Nonprofit SMS Marketing

Top Ways to Succeed in Nonprofit SMS Marketing

Top Ways to Succeed in Nonprofit SMS Marketing

The lifeblood of a nonprofit organization is its supporters and donors. However, communication channels have gotten more convoluted and competitive than ever before, so what may have worked 20 years ago may no longer work today. Nonprofit SMS marketing to the rescue.

Two-thirds of cell phone owners admit to sleeping with their phones, and most people have their phones within arm’s reach all day. That helps explain why text messages have a 99% open rate, and 90% of messages are opened within three minutes of receipt. Additionally, 78% of consumers say SMS messaging is the fastest way to reach them.

However, you may be wondering how to convert existing subscribers into donors, grow your subscriber lists, and succeed with nonprofit SMS marking. Keep reading to find out.


The Power of Nonprofit SMS Marketing

To see what a successful nonprofit fundraising campaign looks like, you need not look any further than the response of the American Red Cross to the earthquake in Haiti. 

Within minutes of the earthquake, 250,000 people died, another 300,000 suffered injuries, and millions were left without a home. The disaster required immediate action, and the American Red Cross needed to fund the effort, so the fundraising staff assembled an SMS text-to-give campaign. The U.S. State Department and the mainstream media quickly picked up the challenge, broadcasting the message at every opportunity.

The Red Cross collected $38 million using the keyword HAITI and asking for a $10 contribution. Public service announcements aired on Fox, CBS, and national radio broadcasts of NFL playoff games on January 16 and 17. According to the Red Cross, text-message donations reached $500,000 an hour during this period.

That SMS fundraising campaign for earthquake survivors in Haiti became the tipping point for SMS text-to-give fundraising. According to, the campaign attracted more than 3 million unique donors. More than 95% of those who responded to the SMS campaign were first-time donors to the American Red Cross. What’s more, the Red Cross SMS campaign capped donations at $10 per text. Consider how much money came in, even within those constraints!

Top Ways to Succeed in Nonprofit SMS Marketing


How to Succeed with Nonprofit Text-to-Give Fundraising

In 2021, revenue for text-to-give donations increased by 23%, up from 15% for the same period the year before. Text-to-give fundraising is on a growth curve. The following are best practices to help you succeed at nonprofit text-to-give fundraising.


1. Integrate Your SMS Phone Number with Your Website

By inserting a small snippet of code, you can instantly connect your SMS phone number to your organization’s website. Then, as soon as someone inputs their phone number on your website, their phone number automatically syncs with your SMS messaging program. This simple process helps your SMS messaging program rapidly grows in size—as well as donors, volunteers, and supporters.

Top Ways to Succeed in Nonprofit SMS Marketing


2. Increase Retention

The SMS text-to-give campaign for survivors of the earthquake in Haiti attracted 3 million unique donors. But only about 20,000 donors responded to the call to action by sending a text message with their email address and giving the Red Cross consent to contact them via that channel. You can increase the number of opt-ins with a carefully crafted opt-in campaign.

  •  Make opting in easy for supporters. Add a checkbox and a space to add a phone number or an email address on your website and mobile version, too.
  • Give supporters the option to make a recurring donation. If your initial message pertains to something important or close to their heart, they might be open to this additional request.
  • Let supporters know every message isn’t a request for money. You will also provide them with important news and knowledge.
  • Give supporters the choice to sign up for messages about a specific topic. This way, they won’t feel like you’re bombarding them with messages.

Top Ways to Succeed in Nonprofit SMS Marketing


3. Create Custom-Branded Landing Pages

If a text message recipient clicks through to your website from a text, make sure the link takes them to a custom-branded landing page that supports the campaign with similar verbiage and graphics. According to NonProfitSource, custom-branded donation pages raise up to six times more money on average.


4. Convey a Sense of Urgency

People respond to urgency. Rather than sending a general message about your nonprofit and the great things you do, pick a specific area where you can create a sense of urgency, an immediate need.

For example, if your organization is a local animal shelter, instead of sending a message about the shelter’s overall funding needs, focus on the recent severe windstorms in your area that blew down residential fences. Tell your supporters about dogs and other pets that were frightened by the weather, ran off, and are now roaming the streets and filling up shelters.

In 2010, the Red Cross didn’t send a text message asking people to donate to the Red Cross. They sent a text message asking them to donate to the earthquake survivors in Haiti. Many people believe the Red Cross is well funded, so funding the Red Cross may not feel urgent to them. But they’ll respond when they know their money is going towards an urgent need.


5. Get Familiar with TCPA Guidelines

Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991 to address the growing number of robocalls people were getting. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), charged with enforcement, later expanded the TCPA to include text messaging because a text message is technically a phone call.

Although TCPA regulations address nonprofits differently from other entities using text messaging, adhering to these rules is vital. Your partnership with a solid text messaging firm will help you avoid many problems concerning the TCPA. Start by downloading your free copy of our ebook, TCPA Compliance for Nonprofits, on the Tatango website.

Top Ways to Succeed in Nonprofit SMS Marketing


6. Measure, Track and Evaluate

One of the benefits of digital communications is that it’s much easier to make adjustments—changing a word here and a graphic there—and gauging how those changes affect responses. A/B testing, average sample size, continuous metric, key performance indicators, and other strategies are easier to implement with text message marketing. 


Work with a Knowledgeable Fundraising Partner

Tatango has helped nonprofit organizations send out tens of billions of text messages. Our technology can send up to 6 million text messages per hour, and we know text message fundraising inside and out. Tatango clients routinely report a five-to-one ROI. On average, every dollar spent on SMS text messaging gets $5 in donations.

Contact us today to get the best ROI from your nonprofit text-to-donate campaign. 

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