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Nonprofit SMS Marketing

A Complete Guide to Text-to-Give for Nonprofit Organizations

Text to give can streamline the donation process for donors and boost your giving strategy. With all the advancements in smartphones over the last few decades, it’s no wonder why people are spending more and more time on their mobile devices. From checking social media to sending text messages to friends and family members, phones have become a regular part of our everyday lives. In fact, one study found that the average American checks their phone once every 4 minutes!

Given that your donors are likely checking their phones nonstop, why not leverage this opportunity to raise more revenue and spread awareness for your mission? 

By incorporating text-to-give into your fundraising strategy, your nonprofit can easily grab donors’ attention with engaging messages and encourage them to give right from their mobile devices. Text-to-give streamlines the entire donation experience for your donors and makes giving to your cause more accessible and user-friendly. As a result, donors will be more likely to donate and donate more often to your organization.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of text-to-give and how you can incorporate this strategy for more successful fundraisers. We’ll provide you with the foundation you need to create a robust text-to-give campaign that converts casual donors into avid supporters of your organization.

We’ll cover:

By creating a strong text-to-give campaign, your nonprofit can easily grow its audience and build connections with supporters. Let’s begin!

What is Text-to-Give?

Text-to-give is a fundraising method that enables supporters to donate to your nonprofit from their mobile devices. Instead of having to power on the nearest computer or send a donation by mail, donating via text-to-give is a simple, convenient, and fast process.

Text to give is a simple process that allows donors to easily access your mobile-optimized donation page.

While the exact text-to-give process may vary depending on the software you use, it will generally follow these steps:

  • You promote your text-to-give campaigns and share donation appeals that include text-to-give instructions.
  • Donors send a keyword to a dedicated phone number set up by your nonprofit.
  • Donors receive a response back with a link to your nonprofit’s mobile-friendly donation page.
  • From there, donors can quickly fill out your donation form and submit their intended giving amount and billing information.

Your nonprofit can use text-to-give year-round to send updates about your projects and campaigns, highlight the impact of donations, and ask donors to give. Or, you can pair text-to-give with existing fundraisers, such as by adding a mobile giving component to an auction or event to encourage people to give more. Text-to-give can help supplement your ongoing fundraising efforts and establish a reliable revenue stream, giving your nonprofit more room in its budget to achieve its goals.

What are the Benefits of Text-to-Give?

With so many fundraising options available to nonprofits, you may be wondering what sets text-to-give apart. There are a number of benefits to using this flexible giving option:

  • It’s convenient for donors. Text-to-give allows donors to give anywhere, at any time from their mobile devices. This flexibility can quickly drive traffic to your donation page. In fact, the majority of nonprofit web traffic comes from mobile users, and mobile users make up roughly 33% of donation transactions. By setting up a user-friendly giving option, you’ll be rewarded with a boost in revenue.
  • It can help expand your nonprofit’s reach. 97% of Americans own a cell phone, so your nonprofit can readily grow its reach by targeting mobile users. Plus, it’s a pretty safe bet that donors who sign up to receive your texts will open them and take the intended next action of giving. Text messages have a 99% open rate and 90% read rate within just three minutes of sending, which is far superior to other popular communication modes like email, which only has a 20% open rate. Your nonprofit can leverage text-to-give to build brand visibility and help new supporters learn about your organization’s mission.
  • It can be paired with any fundraising event. From peer-to-peer fundraisers like a walk-a-thon to virtual concerts, text-to-give can serve as an additional fundraising source to support any event. Simply promote your nonprofit’s text-to-give option during the event so people can give more towards your cause.
  • It requires little effort on your nonprofit’s end. With the right text-to-give software, your nonprofit can send texts to thousands of people at a time, reminding recipients to give to your fundraising campaign or event. These texts can even be segmented to certain audiences to make your donation requests specific and relevant. Plus, you can use your platform to automate thank-you messages for supporters once they’ve given, ensuring that every donor feels appreciated.

With text to donate, your nonprofit can ensure your donation requests are seen.

If your nonprofit is looking to strengthen its fundraising strategy, then text-to-give is the right option for you. Well-designed text-to-give campaigns can take your nonprofit to new heights when it comes to engaging donors and forming strong connections.

How Does Text-to-Give Work?

Text-to-give is a simple and convenient process, for your donors and for your nonprofit’s team to set up and execute. Let’s dive into how text-to-give works.

Text to give is convenient for your nonprofit to manage and makes the donation process accessible and quick.

