, which means they’re able to send and receive text messages. Plus, 90 percent of text messages are opened within three minutes and SMS messages have a 209 percent higher response rate than other communication channels such as email, phone calls, and social media like Facebook and Twitter. Text messages have a 99 percent read and open rate compared to other communication methods, such as email, which only has a 20 percent open rate.
That’s why text message marketing is the most effective tool for your nonprofit to engage with donors, recruit and coordinate volunteers, share updates, and much more. In this blog post, you’ll learn how to use text message marketing for your nonprofit fundraising, and you’ll see a few examples of real text messages from top nonprofit organizations.
Why Text Message Marketing Can Help Nonprofits Raise Donations
First of all, what is text message marketing? Also known as SMS marketing, text message marketing is a combination of commercial text messaging-related practices. In general, text message marketing involves sending mass SMS text messages to a specific audience.
SMS (short message service) text messages are short messages sent to mobile devices. They generally contain only text, up to a maximum of 160 characters. In comparison, MMS (multimedia messaging services) can contain up to 5,000 characters and additional media such as images, GIFs, videos, and audio files. Tatango is the text messaging marketing industry leader, enabling nonprofit fundraisers to collect donations, reach out to volunteers, and communicate with their supporters through text message campaigns.
Nonprofit organizations’ fundraising campaigns are in constant competition with many other charitable causes and groups. Even though donors are passionate people always willing to help the causes they love, there’s a limit to how much they can give to those causes. Building strong relationships with your supporters is a way to stay top-of-mind when it comes to fundraising. Never underestimate the power of small donors!
Text message marketing enables you to send captivating bulk text messages to stay connected with all your subscribers, as well as to communicate with volunteers, service practitioners, and beneficiaries. While most nonprofit organizations use email, phone, and newsletters to stay in touch with their audiences, most people prefer receiving text messages. According to Pew Research Center, 97 percent of mobile owners between the ages of 18 and 29 use their cell phones for texting—and 92 percent for those between 30 and 49.
With Tatango, you can send up to 5,000 characters in MMS messages, so you have plenty of room to explain your cause and share updates with your subscribers. You can also include attractive subject lines and eye-catching images and GIFs to gain your supporters’ attention and increase your engagement.
Tips for Nonprofits to Generate Donations Via Text Messages
Regardless of what type of text messages you’re sending, here are a few tips that can help guide your nonprofit mobile fundraising in the right direction.
Keep Your Text Messages Clear
As text message marketing experts, we recommend that you always consider adding a clear call to action (CTA) in every text message your nonprofit campaign sends. Subscribers should always know exactly what you want them to do. Do you want them to donate, register, or sign up? Besides being a great communication channel, SMS messaging is also an effective method for generating action. Whether you use SMS or MMS messages, always tell your subscribers why you’re texting them and how they can support your nonprofit organization in every message.
The best CTAs are the ones created around your campaign’s key functions, such as call to give, attend an event, or volunteer. Nonprofit fundraising campaigns are generally time-sensitive. That’s why it’s essential to create a sense of urgency in the text messages you send and inform those you are trying to reach about important fundraising deadlines to achieve your goals.
In the example above, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) organization sent a clear, time-sensitive text message to generate action, inviting their supporters to “give to PETA right now” to have ten times the impact of their donation.
Keep Your Text Messages Simple and Eye-Catching
Since traditional SMS messages are limited to 160 characters, it’s imperative that you keep your message simple. Subscribers like to receive short, easy-to-digest text messages. Text messaging, when done legally, is a direct, spam-free channel to your audience. Most people only spend a few seconds opening and reading text messages. To achieve quick responses, your goal should be to send skimmable SMS messages.
Tatango’s message preview can help you adjust your message before sending bulk texts so you can deliver a compelling and concise message within the character length. Additionally, with MMS messaging you can include eye-catching content like images, GIFs, and videos to create more engaging and attractive messages that can have a more significant impact on your small donors.
Softhearted and captivating messages bring out emotions, which can help you gain your audience’s attention and push them to act, which will increase your nonprofit SMS donations. According to a study conducted by Deborah Small, a Wharton School of Business marketing professor, when an organization wants to raise money for a charitable cause, appealing to the heart instead of the head will drive more donations.
The image above shows an example of a softhearted fundraising message the Humane Society of America sent to their audience. A captivating text message like this one makes a bigger impact on donors.
Keep It Personal
Personalized text messages boost click-through rates and engagement and help you gain donors’ attention efficiently and conveniently. In a nonprofit setting, donors like to feel a personal connection with the causes they love and support. With Tatango’s merge tags, you can incorporate your supporters’ names into your text messages. Make supporters feel special and important by sharing exclusive and important updates with them.
In the example above, the Conservation International organization uses merge tags to personalize text messages, gain their subscribers’ attention, and generate action.
Examples of Nonprofits Fundraising Via SMS
Below, we share some examples of how nonprofits use text message marketing for fundraising.
The Humane Society of America, founded in 1954, is a nonprofit organization that focuses on ending suffering for all animals. The organization cares for more than 100,000 animals each year through rescue teams, wildlife centers, and sanctuaries. The organization’s text message subscribers receive news, invitations to special events, call-to-give messages, and information on how they can help protect animals. As the example above shows, the organization sent a short, time-sensitive text message to their subscribers inviting them to activate their membership through a direct link.
Pawz sells cute t-shirts to raise money for euthanasia awareness and to save animals. The organization sends weekly text messages sharing offers that include product pictures and links to purchase items. Through engaging messages like the one in the example, Pawz makes their audience feel part of the cause and invites them to take action.
Conservation International is an American environmental nonprofit organization that works to spotlight and secure the critical benefits to humanity that nature provides, such as fresh water, food, and a stable climate. Conservation International’s text marketing campaign participates in #GivingTuesday and includes updates on its efforts, captivating images, and impactful, softhearted content. These types of messages help Conservation International fundraise by keeping their supporters informed and showing them ways to take action each week.
Let’s Raise Nonprofit SMS Donations Together!
Over the years, many nonprofits’ texting campaigns have failed because they’ve lacked a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy. Currently, only 15 percent of nonprofit organizations send text messages to donors and supporters. We’d love to talk to you about how the Tatango platform can help your 501c3 or 501c4 nonprofit organization communicate with those who stand with your mission and support all the hard work your team is doing. Chat with an SMS marketing expert today.