Text-to-Give Fundraising: Making the Most Out of Mobile

Mobile giving is on the rise, and there’s no platform more prevalent than text-to-give.

As you can probably infer from its name, text-to-give software enables donors to make contributions by texting your nonprofit. How these platforms work varies by vendor, but most only require a cellular connection and a few simple steps in order to complete a donation.

We won’t get into the nitty-gritty of text-to-give here (if you need to brush up on the basics, check out our guide!); instead, we’ll be focusing on how you can make the most of text giving for your nonprofit.

Here are the best practices we’ll cover:

  1. Make sure text-to-give is right for your organization.
  2. Advertise effectively.
  3. Pair text-to-give with an event.
  4. Devise a data management strategy.
  5. Follow up with donors.

With these tips, you’ll be able to text your way to fundraising success!


1. Make sure text-to-give is right for your organization.

As with many specialized forms of fundraising, text-to-give isn’t right for every nonprofit.

To clarify, your nonprofit should absolutely offer your donors some sort of mobile donation option given how universal smartphones have become. But text-to-give is only one of the many types of mobile giving to choose from, and it requires the implementation of a new tool and an allocation of resources (training time, software and advertising costs, etc.) to pull off.

If your nonprofit is considering this channel, you should first ensure that text-to-give will be a good fit for you and your donor base.

Here are a few tips to help you decide if it’s suitable for you:


  • Your donor base has indicated an interest. While you might not have any directly relatable data on file to help you determine whether your donors will be responsive to text-to-give, your donor database can give you hints. Has a large percentage of your base historically given through online channels? Have they been responsive to digital communications? If yes, text-to-give is likely an excellent option!


  • You’re often on the go. If your nonprofit is frequently engaging constituents offsite (for example, you host a lot of fundraising events), you likely need a donation channel that can move with you. Text-to-give is an easy and convenient option that almost every donor is already equipped to use!


  • You’re looking to diversify. Maybe your organization has channeled all of your resources into one fundraising strategy, or maybe it just feels like you’ve exhausted all of the ones presently available to you. In any case, it never hurts to diversify! The more giving options you present, the more you’ll be able to resonate with your donors’ preferences.

In short: Text-to-give software may not be suitable for every organization. Give some consideration to your needs and budget before you make the leap.


2. Advertise effectively.

While text-to-give may be a great option for you and your donors, this channel will fall flat if your organization doesn’t take a strategic approach to advertising.

When implementing a new tool, raising awareness is key. After all, if your donors aren’t aware that they have the option to text in their donations, they won’t take advantage of it.

However, awareness is only the first step to building an effective text-to-give advertising strategy. Here’s what else you should be doing to ensure that your mobile fundraising is a success:

i. Make sure it’s multichannel.

It’s a common misconception that only donors who prefer online appeals will donate through text-to-give.

But the fact of the matter is that engagement preferences and giving preferences aren’t one and the same. Just because a donor would prefer to receive a handwritten appeal through the mail doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t find it convenient to follow up using text-to-give.

That’s why it’s important to advertise text-to-give through all communication channels, not just online outlets. Include information about text-to-give in direct mail, print ads, at signage during fundraising events…everywhere!

When your nonprofit takes a multichannel approach to text-to-give marketing, your donors will be able to give in the way that’s most convenient for them, which will increase the chances of them doing so in the first place.

ii. Walk your donors through the process.

Text-to-give fundraising not only takes awareness; it also takes explication.

While text-to-give has a low learning curve (after all, your donors are probably texting from their phones daily!), it’s a safe bet that many of your donors have never used this type of platform before.

Make sure to walk donors through the process every time you mention text-to-give as a donation option. Write up a brief bulleted list or show the steps with images.

Your donors will be much more likely to take advantage of text-to-give when they feel confident about how to use it.

In short: To maximize text donation potential, your organization will need to devise an effective text-to-give advertising strategy that raises awareness, explains the platform, and approaches donors through multiple channels.


3. Pair text-to-give with an event.

While donors can certainly use text-to-give from the comfort of their own homes, this giving channel was born to be taken on the go!

Text-to-give is an especially great option for event fundraising, when nonprofits more than ever need an efficient and reliable way to accept donations outside of the office.

