Nonprofit SMS Marketing

Shortcodes 101: Everything You Need To Know On How To Get an SMS Shortcode For Nonprofits

If you’re a nonprofit professional looking to start texting your supporters, raise funds, and amplify your mission, then look no further. This post is a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know on how nonprofits can get an SMS shortcode and start texting their constituents. 

In this guide, we will cover: 

What are SMS shortcodes?

The Types of SMS Shortcodes in Nonprofit Texting

How To Obtain an SMS Shortcode

Why Nonprofit Organizations Should Use Shortcodes

What are SMS shortcodes?

As a nonprofit fundraiser and marketer, you know how challenging it can be to keep your stakeholders engaged. Traditional methods and communication channels are no longer working and engaging supporters as they have in the past. Email engagement is down, the cost of stamps for direct mail is rising, and social media algorithms are ever-evolving. Using texting and SMS shortcodes in your nonprofit marketing and fundraising strategy can cut through the noise of crowded inboxes and ensure your message not only reaches but resonates with your audience. 

Reaching your supporters where they are is key to maximizing impact, especially as the digital landscape continues to evolve. Did you know the average mobile user checks their phone for text alerts up to 344 times per day? Imagine harnessing that attention for your organization. This is where SMS communications can shine, offering a direct line to your audience anytime, anywhere.

Understanding SMS Short Codes

Before jumping into the world of nonprofit texting, it’s important to understand what SMS short codes are and how they work. SMS shortcodes are 5 to 6-digit numbers (such as 23456 or 700-700)  designed for mass texting. Using shortcodes in your digital fundraising strategy enables your nonprofit to engage directly with donors, supporters, or any stakeholder. 


The Types of SMS Shortcodes in Nonprofit Texting

There are two types of shortcodes that nonprofits can use in their texting campaign. 

  • Vanity short codes, which are typically chosen for their memorability and brand awareness
  •  Generic shortcodes are randomly assigned numbers that do not have any specific relevance to your brand.

The choice between them can significantly impact your campaign’s recall and engagement rates. To learn more about SMS shortcodes, specifically vanity codes and generic shortcodes and how they can work for your nonprofit, check out our Ultimate Guide to SMS Shortcodes. 

As a communication channel, texting offers unparalleled reach and effectiveness. Text messages have an open rate of 99% and click-through rates that dwarf those of emails and social media. Additionally, SMS offers a direct and personal way to engage your audience. Finally, texting is an incredibly cost-effective communication channel, with predictable pricing that makes budgeting a breeze.

How To Get an SMS Shortcode

Obtaining a short code is your first step towards crafting a robust texting program and fundraising strategy.  Securing an SMS shortcode for your nonprofit may seem daunting, especially as you navigate the legal complexities and specific telecommunication rules and regulations. However, partnering with an SMS provider like Tatango simplifies this process significantly.  During onboarding, your customer support manager can help you navigate the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) and choose the best option for your needs, ensuring you’re set up for success when you begin texting your supporters.

Why Nonprofits Should Use SMS Shortcodes in Digital Fundraising Campaigns

Using SMS shortcodes in your nonprofit texting campaign can be very beneficial, especially if you’re using texting as a digital fundraising tool. From boosting engagement through personalized messages to engaging in real-time with your audience, using SMS shortcodes in your texting campaign keeps your nonprofit top of mind. Whether it’s for fundraising, customer service, or event management, SMS shortcodes offer a versatile and engaging tool to maximize donations and amplify your mission. 

The Dos and Don’ts of SMS ShortCodes

As with any marketing tool, there are best practices to follow and potential pitfalls to avoid. It’s the same with SMS shortcodes. It’s important to note that nonprofits have specific rules around texting their constituents. To avoid frustrating legal headaches and fines, ensure your website, social posts, or other communications include language about opt-ing into your text campaign. Be sure to always obtain consent before sending messages. This could be as simple as requiring a form fill to be a recipient’s phone number and including language in your terms and services about communications from your nonprofit. Some nonprofits even include that language in small font on the form. 

However you use your SMS shortcodes, be sure that you keep your communications clear and direct and ensure you’re offering value with each text. If you’re using SMS shortcodes for digital fundraising,  personalization and timing are key to maintaining a positive relationship with your audience and increasing donations. Learn more here about what works and what doesn’t work for nonprofits using SMS shortcodes.

Why Nonprofit Organizations Should Use Shortcodes

SMS Shortcode used in texting campaigns can be a beneficial tool in your digital marketing toolbox. Many nonprofits use SMS shortcodes for nonprofit fundraising. Tatango offers numerous resources on why nonprofit organizations should use SMS shortcodes. 

Partnering with the right SMS provider can streamline the process of choosing your short code and managing the approval process with wireless carriers. Once you choose your generic or vanity shortcode for your organization, the next step is to start sending! To maximize impact, craft compelling messages, analyze your engagement and ROI data, and continuously refine your strategy. By embracing this tool, you can significantly enhance your outreach efforts, build stronger relationships with your donors and supporters, and amplify your mission. If you’re ready to get your nonprofit started with an SMS shortcode, contact the team at Tatango today. 


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