Nonprofit SMS Marketing

A Complete Guide to Nonprofit Text Messaging Campaigns

A nonprofit text messaging campaign can boost donor engagement.

Text messaging is an integral part of daily life. People are using their phones more than ever before, checking for text alerts up to 344 times per day!

Your nonprofit may be wondering how it can steal supporters’ attention away from their phones. However, rather than trying to divert their attention, your nonprofit should turn this into an opportunity to reach donors where they’re already spending most of their time.

By incorporating nonprofit text messaging into your marketing strategy, your nonprofit can send supporters updates, donation appeals, and reminders so they’re always in the loop. As a result, your donors will feel more engaged and connected to your nonprofit, eager to support it in any way they can. Plus, with text-to-give, you can streamline the entire donation experience to make the process simple, fast, and user-friendly for donors.

In this guide, we’ll provide your nonprofit with everything it needs to get started on building an engaging—and effective—nonprofit text messaging strategy. Specifically, we’ll cover:

A strong text messaging campaign can grow your nonprofit’s reach and revenue, pushing you closer to reaching your fundraising goals. Let’s begin!

Explore Tatango’s comprehensive Text Marketing Resource Hub to maximize the success of your nonprofit text messaging campaign.

What is Nonprofit Text Messaging?

Nonprofit text messaging is the best marketing tool to stay in touch with supporters and make a compelling case for your organization. Once your organization builds a robust contacts list, you can send personalized messages to supporters about your nonprofit’s upcoming events, fundraisers, projects, and more. Because of its flexibility, text messaging can be used in a variety of ways to meet your nonprofit’s unique needs.

One of the most common—and impactful—ways nonprofits are leveraging text messaging is through text-to-give. Text-to-give is a fundraising method that enables donors to give directly from their phones. By sending the link to your nonprofit’s mobile-friendly donation page, donors can access the entire giving process with a simple tap of their finger.

Add text to give to your nonprofit text messaging strategy to drive donations.

Along with increasing fundraising, text messaging can help your nonprofit build stronger relationships with supporters. Unlike emails or direct mail, text messaging is a familiar, friendly, and fast communication mode that invites donors to read your messages and act on them. Whether you want to direct supporters to your new blog post or share an update on your latest project, text messaging can help supporters feel more passionate about your cause.

Benefits of Nonprofit Text Messaging

An effective SMS marketing campaign can address some of the most pressing issues nonprofit organizations face today, such as reaching fundraising goals, increasing donor retention, and improving engagement.

Nonprofit text messaging has a number of benefits to support your organization’s needs.

Let’s take a closer look at the biggest advantages of nonprofit text messaging:

  • High open rate. Studies show that subscribers who receive text messages from organizations they support open them 99% of the time. That’s four times higher than email marketing messages which are only opened 22% of the time.
  • High read rate. 90% of your supporters will open your messages within just three minutes of receiving them. Compare that to social media, where even your most loyal supporters may never see even your latest post due to the ever-changing algorithms or noise online.
  • Personalization. With segmentation tools, your nonprofit can target specific audiences to deliver a more authentic one-on-one communication experience. This can be based on demographics, donor behaviors, level of involvement with your organization, or any other factors relevant to your nonprofit’s goals.
  • Automation. Automation will empower your nonprofit to send welcome texts for new contacts as soon as they opt-in and thank-you notes to donors right after they give. This saves your nonprofit time and resources so you can focus more on advancing your mission.
  • Mass sending. The right nonprofit text messaging platform will enable your nonprofit to mass send text messages with a simple click of a button. Whether you need to reach hundreds or thousands of supporters, you can ensure that your donors will receive your texts within just a few moments.

These benefits are just a few reasons why some of the largest and most successful nonprofit organizations include text message marketing as a central tool in their campaign toolboxes. In the next section, we’ll explore how your nonprofit can lead a strong text messaging campaign guaranteed to engage supporters and inspire action.

How to Launch a Nonprofit Text Messaging Campaign

To launch your first nonprofit text messaging campaign, you’ll need a solid tech foundation and robust marketing strategy. Let’s dive into best practices so you can successfully add text messaging to your fundraising toolkit.

Choose a nonprofit text messaging partner.