  1. Your nonprofit will invest in text-to-give software. Choose a provider that has nonprofit-specific features and can help your organization promote its fundraisers and spread awareness for its mission. Text-to-give software should allow you to customize messages and target them to different audiences, mass send messages to supporters with just a click of a button, and track metrics like open and click rate so you can refine the content of your messages as needed.
  2. Your nonprofit will receive a designated code and choose a simple and memorable keyword. Your text-to-give provider will assign your nonprofit a 5-digit shortcode (ex: 23456) or 10-digit long-code or 10DLC, and you will create a keyword. Your keyword should be brief and relevant to your nonprofit’s fundraising campaign. For example, if you’re a hunger relief organization raising funds for your food pantry, your keyword could be “ENDHUNGER2DAY.” Donors are more likely to type in a short and catchy keyword correctly on the first try, saving them time and keeping the donation process as convenient as possible. Make sure to promote your phone number and keyword widely so donors will subscribe to your texts.
  3. Supporters will opt-in to receive your texts and a link to your donation page. Once donors text a keyword to your predetermined phone number, they’ll be able to receive texts from your organization. These text messages can encourage donors to give towards a fundraising campaign, fundraising event, or even sign up for recurring giving. Make sure your online donation page is mobile-friendly so donors can easily tap on the link and access it right from their phones.
  4. Donors will give to your organization. Donors will fill out your donation form with their specific donation amount, billing information, and contact information. Your donation page should have limited prompts that ask for only the most essential information so donors can complete the form easily and quickly.

Your nonprofit should be able to easily manage your messages and donor profiles all from your text-to-give platform. This will make sending text messages and promoting your campaigns as simple as possible.

Remember that if you’re seeing low engagement rates, you can always adjust your strategies and change up the content of your messages or the frequency at which they’re being sent. The right software will even allow your nonprofit to perform a/b testing so you can compare two or more variations of a text message to assess which is more effective.

Text-to-Give Best Practices

Without setting aside ample time to prepare, your text-to-give fundraiser may not garner as much support as you’d expect. After all, your campaign’s success depends on how many people know about it, sign up for your texts, and feel motivated to give. Explore these best practices so you can leverage your text-to-give platform to produce exceptional fundraising results.

1. Choose a relevant text-to-donate keyword.

Your text to donate keyword should be catchy, brief, and relevant to your campaign.

To opt-in to your nonprofit’s texts, donors will start by sending a keyword to a predetermined phone number. When choosing a keyword, keep the following qualities in mind:

  • Avoid using spaces or special characters. Most text-to-give platforms make this a requirement, and even if you are allowed to use spaces or symbols, it’s best that you refrain from making your keyword overly complicated. Your keyword should be one word or short phrase that is easy to spell. If your donors have to spend time navigating their keyboards to find a symbol, this may slow down or even frustrate your donors, preventing them from donating altogether.
  • Make it relevant to your campaign. Your keyword should be memorable and help donors connect to your campaign. For example, if you’re an animal welfare organization raising funds for shelter dogs, a generic keyword like “DONATE” is not as effective and could apply to any nonprofit organization. Instead, make your keyword specific to reinforce why donors want to give to your campaign, such as “DOLLARS4DOGS.”
  • Make it memorable. A catchy keyword is much more likely to attract audiences to your campaign and encourage them to give. Plus, your donors can easily tell others about your campaign and how to sign up for text-to-give if the process is as straightforward as possible.
  • Avoid overlapping your keywords between campaigns. If you plan to run multiple text-to-give fundraisers for different projects, each keyword should be unique and used only once. This helps donors avoid confusion and feel confident that they’re donating to the intended fundraising campaign or event.

Make sure your code is relevant to the work your nonprofit is doing. This helps increase the legitimacy of your campaign for donors and makes them feel more comfortable giving to your organization if they know how the funds are being used.

2. Build your contacts list.

In order for your nonprofit to grow its text-to-give fundraising efforts, it needs people to opt in. Market your text-to-give number and keyword widely on the following platforms:

  • Email. Send a mass email to all supporters notifying them of your new text-to-give campaign. You can even segment your emails to different audiences, like major donors, mid-level donors, and new donors, to make your content targeted and more likely to motivate them to sign up. Be sure to emphasize the various benefits of text-to-give for donors, including the convenience of donating right from their mobile devices.
  • Your nonprofit’s website. Create a designated page on your website that explains how text-to-give works if you’re running a general, year-round fundraising campaign. You can also advertise this option on your donation page so the next time donors give, they can easily do this right from their mobile devices. If you’re using text-to-give for a fundraising event, feature this giving option prominently on your event landing page.
  • Social media. Market your text-to-give fundraiser widely through creative graphics or vivid guides that walk donors through the text-to-give process. For instance, create a video that shows a donor signing up for text-to-give. This will help remove any barriers associated with signing up for a new giving channel and make donors feel comfortable receiving messages from your organization.

If your supporters have any questions or run into technical issues, make sure that your nonprofit has someone available to provide assistance. By clearing up any confusion, your donors will be more likely to trust your organization and eager to support your text-to-give campaign. Once you have a sufficient number of subscribers, your nonprofit can send text messages that appeal to supporters’ emotions, emphasize the importance of their support, and encourage them to give.

