Text to donate campaigns is a convenient way to get donors involved in fundraising with a tool they already have in their pocket: their phones!
Not only is it an accessible way to fundraise, but it’s so simple. You may have seen commercials asking to text a word or phrase to a number. It’s easy and takes minutes to support your favourite cause.
Is there an opportunity to add mobile giving into your fundraising strategy? Read on to discover how to fit it into your marketing mix.
What is Text-to-Give Fundraising?
Text to give allows donors to send gifts via text messages on their phones, they simply have to text a keyword or dollar amount to a number on their mobile device. You may also hear it referred to as text to donate or text to pledge, even though it has different names it works the same!
Text to give. can operate in a couple of different ways. If the charity has an online fundraising platform with the functionality, a supporter can send a text to a number, which will then send out a donation form link to complete the donation using their credit or debit card. This allows your supporters to choose their donation amount and provides the option to become monthly donors.
The downside is it makes the supporter go through some additional steps. The Driven platform has built-in text to donate functionality that will automatically send out a text to move the donor through the donation process (including asking if they want to be monthly donors!) and then automatically text out a donation form. If they have already donated in the past our system can make a donation on their behalf right in their SMS! They just have to choose the amount and confirm.
The other common form of text to donate is to text a word to a specific number and a set donation amount will be charged on your phone bill and given to the charity. This is often seen through advertisements asking you to text "help” to 12345, etc. This is very quick and easy, great for activating large amounts of small donations. During emergencies and crises, this form of action can be very effective. The negatives are, the donations are limited to a certain amount, and you don’t receive any information on the donor to allow you to continue to steward them as supporters (including upgrading to monthly!).
If you were to go with the option above you would have to register with a phone provider, or The Mobile Giving Foundation if you are in Canada.
5 Things to Consider Before Running Your Campaign
While text to give campaigns are incredibly simple, you first have to decide if it’s right for you. So here are a few considerations to run by your team before investing in a text to give the campaign.
Gift Amounts are Usually Small
Text to give campaigns normally garner gifts around $1-20 dollars, so if you hope to grow your list of major gift donors, it may not be for you.
If you have a robust marketing strategy, the ROI can be good, primarily when used alongside other direct response fundraising options. It can help increase your visibility and the accessibility of text to help grow your supporter base.
Since the average gift amount can be small, you may have to get a larger volume of donations to justify the campaign’s investment
Text Donations Shine As A Reactive Fundraiser To A Crisis Or Emergency
One of the most well-known text to give campaigns was for Haiti relief in 2010. It did so well because it was a huge natural disaster that inspired many people to give back to that community quickly. Offering a simple way to help was the perfect response because it was easy for donors to act when help was urgently needed. .
Not a Whole Lot of Personalization Options
Text is so versatile and widespread that it can be hard to segment by phone number. You cannot get a ton of information on your donors unless you follow them onto your donation page, so it’s definitely more of a mass marketing strategy.
Donating by text would work best as part of a direct response marketing strategy to get the most from your donors while also being able to track campaign success and get valuable information for your database. Think about how text can fit in and complement your other channels including digital, direct mail, DRTV or out of home.
Marketing your text to donate campaign
Marketing your text to donate campaigns works best in traditional media like newspapers, out of home or radio ads because they capitalize on emotion, attention and convenience. When someone is waiting for the bus, it would be easier to respond to a transit advertisement by texting than searching up your donation page online.
It is key to be strategic about your multi-channel marketing strategy to target different people and segments at the same time. For instance, ask yourself if it makes sense to promote your text campaign online, or if it would make more sense to link to your website instead since viewers are already online and can easily visit your donation page. This may be a good time to also ensure that your donation form is mobile-friendly and easy to use!
Scammers May Cause Hesitation With Donors
There have been a few scams throughout the years where people have taken advantage of others’ generosity by posing as a charity. This is not meant to deter you from starting a text-to-give campaign, but to make sure you are using a trusted vendor to not appear scammy or disingenuous.
How to Run a Successful Text to Give Campaign
Don’t Over Complicate Things
You will get to pick out a code that donors will text in order to donate. Try to relate it to your organization or campaign and keep it short and sweet, for example, a food bank might want to use the term hunger10 to donate $10 to their fundraiser.
Be as specific as possible, just having people type "donate” is not enough. Make it applicable to you and your cause. This will help people feel more secure about donating and can indicate how their donation will be used for the better.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
Make sure you are advertising your campaign and getting it out to the world! Like we said earlier, it’s all about marketing impressions so people need to know how to reach you. Make it a part of your regular marketing efforts and consider sending out paid ads or reaching out to local media for PR help or generating earned media.
Some other ideas could be to
- Sharing text to donate instructions on your social media and email blasts
- Including it in your team and board’s email signatures
- Asking supporters and influencers to share your text-to-give keyword and designated number via their social media channels (here video works great!).
- Sending a press release to relevant trade or community publications announcing a new easy way for donors to lend their financial support
- Purchase out of home advertising, particularly on transit
- Work with media buyers to purchase advertisements. Sometimes they can leverage their connections to get donated billboard space.
Show Donors How Easy It Is To Give
The real appeal of text to give campaigns is how simple and easy it makes giving. So capitalize on that by showing donors how easy it could be to make a difference.
Consider creating a graphic or quick 15-30 sec video showing how to participate in your campaign, embed it in your newsletter, or share it across your socials. If you are promoting it on local news or media platforms spend a minute or two explaining how to works and the impact that people can make by spending 2 minutes of their time texting.
Follow Up With Donors
Treat your new text to donate donors as you would any other donation, which means following up with a thoughtful thank-you. Keep in mind if you are using an SMS-based texting platform that charges through a cell phone company, this likely won’t be possible.
Most cellphone companies will not give you their client’s personal information so when deciding how to plan your campaign that’s an important factor to consider.
A robust software can help with this process by automatically sending messages on your behalf. Depending on how you set up the donation, they can text back with a thank you message!
Consider Your Options and Test
Text to donate campaigns can be costly, especially if you choose to go through a phone provider, so if you want a good ROI there has to be a large volume of small donations. So it could work for a rally, or in response to a natural disaster but probably wouldn’t work as well in a digital ad where you could link to your website.
The important thing to do is test. If you have a campaign that you think would thrive with a text to give an option, try it out! Using a third-party service like ours is a great way to test out this fundraising technique while also being able to gather donor data.
Choose a Robust Text-to-Give Platform
Lastly, to support your campaign, you will need to find a platform that seamlessly integrates with your campaign. It has to be able to process donations and track donor data for you to follow up later and show your appreciation.
- Integrate Text to Give functionality, provides you to reach out to donors and integrate all activity and information into their records.
- Donations are seamlessly processed and tracked, allow you to provide consistent reporting, instantly.
- Process previous donors gifts through SMS by asking permission to charge their previously used card