The first step nonprofit marketers should take to build a nonprofit text messaging campaign is to partner with a software provider. There are many features to look for in a provider, including:

  • A2P (Application to Person) messaging. With so many supporters, it’ll be nearly impossible for your nonprofit to individually message each contact. To reduce your nonprofit’s effort and save time, work with a partner that offers A2P messaging. A2P messaging allows your nonprofit to mass send messages so you can reach all of your supporters at once. This way, you’ll never have to worry about accidentally leaving anyone out of your important communications.
  • Ability to handle fast messaging speeds and large listsYour supporters should be able to receive your messages just a few moments after you send them. This is especially important if you’re sending urgent reminders for your text-to-give fundraiser. A provider with a slow messages per second rate can delay your texts by hours, which isn’t feasible when you’re working with tight deadlines. Choose software that enables your nonprofit to reach thousands of recipients per second after sending.
  • Security for your data and campaigns. If a data leak occurs, an unauthorized user can gain access to your entire contacts list or send out messages with your nonprofit listed as the sender. This will disrupt your text messaging campaigns and even reduce donors’ trust in your organization, leading to a decline in support. Work with a software provider that offers two-factor authentication, secure sending, and automated logout to protect your subscribers’ information and ensure that only your nonprofit’s team has access to your text messaging campaign.
  • Subscriber segmentation. Creating highly personalized texting experiences makes it more likely that your donors will read your messages and donate to your fundraising campaign. For example, you wouldn’t want to send the same donation appeal to a major donor that you would send to a first-time, lower-level donor. Ensure that your provider has robust segmentation capabilities so you can segment your supporters by a number of factors, including location, recency of opting into your campaign, donation frequency, and more.

When choosing a text messaging provider, do your research to find software that can best meet your nonprofit’s unique needs. The right software will provide all of these features and more to deliver a user-friendly texting experience for both your nonprofit’s team and its supporters.

Receive your short or long code and create a keyword.

Your text-to-give provider will assign your nonprofit a 5-digit shortcode (ex: 45678) or 10-digit long-code (also called a 10 DLC). This is the number your supporters will text when they opt-in for your messages. Then, your nonprofit will create a keyword that is relevant to your organization or its current fundraising campaign.

A keyword is a short word or phrase that donors will type and send to your short or long code. Tap into your creativity and come up with a keyword that has the following features:

  • Make it simple. Choose a word or phrase that’s easy to spell, making it more likely that supporters will type it in right on the first try. You can use numbers if they’re relevant, but avoid using spaces or special characters so you don’t slow your supporters down.
  • Make it memorable. A catchy keyword is much more likely to attract audiences to your campaign. Plus, supporters can easily spread the word to their friends and get even more people signed up for your texts.
  • Make it relevant. Your keyword should tie into your nonprofit’s mission or the reason it’s running a text-to-give campaign. This will help supporters feel more connected to your cause and have a better idea about how their funds will be used.

For example, let’s say you’re an animal welfare organization running a text-to-give campaign for shelter cats. An appropriate and catchy keyword in this instance would be “COINS4CATS.” This is much more effective than a generic keyword like “DONATE,” which could apply to any nonprofit cause.

Grow your subscriber list.

To jumpstart your texting campaign, you’ll need a robust contacts list. Taking a multi-channel marketing approach can help you spread the word to existing and new supporters about your text messaging campaign.

Promote your nonprofit text messaging campaign on your website to grow your subscriber list. 

Use the following channels to promote your code and keyword:

  • Website. Your website likely has a lot of traffic from your supporters. Use this opportunity to bring site visitors’ attention to your text messaging campaign and its perks. Create a designated page that explains how to sign up for your text messaging campaign and add a CTA on your homepage that will easily direct supporters to this page.
  • Email. Send an email to your supporters notifying them of your new text messaging campaign and how they can get involved. Since your supporters are likely accustomed to receiving your emails, make sure to highlight the benefits of signing up for your text messaging campaign, such as the convenience of text-to-give and a one-on-one communication experience with their favorite nonprofit.
  • Social media. Create engaging graphics that walk supporters through opting-in to your text messaging campaign. You can even pair your posts with a memorable hashtag to reach broader audiences with your content. Post on social media platforms that your supporters are more likely to use and therefore see your posts.
  • Direct mail. Send supporters postcards or brochures that outline your text messaging campaign. To incorporate a digital element and point supporters to additional resources, you can create a QR code linking to your website’s designated landing page for text messaging. Be sure to add your nonprofit’s branding into your mail so supporters know that this communication is coming from your organization.