3. Make your donation page mobile-friendly.

Donors should be able to easily access your giving page directly from your nonprofit’s text message. It’s therefore critical that you optimize your donation page for mobile devices before beginning your text-to-give fundraising campaign. Your donation page should have the following mobile-friendly features:

  • Limited prompts. Collect only the most important information so your donors can complete the donation process as quickly as possible. Ensure that your prompts ask for donors’ name, contact information, donation amount, and billing information. Any information beyond this can be collected later as you develop strong relationships with donors.
  • Ample white space. If your donation page looks too cluttered on a mobile screen, donors can get frustrated and abandon the donation process altogether. Ensure that your donation page is responsive to any device size and that each element is reasonably spaced apart.
  • Clickable prompts and buttons. Donors should be able to easily tap on the prompts/buttons and enter their information.
  • Limited (or if possible, zero) pop-ups. If your donation page has any pop-ups, these can be difficult to exit out of on mobile devices, especially if they take up the entire screen. Avoid using pop-ups, but if they’re necessary, make sure they’re optimized for mobile devices so users can close them out after reading them.

If you’re unsure if your donation page is optimized for mobile devices, run a test by navigating to your website on your phone or survey donors to get feedback on their mobile experience. If your donation page is difficult to access on a phone, you can optimize it with the help of a web developer or nonprofit content management system (CMS). Many CMS platforms will automatically optimize your entire website, including your giving page, for mobile users.

4. Create inspiring text messages.

To get donors to read your messages and donate to your cause, your messages need to be engaging and highlight the value of giving. Include storytelling elements to explain why it’s important for donors to support your mission. For example, you can tell a story about a recent project you were able to complete or a constituent that benefitted from your nonprofit’s services.

To make your text to give campaign as successful as possible, use storytelling in your messages.

Appeal to your donors’ emotions and make them passionate about your cause. A great way to do this is by including impactful visuals, such as photos or gifs. If you’re an animal welfare organization, consider featuring a photo of a dog or cat that your nonprofit has directly helped. While you can and should use an image that will emotionally move your audience, avoid using images that are too graphic as this can cause compassion fatigue and lead to donor abandonment.

Your text should end in a strong call to action that expresses urgency. Use phrases likely to motivate action such as “donate now” or “give today to change lives.” This will push your donors to click on your donation page as soon as they read your text message. You can also make your donation requests specific, such as asking donors to give as little as $5. While this isn’t a significant amount at first glance, thousands of people donating $5 will quickly add up.

5. Determine the frequency of your messages.

Avoid texting your donors who have opted in to your text message campaign too often. This will cause them to unsubscribe from your messages and refrain from donating. However, your nonprofit may be wondering, how many messages is too much? How many messages is too little? 

The frequency of your messages will depend on the goal of your text fundraiser, whether it’s for a specific event or an ongoing campaign throughout the year. For example, if your nonprofit is participating in Giving Tuesday and only has 24 hours to raise as much money as possible, your organization will likely be sending multiple messages throughout the day. However, if your organization is using text-to-give year-round, you’ll likely only need to send a few text messages each month.

Find a balance by tracking donor engagement and correlating changes in message frequency to unsubscribe and conversion rates. The right text-to-give platform should make it easy to monitor key metrics like these and others. Experiment with the number of communications you send and modify your approach as needed based on how your donors respond. Remember to prioritize quality over quantity when running a text messaging campaign.

6. Collect and analyze donor data.

As you start sending text messages, your nonprofit will receive a lot of new information about existing donors and new donors. This information will help inform your nonprofit’s understanding of its audience and how it can modify its strategies to maximize support.

Pay attention to important donor information such as:

  • Donation amounts. Your nonprofit will likely receive donations of varying amounts from all types of donors. Segment these donors using your text-to-give platform so you can send them targeted communications instead of general donation requests. For example, you can create targeted communications for new donors to steward strong relationships and encourage donor retention.
  • Donation frequency. Regulate how often donors are giving to your text-to-give fundraiser. Like donation amount, you can also segment donors according to the frequency at which they give. If you have recurring givers, avoid using the same automated thank-you message every time they give. Get creative and draft different thank-you messages ahead of time to boost donor appreciation.
  • Donation recency. If you’re running a year-round text-to-give fundraising campaign, you may experience donor churn or have donors that give only once. Having a record of this information is important because you can create targeted messages to encourage them to give again to your nonprofit. A great way to do this is by highlighting the impact of gift amounts.

Actively monitor this information throughout your text-to-give fundraiser so you can understand the effectiveness of your messaging and make adjustments as needed. The right text-to-give platform will allow you to organize donor profiles in a single database, group similar donors together, and find trends in your data.

Partner with Tatango for Nonprofit Text-to-Give

Tatango has been supporting nonprofits with text message marketing for over a decade.

Recognized as the #1 SMS software for fundraising, Tatango has a proven track record in helping organizations raise millions of dollars for  the causes they care about. Since we’ve started, we’ve helped send 10 billion text messages for our clients. We can’t wait to learn about your nonprofit’s needs and how we can help your organization develop winning text-to-give strategies.

Contact us and let our experts help you create a text-to-give campaign that drives donations and helps your nonprofit reach new heights.


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