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The average American picks up their phone 96 times a day, or once every 10 minutes. For most of us, this equates to hours of scrolling through social media, checking email, and staying in touch with family members and friends. For nonprofit organizations, this represents an effective way to engage with supporters amid the ongoing pandemic. Since most in-person events have been canceled or modified in some way, nonprofits have expanded their digital and mobile fundraising capabilities to engage supporters remotely. This includes exploring text fundraising opportunities that allow organizations to connect with supporters directly on their mobile devices. According to Double the Donation’s nonprofit fundraising statistics, half of last year’s nonprofit website traffic came from mobile and tablet users. This demonstrates the crucial importance of connecting with supporters on mobile devices, and text fundraising is a great way to do exactly that. In this quick guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about text fundraising, including:

  • What is Text Fundraising?
  • What Do You Need to Get Started With Text Fundraising?
  • The Steps of the Text-to-Give Process
  • Text Fundraising Best Practices

Text fundraising offers a great opportunity to meet supporters where they are and provide a convenient, easy fundraising avenue. Read on to learn how to take advantage of this innovative fundraising method.

What is Text Fundraising?

Text fundraising refers to any form of fundraising that involves communicating with supporters over text messages. You might have heard text fundraising described using a multitude of terms, including:

  • Text-to-give
  • Text-to-donate
  • Mobile giving
  • Text-to-tithe (specific to church fundraising)

All of these terms refer to basically the same thing. Each of these processes typically involves your nonprofit signing up with a text fundraising platform and receiving a dedicated phone number. Supporters who text the phone number receive a link to submit an online donation. We’ll dive deeper into the steps of the process in a later section.

What Do You Need to Get Started With Text Fundraising?

You’ll need access to a virtual fundraising platform with a texting feature to launch your text fundraising initiative. Your online fundraising platform should enable you to easily get up and running with a text-to-give campaign with features such as:

  • The ability to create customizable, mobile-friendly online donation pages and forms
  • The ability to track donor data, such as demographics and donation frequency
  • Social sharing capabilities to increase awareness of your text fundraising channel

Browse your options for online donation tools to find a robust, comprehensive fundraising platform that offers these features and more. For instance, a tool like Donately allows you to create a streamlined, mobile-responsive donation page and use it within your text fundraising campaign. In addition to your online fundraising platform, you’ll also need marketing tools to promote your text fundraising campaign. Ensure your nonprofit is making the most of its social media pages, email newsletters, and website blog. Each of these platforms can engage a different audience and spread the word about your initiative. The more people you can reach, the more money you’ll be able to raise for your cause through this mobile fundraising channel.

The Steps of the Text-to-Give Process

One of the greatest benefits of launching a text-to-give campaign is how easy these initiatives are to set up. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Choose a text fundraising platform. Ensure your text fundraising platform allows you to send fundraising pages, peer-to-peer campaign sign-up links, and general fundraising updates.
  2. Create a mobile-friendly online donation page. Your donation page should be mobile-responsive so supporters don’t face any formatting issues when submitting their donations.
  3. Receive a dedicated phone number and keyword. The keyword can be related to a specific event or your nonprofit in general. Ensure it isn’t too long or complex so that supporters can easily remember it.
  4. Encourage supporters to text the keyword to your phone number. Promote your text-giving opportunities on your social media pages, email newsletters, and website.
  5. Track donor data and fundraising results as supporters use your text-giving options. As donations begin pouring in, use your online fundraising platform to track donor data.

That’s it! Once you have your phone number and keyword, you can start promoting your text-to-give initiative throughout various events or communications. Next, we’ll explain how you can optimize each step of the text fundraising process to achieve the best results.

Text Fundraising Best Practices

If you’ve never conducted a text fundraising campaign before, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the best practices to make your initiative a success. Proper preparation ahead of time will ensure that you’re making the most of your online giving page and text-to-give software. Let’s walk through a handful of tips that will help you craft an effective fundraising campaign.

Ensure your online giving page is streamlined and user-friendly.