Promoting your text messaging keywords and short codes is a healthy habit for any successful text messaging campaign. Always earn your supporters’ explicit consent before texting them so your organization remains compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The TCPA was established to protect consumers from unsolicited communications. To avoid hefty fines, only text supporters that have opted-in for your text messages and allow them the option to unsubscribe at any time.

Check out this TCPA Survival Guide so you can run a legally compliant nonprofit text messaging campaign.

Nonprofit Text Messaging Best Practices

Backed by a strong strategy, your nonprofit can grow its reach and revenue with its text messaging campaigns. Use these best practices to create text messages that will inspire your supporters to give and get more involved.

Include one call to action per message.

Ask your constituents to take one action with each message – like donating, registering for an event, or signing up to volunteer. Overcomplicating your messages can turn supporters away and lead to donor abandonment, so it’s best to keep your messaging clear and concise.

For example, if you need volunteers for an event, tell subscribers to sign up and provide a link to the volunteer sign-up page. If you’re seeking donations, explain how the funds will be used, ask for a certain donation amount, and share a mobile-friendly donation link so donors can give right from your text.

Including a strong call to action is a nonprofit text messaging best practice. 

Creating a sense of urgency is a key element of a compelling call to action. Use deadlines and goals to add urgency to your CTAs. Phrases like “Donate by Friday to have your gift matched!” and “Register by the June 30th deadline!” not only create a sense of urgency but also use plain language that guides your subscribers toward specific ways they can support you.

Use eye-catching images.

Humans understand images 60,000 times faster than text. Eye-catching images in your messages are a great way to grab your subscribers’ attention or even communicate a message best conveyed with a photo.

For instance, capture your supporters’ hearts by showcasing exactly who their gift will help. If your nonprofit’s mission is geared towards healing children, include images that show a problem children have overcome thanks to your nonprofit’s work. Emphasize that your services would not be possible without the generous support of donors.

Use engaging visuals to make your nonprofit text messaging campaign more impactful.

While your images should be emotionally moving, avoid using pictures that are too graphic. This can quickly lead to compassion fatigue and even cause supporters to unsubscribe from receiving your texts. Share images that show the impact of your nonprofit’s work and compel supporters to be a part of the solution.

Optimize your donation page for mobile users.

In order to run a successful text-to-give campaign, you’ll need to ensure that your donation page is mobile-friendly. This way, when donors click the donation page link in your text message, they can fill out your form without experiencing any technical issues. Donors can then give to your organization from anywhere as long as they have their phone in hand.

A best practice for donation page optimization is to only ask donors for the most essential information. Rather than requiring multiple prompts, which will slow down the donation experience and lead to donor abandonment, stick to only requesting donors’ contact information, donation amount, and billing information. You can always collect more information from donors as you build relationships with them over time.

Personalize your text messages.

Text messages that are relevant and specific to the recipient are more likely to keep supporters engaged. By segmenting your texts, your nonprofit can tap into your supporters’ unique motivations for giving and make them feel valued. This will help your organization build stronger relationships with supporters and encourage them to stay subscribed to your campaign.

Depending on the opt-in information requested, you can segment subscribers by zip code, volunteer status, or previous donation amount. With this detailed information, your campaign can send targeted messages that address your organization’s current needs.

With automation tools, you can address your subscribers by name in every message to help them feel connected to your cause. Supporters are much more likely to act on a text that’s uniquely addressed to them as opposed to a generic greeting like “Hi Donor.” Work with a software provider that will allow you to easily craft highly personalized messages guaranteed to stir up passion for your cause.

Determine the right text messaging frequency.

Most organizations have a sweet spot where most of their list continues to open their messages. If you start seeing lower engagement or more unsubscribes, try different content, segmentation, or frequency methods. It’s not always about sending more messages; it’s about making the most of every message you do send.

