5 Ideas for Using Text Messages at Your Nonprofit

December 24, 2018 - 9 minutes read

The screwdriver is an essential part of every carpenter’s toolbox, being lean yet sturdy. When I was a child, the screwdriver was my favorite toy because my dream job back then was to become a carpenter. I’d roam around the house all day with my red colored screwdriver, successfully dismantling my other toys and unsuccessfully trying to reassemble them.

What I discovered, however, during my “screwdriver phase” was that it could be used for so much more than just screwing screws. It was fantastic for scratching your back, digging interestingly shaped pebbles from the ground, clearing dirt from the underside of your shoes, opening cans, threatening your friends (relax, I only used it to threaten them, not attack them!)…the list goes on and on!

Text messages are similar to screwdrivers in that way. While their obvious use is to send information to your nonprofit supporters, they can do so much more than just that. Here are 5 ideas for how your nonprofit can use text messages.

To Obtain Feedback and To Promote

Creating an interactive experience for users is easy with text messages. You can keep your volunteers and supporters engaged through an automated messaging flow with:

  • Surveys: Gain valuable insights through multi-choice questions aimed at understanding the issues which bother supporters, what they feel strongly about, and how your nonprofit can improve. By sending these surveys periodically, over time you can build a repository of valuable feedback helping you strategize better.
  • Quizzes: These are a fun way of interacting and are useful for testing volunteer knowledge about your cause and nonprofit. To generate more enthusiasm, offer prizes to the most informed people. Send a text like: “Hey Max, want to challenge those brain cells by participating in our quiz? Winners get an awesome T-shirt from us! Hit Y if you’re in and N if you’re not.”
  • Polls: You can send these for both serious and slightly less important issues. Text a bunch of potential dates for an important rally to estimate which date is likeliest to get maximum supporter turnout. Likewise, you could have a poll to decide the theme for your year-end party.
  • Promotional Offers: Give contacts a small gift in exchange for them spreading the word about your nonprofit. For example—”Hi Alice, we’re giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card for supporters who leave a testimonial on this link!”

To Hold Conversations

Perhaps, the biggest advantage of text for nonprofits is not its simplicity or high open-rates, but its ability as a medium to hold one-on-one conversations. Not just with ten or hundreds of supporters, but thousands of them for a variety of reasons:

  • To answer queries: Your emails or website can’t possibly answer all the various questions which people have. This is where SMS works. Perhaps a supporter wants to take part in an upcoming campaign but isn’t sure of what their duties would be. They would then text the contact number published on your site, and your staff would converse with them and give them the necessary information.
  • To fundraise: You can contact prospects, new donors, lapsed donors, and long-time donors and tell them how their contribution would help. You can build relationships by engaging with them over time via text through your campaign updates, special offers, and event details before making your fundraising ask.

5 Ideas for Using Text Messages at Your Nonprofit_Fundraising

  • To thank and motivate supporters: Send a personalized text thanking volunteers and for their hard work and indicate how important they are for the cause. Likewise for donors. If the outcome of a campaign didn’t go as expected, be sure to cheer up and motivate your troops. Ask them for their opinion which shows that you value their viewpoint. For example, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope! Thanks for your hard work, John. If you believe there is something we can change in our approach, please let us know 🙂 “.

To Send Important Messages

Since text messaging is the fastest way of communicating with supporters, it’s certainly well-suited for sending important reminders and alerts.

  • Reminders: Contact campaigners and supporters and remind them to attend upcoming events and rallies (with their corresponding venue/timing details). Prompt them to sign an important petition or renew their membership. Depending upon the volunteer’s role, you can also send texts reminding them of their respective duties on upcoming campaigns.
  • Alerts: Here, texts are extremely important for nonprofits aimed at providing disaster relief. Inform people of the crisis-hit areas and provide them with the necessary steps they should take. Urge people to text you with their locations so you can evacuate them. Other nonprofits can use texts to send updates regarding last-minute changes in campaign or event schedules/locations so people can plan accordingly.

To Educate People

As a nonprofit, raising awareness about your cause is your primary concern. Your aim is to spread the word among as many people as you can and get them on board. Texts not only help you do this but also let you educate supporters on how they can help the cause.

The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition have started a text4baby campaign which sends expectant and new mothers important advice and health/safety tips to ensure both babies and mothers stay healthy. They also send fun quizzes to ensure mothers remember the information being texted their way, with studies proving that these texts helped mothers retain information better.

5 Ideas for Using Text Messages at Your Nonprofit_HMHB

Similarly, your nonprofit organization can send periodic informational texts to ensure supporters remember your cause and act on it.

To Recruit

The more volunteers you have, the faster you can act and reach your goals. A text-message based recruitment drive for your nonprofit has the advantage of ensuring that only interested people reach out to you instead of the other way round. All you need to do is publish your contact number on your website and social media accounts“For all you people looking to make a difference, here’s your chance. Text IN to 45674 to show us that you’re interested, and become a volunteer with Hope Society”. Once you have their details, you can organize an interview or an orientation session and take things forward from there.

Text messages can be instrumental in your outreach efforts for different purposes. Let this tool be the “screwdriver” for your nonprofit, although for much more pressing needs!


CallHub offers three types of SMS campaigns suited for different nonprofit use cases. If you want to schedule a demo, simply click on the button below!

Schedule a Demo

Tags: ,