The beauty of text-to-give is that donors can use it at any time throughout the event. Whenever the giving fancy strikes, all they’ll have to do is reach into their pockets and take out their cell phones!

Freedom to give is great, but your organization can still benefit from some structure, too. Here are a couple of directed ways to make the most out of text-to-give during your next event:

i. Make a live donation appeal.

The live donation appeal is a popular event fundraising strategy wherein someone from your organization will request that your guests make donations to reach a definitive fundraising goal.

When utilizing this strategy in the past, organizations had to collect paper pledge cards from dozens or hundreds of attendees and then follow up to ensure that these pledges were fulfilled.

Text-to-give takes the work out of the live appeal. To help you hit your fundraising goal, all donors will have to do is text in their donations, which are processed on the spot.

Not to mention, many text-to-give platforms have fun gamification tools, like fundraising thermometers, that can help you up the urgency of your live appeal. When donors can see their contributions add up in real-time, they won’t be able to resist the challenge and, in many cases, will make multiple gifts to ensure you hit your goal!

ii. Accept pledges.

Some text-to-give platforms will also give your organization the ability to accept text pledges. If you have this capability, take advantage of it!

While the process of accepting pledges may be a little more involved, it can really increase event fundraising potential. Pledges make donating viable for more supporters.

Consider this common scenario: a donor is dying to give to your cause but left their credit card at home. If they have the option to submit a pledge, they can still show their support now even if the donation comes later.

In short: Text-to-give makes event fundraising convenient for both you and your donors. If you’re looking to raise more at your next event, think about giving it a try!


4. Devise a data management strategy.

The potential of text-to-give fundraising transcends just this one channel. In fact, text-to-give can have a positive impact on your other fundraising methods, but only if your organization is strategic about it.

What we mean here is that text-to-give can provide your nonprofit with tons of valuable new donor data, especially if you’re using it alongside of strategies that tend to attract a lot of new donors, like events and crowdfunding campaigns.

However, in order to be able to leverage the data received through text-to-give, it must be well organized and able to be used in conjunction with the other donor data you have on file.

Before you start using text-to-give to collect donations, make sure you have a sustainable data management plan in place.

You should be working with software that allows for easy movement of data between platforms. Make sure that you can easily export the data you collect through text-to-give to import into your nonprofit CRM software.

With no rote data entry to worry about, you can spend more time focusing on your donors!

In short: Your text-to-give fundraising is just one part of a greater fundraising and stewardship strategy. Devise a solid data management plan to capitalize on the donor relationships text-to-give brings your organization.


5. Follow up with donors.

Scoring that initial text-to-give donation is great, but it won’t get your organization that far in the long run. In order to really maximize text-to-give fundraising, you need to be able to motivate donors to give through this channel (and others!) again and again.

So how is it done? By following up.

While it seems like a simple and obvious step, far too many nonprofits are still forgetting to follow through with their donors. Once the donation has hit their accounts, they simply put the donor’s information into their database and send some generic communications in the hopes that one-time donors will remain invested in the cause.

However, this failure to follow through is a huge mistake. It takes active stewardship to retain donors, and that process starts the second after a supporter has hit the submit button.

While you should follow up any time a donation is made, it’s especially important to do so when donors are giving through online and mobile channels. Since they’re sending their donations into cyberspace, it’s helpful to provide supporters with that extra reassurance that their funds have made it to your nonprofit and are being put to good use.

Luckily, text-to-give software makes the initial follow up easy. You can automate receipts and thank-yous that send out right after the donor has made a gift. However, you should still follow up in a more invested manner by sending a personalized acknowledgement within two days after a donation has been made.

Also, don’t forget to send updates to your donors as you realize the work that their donations have made possible. When they can see that their contributions are actually reaping positive change, they’ll be more likely to keep giving!

In short: Failing to follow through with your text-to-give donors can negatively influence your fundraising long-term. To build a base of donors for life, make sure to send a donation receipt, a personalized thank-you letter, and frequent progress updates after their donations.

major donors

Karrie Wozniak

Karrie Wozniak is an expert on mobile fundraising. She is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at BidPal, the leading mobile fundraising software company that helps nonprofits engage more donors and raise more money. Since 2008, BidPal has helped nearly 2,800 organizations raise more than $1 billion and connect with over one million unique donors.

April 6, 2017

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