Text messaging frequency will also depend on the context of what your organization is trying to promote. For example, if your nonprofit is participating in Giving Tuesday, your organization will need to send several texts throughout the day to create urgency and encourage giving before the day is over. However, if you’re simply promoting your annual fundraising campaign, you may choose to send a few messages each month to remind people and keep them engaged.

However, remember your nonprofit shouldn’t just be messaging supporters with donation appeals. Diversify your texts to keep supporters actively engaged and make them feel appreciated by your organization. Try sending updates about your nonprofit’s latest projects, the results of your recent fundraising campaign, and upcoming events.

Track your results.

With the right software, you can create individualized reports for each text message you send. This will provide you with invaluable insight on what motivates your supporters to take action.

Track analytics in your nonprofit text messaging campaign to improve engagement.

Specifically, you can track your results in the following ways:

  • Compare the open rate with the click-through rate to measure the interest level of links containing time-sensitive information.
  • Pay attention to fluctuations in your subscriber list each time you send a message.
  • Identify potential out-of-service phone numbers to avoid TCPA violations.
  • Track the number of donors along with the total and average amount of donations received.

Messaging analytics allow you to modify your texting campaign as needed to promote more engagement. Actively follow these metrics and use them to determine whether you need to modify the language, length, time the message is sent, or other factors in your next text message.

Tools to Use Alongside Your Nonprofit Text Messaging Platform

To amplify the success of your text messaging campaigns, your organization can connect your text messaging platform with powerful web services and tools like:

  • Salesforce. Salesforce is the leading CRM for collecting donor data and forming a complete 360-degree view of your supporters. By integrating your text messaging software with Salesforce, you can sync subscriber data from your campaigns with your comprehensive Salesforce database, empowering you to better understand your supporters and tailor your donation appeals to the recipient.
  • HubSpot. HubSpot is another top CRM that is well-known for its data management and organization capabilities. Your nonprofit has likely gathered supporters’ phone numbers in the past, such as during fundraising events or through your nonprofit’s donation page. If your nonprofit is already hosting supporter data on HubSpot, you can easily migrate this data to your text messaging platform with an integration. This way, you can build up your contact list and reach your supporters quickly and reliably.
  • Fundraise Up. Fundraise Up is a donation platform that helps nonprofits personalize the giving experience and drive conversions. By connecting Fundraise Up with your nonprofit text messaging platform, your organization can capture contact and donation data and leverage it to segment your texts based on factors like donation frequency, recency, and amount.
  • Virtuous. Virtuous is a fundraising platform that empowers nonprofits to create user-friendly and meaningful donor experiences. With its powerful automation capabilities, Virtuous collects real-time data from your subscribers and sends personalized text messages based on donor signals at the right moment, ensuring that your messages inspire donors to act.

Look for a text messaging platform that will allow you to smoothly sync your text messaging data across these solutions as well as other tools and platforms your organization may use. When your text messaging platform and other databases are connected, you won’t have to worry about manually shifting data and losing critical information in the process—instead, all of your donor data will be centralized and ready to power your winning text messaging strategy.

To kickstart your nonprofit text messaging campaign, work with Tatango.

Partner with Tatango for Nonprofit Text Messaging

Tatango is the leading text messaging provider for nonprofit organizations. Since its start in 2007, Tatango has helped organizations earn a 500% return on their investment to meet and exceed their fundraising goals. Its comprehensive functionality empowers organizations to reach and engage supporters like never before.

Tatango offers nonprofits a variety of user-friendly tools to help them run their campaigns as efficiently as possible. From simple mass texting capabilities to intuitive messaging reports to track your results, Tatango provides a unique one-on-one communication experience that drives donor engagement.

Whether you’re a small or large nonprofit, Tatango has the capabilities you need to reach supporters within seconds. With a messages per second rate of 2,000, Tatango has the bandwidth to reliably communicate with supporters, especially around time-sensitive deadlines.

Contact Tatango’s team of experts today to build text messaging campaigns that motivate supporters to take action. Eager to learn more? Explore how nonprofits are using text messaging to drive results and build connections:

The experts at Tatango can help you put together a winning nonprofit text messaging campaign.

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