Within your text fundraising campaign, you’ll send supporters a link to your online donation page. Therefore, you must ensure that your customized giving form is easy to fill out, particularly for mobile users. Donately’s donation page guide offers tips for streamlining your form, such as:

  • Only ask for necessary information. Just because donors click on your donation page link doesn’t mean you’ve secured their donation. If your giving form asks too many questions, it could cause supporters to abandon the form before submitting their gift. Keeping it to just vital information encourages supporters to fill out the entire page.
  • Include a limited number of compelling images. Since supporters will view your giving page on their phones, be sure to include a handful of compelling images or graphics to engage supporters without overwhelming them. Choose images that show real human interactions related to your organization’s mission.
  • Offer suggested giving amounts. When supporters view your giving page on their mobile devices, their objective is likely to complete the form as quickly as possible and move on with their day. Provide several suggested giving amounts to help supporters quickly decide how much they want to give. Give a wide variety of amounts to appeal to all types of donors, from small donors to major contributors.

Be sure to check how your giving page looks in the mobile view before launching your text-to-give fundraiser. Then, you can adjust it if there are any formatting issues to ensure supporters only view the streamlined final product.

Encourage recurring gifts.

Recurring gifts provided a steady, reliable funding stream. If your organization has a recurring gift program such as a monthly giving program, your text fundraising campaign offers a great way to promote it. Include an option for donors to transform their one-time gift into a recurring donation on your online giving page. Then, use your text platform and marketing channels to encourage your audience members to take advantage of this opportunity to become more involved supporters of your nonprofit. Be sure to choose a fundraising platform that allows supporters to manage their own recurring donations. Quality online fundraising software allows donors to adjust the payment type, frequency, and amount of their donations by themselves. This helps save time for your staff and gives donors greater control over their engagement.

Incorporate donor insights into your strategy.

As mentioned, a robust online fundraising platform will allow your organization to track donor data through your digital giving form. This data can tell you:

  • Who your most active donors are
  • What your most popular donation amount is
  • What your most popular donation days of the week are

Once you have access to this data, don’t just let it hang out in your donor database indefinitely — incorporate the insights you gain into future fundraising initiatives! For instance, you might have identified that Thursday is your most popular donation day of the week. You can schedule more social media posts and email newsletters to go out on Thursdays to take advantage of this trend. Or, you might notice that a handful of major donors used your text fundraising service to contribute. You can create a specific text-based outreach strategy to cultivate relationships with these donors and encourage them to stay involved in your mission.

Use text-to-give in other fundraising initiatives.

Your text-to-give initiative can be a natural addition to several other fundraising campaigns. You can use it to offer supporters easy and convenient access to your donation page whenever and wherever they feel like giving. Incorporate text-to-give in your:

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) campaigns: In a P2P campaign, supporters conduct fundraising activities on behalf of your nonprofit. Use your text fundraising platform to provide instructions on how supporters can set up their personal fundraising pages. Then, ask supporters to promote your text-to-give number throughout the P2P campaign. These campaigns allow you to spread the word about your text fundraising channel to a wider audience since supporters share your phone number with their family and friends.
  • Direct mail campaigns: It might seem counterintuitive to combine text fundraising and direct mail. After all, direct mail is a traditional, tangible fundraising channel, while text fundraising takes place on mobile devices. However, you can easily add your mobile giving information to your direct mail postcards and letters, allowing recipients to pull out their phones and give on the spot. Your organization will be able to receive the funds faster than if they mailed back a check or cash.

You should also incorporate your text fundraising initiatives into your daily fundraising efforts. Whether it’s sharing an occasional Facebook post with your text-giving information or including your text-giving number in your email newsletter, there are plenty of ways to keep this fundraising channel in supporters’ minds.

Adopting text fundraising allows your nonprofit to make the most of your digital fundraising efforts and open a new funding stream. If you want to ensure your organization is truly where it needs to be when it comes to digital fundraising, partner with a nonprofit consultant. These professionals will ensure your internal strategies are effective and can make recommendations for improving on your weaknesses. Good luck and happy fundraising!

This article was contributed by Jacob Spencer, Customer Success and Account Manager at Donately.