Michael Sabat is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub and the VP of Business Development for Mobile Commons. He focuses on pursuing new markets and making sure that customers are using the Mobile Commons software effectively. Michael works directly with some of Mobile Commons’ larger clients including the Obama Campaign, the California Department of Public Health and the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.
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During the annual end-of-year fundraising season, people get asked to donate to different causes left and right. Text messaging is a great way for your nonprofit to cut through the clutter, reach your supporters, and drive more donations.

The Human Rights Campaign found that text message subscribers are 2.5 times more likely to donate than a non-text message subscriber. The Humane Society of the United States found that members who received a text message reminding them to donate were more likely to give online by 77 percent.

It’s clear that text messaging can achieve some pretty incredible results. However, before you start messaging everyone on your mobile list with fundraising asks, it’s important to create a plan first. Whether you’re texting your supporters to ask for a donation, reminding them to donate online, or sending them a link to a mobile web page, you should think about how each action will lead to better results.

An effective and targeted text message campaign can make all the difference in helping you reach your end of year fundraising goals. Here’s a checklist of five key points to consider when planning your end-of-year SMS fundraising campaign:

1. Coordinate with Your Other Marketing Campaigns

The key to a successful multi-channel fundraising campaign is creating a cohesive story across your different marketing messages. Text messaging can help you tie your narrative together by reaching your supporters at exactly the right moment.

Think about how you can use text messages to catch the attention of your supporters. For example, you can send a text alerting supporters that your fundraising gala tickets will go on sale tomorrow. You can also A/B test which timing combinations work best. Do you get more responses by sending out a text message reminder before, at the same time, or after an email donation ask? Gaining insights from simple tests can lead to better fundraising results in the short-run.

2. Make Sure Your Mobile Donation Web Page is “Thumb Friendly”

One common mistake is sending your supporters a text message link to a long and difficult to read mobile donation web page. You know your subscribers will be opening your text messages on their mobile phones, so make sure your links direct them to “thumb friendly” mobile web pages.

To optimize your landing pages for mobile, include large, easy to push buttons, clear calls-to-action, and simple forms that make it easy for a mobile user to fill in their information and submit a donation. Try to minimize the amount of scrolling, and use “smart” forms that only ask for missing or required information to save space on the page.

3. Personalize Your Outreach to Each Donor

Subscribers are most likely to take action when you engage them personally. By segmenting your list and writing different messages for each group based on their actions or interests, your campaign will stand out from the rest. For example, the content you send to long-term, engaged donors should be different than what you would send to someone who just joined your mobile list.

Personalization can be applied not only to basic data like name and location, but to fundraising behavior as well. Ask your dedicated donors if they can match or exceed last year’s contribution. Or remind them of the great work that you were able to do this year with their money, and fill them in on what is to come. For new supporters, send text messages to educate them about your organization, why it is so important to donate, and how their donation will support your cause. Remind them that every gift is important, no matter what size!

4. Test Out Every Form and Text Message Beforehand

Few things frustrate donors more than finding that their good intentions are thwarted by a broken mobile web form or clicking on a link in a text message that leads them to nowhere. A simple yet crucial step in an effective fundraising campaign is making sure all your donation paths actually work before you send out any messages.

Test drive all your text message flows, links, forms and web pages to make sure that there are no issues. Catching those little mistakes can save you time in the long run and prevent last-minute crises.

5. Follow-Up Every Donation with a Personal Thank-You

One of the most important parts of any fundraising campaign is thanking your donors. With text messaging, you can send personal thank-yous to each of your donors to show them how much you appreciate their support. You can also use this opportunity to continue to build your relationship with donors by sending them follow-up text message updates showing what your organization has achieved with the help of their donations. Recurring donors give more money than those who simply gift once, so it’s definitely beneficial for your nonprofit to keep your text message subscribers consistently engaged.

This fundraising season, stand out from the crowd by planning a thoughtful and targeted text messaging campaign. Use these five checklist items and make the most of your mobile list. From Giving Tuesday all the way through New Year’s, text messaging can help you set the stage for a great 2015!

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Want to learn more about how to use text messaging for your fundraising efforts? Visit Mobile Commons for more blog posts and other resources. They are leaders in the nonprofit space for mobile marketing campaigns and text messaging best practices.