Text Messaging as a Fundraising Tool
By Tracy Blanchard
Text can be a powerful ally to charities and nonprofit organizations. Not only can texting help you to raise funds, but it can also be valuable in doing other forms of outreach and communication to donors and stakeholders, as well as volunteers and paid staff.
Text is a popular communication platform, but did you also know that it’s become a popular way to donate as well? Consider the fact that 17 percent of crowdfunding donations are made on mobiles. And while you may think that only younger generations are willing to make donations via text, you might be surprised to learn that the largest category of donors are between the ages of 49-59. Gen Xers are a close second with millennials coming in third.
As mobile becomes a more integrated part of modern life, organizations who adopt text as a communication tool see the benefits that it can provide in more efficient communication and more effective fundraising.
So how can you take full advantage of text to help your nonprofit meet its goals?
Fundraising can be more effective by incorporating a text-to-give program into a donation drive. Free Chapel, a religious organization, has an ongoing text-to-give program which also doubles as their tithes collection that’s advertised on their website.
They provide simple keywords so that donors can easily identify the specific church within their organization that they wish to donate to.
If you have an event coming up, sending a text a day or two before the event will help increase the turnout. Many people have busy schedules and can forget about the date even if they RSVP’d.
Since 98 percent of texts are opened, the chances of reaching those who would have forgotten your event is high. You can also ask people to RSVP via text, increasing your ability to predict your event’s turnout.
Sending a text message is a nice way to thank donors for their contribution or to thank people for attending an event. You can also send SMS to donors and members on their birthdays or to wish them happy holidays.
After a successful event, you may want to send a message to your staff and volunteers, congratulating them on a job well done and thanking them for their service. There are lots of ways to enhance your relationship with donors and staff through appreciative text messages.
You don’t have to just use text for fundraising. It’s also a great way to reach out to donors and members and keep them informed and entertained:
- Send a message that quotes a shocking statistic about an issue your organization works on
- Send a message with a link to an article or video where your organization is featured
- Text them with a quiz to test how knowledgeable they are about issues relevant to your organization
- Send a message announcing a contest where the winner gets a free t-shirt, hat or mug with your organization’s logo on it
Nonprofits are often made up of a lot of moving parts, and effective communication is essential to keep everything running smoothly. Event planning can be full of mishaps if communication channels fail. Texting is the ideal way to get an urgent message across.
Has the band canceled at the last minute? Did the caterer get the address wrong? Many people confess that they rarely if ever check their voicemail these days. Sending an email runs the risk of the person not getting the message in time.
SMS messages are nearly always opened within three minutes or less after being sent. They require no internet connection, can be accessed on almost any type of cellular phone and often go through when call signals are spotty. Any glitches in your event planning can be solved faster if you use text messaging to communicate.
Staff and volunteer communication
Text messaging can be used to coordinate with your staff members both for events and for day-to-day activities:
- If you need to change a staff meeting time or location. Sending a text can help ensure everyone got the message in time.
- If you have an international network of volunteers and staff members. Most professional text services allow you to schedule when text messages will be sent ahead of time so that you don’t end up sending a text to someone in the middle of the night.
- If you need a fast and reliable form of communication for your staff during an event. Many organizations (for example, the city of Portland’s Sunday Parkways event planners) use text messaging to coordinate volunteers during the event.
Text can be used for a variety of fundraising activities like member engagement, thank you’s, event planning, and even staff coordination. Using text messaging helps charities achieve their fundraising goals with effective communication.
Tracy Blanchard is a freelance writer and content editor. She loves to cover topics like fundraising, nonprofit management, team productivity, and client communication. Tracy is also passionate about mobile technologies and believes mobile will completely change the way we interact.