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How Do Text Message Donations Work?



In the video above, Tatango CEO Derek Johnson answers the question: “How do text message donations work?” Prefer to read instead? No problem, please see the post below. You can also find answers to all of your SMS marketing questions in our Q&A video library; click hereΒ to browse.


Text Message Donations

If you’re a political candidate or a non-profit organization, you’re likely interested in learning how text message donations work β€” and how you can take advantage of them.

There are two primary avenues for text message donations: via a wireless carrier, where the donation is added to the mobile phone bill; and through the consumer’s credit card. We’re going to walk you through each option individually.


Wireless Carrier Donations

The first way to receive donations via text message marketing is by attaching the funds to the mobile phone bill. This normally takes the form of texting a keyword, for example, “give,” to a short code. The donation would then be charged to the consumer’s mobile phone bill automatically, and the money would be transferred that way. This allows the consumer to donate money without using their credit card information. Unfortunately, the wireless carriers do take a percentage of that donation.

There are requirements for who can donate and receive donations in that way. You have to be a 501(c)(3) organization, and your organization must meet a small variety of different thresholds. These things make this donation vector a little costly, but still effective. The downside of this is that the carrier-side billing doesn’t give the organization any of the client’s credit card information, which makes potential repeat donations less convenient. It also means that the organization receives less of the final donation, and has less control over the process.


Direct Credit Card Donations

Alternatively, when the consumer texts “give” to the short code, they can be sent a link to a website that allows them to securely input their credit card information to donate. This comes with some unique advantages and disadvantages.

When compared to the previous tactic, this is more flexible, in that there are no tax designations or requirements to work around. It also allows the consumer to donate larger amounts at once, as wireless carriers do not allow large donations. Any donations over $100 would require this kind of approach.

The downside to this is that it’s less convenient for the consumer; they have to open an entire link, which can be that one extra step that dissuades some people from donating. Additionally, this process requires that the organization in question set up the website or landing page for donations to be processed on, which comes with its own costs.


We hope this breakdown answered your questions about text message donations. If you’re interested in other content about SMS, MMS, or RCS marketing, we encourage you to explore our resource library. We’ve spent years learning from, writing, and curating content and news about this industry β€” we’re the experts, and we want to help anyone that’s interested. If you want to create your own text message marketing campaign, please give us a call!


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