Fundraising Through Conversational Texting – The Beginners Guide

Published on February 8, 2020

People want to be heard. That’s what communication is all about. With one-way outreach channels like emails on the decline, channels like peer-to-peer texting that let you have engaging conversations with supporters are surging.  

Take fundraising text messages for example. They have click-through rates of a whopping 13%. Compare that to email at 0.44%.

Turns out conversational messaging is the perfect way to boost your donor retention rates and bring in new donors to the fold. When you take time to listen, respond and have a conversation with supporters, you can deepen the significance of your supporter relationships.

You might already have a good idea about how to implement conversational marketing into your existing communications with your contacts. Here’s how you can use conversational text messaging for fundraising:

Get attendees to your ticketed events.

So, you want to turn supporters into paying event attendees.

That means taking them on a journey—from being mildly interested in your cause and your event, to clicking on the link to your event registration form and entering their credit card details. 

Send an initial text message to gauge interest
Lay out the bare details of your event in the initial message: 

What is the event for?
When is it taking place?
Where is it taking place?

Conclude by asking your supporter if they are interested in coming to the event.
If yes, send a link

Send them a link to your event registration page. Make sure the page is mobile optimized.
Acknowledge their registration

Once your contact has registered for your event, send a quick acknowledgment text thanking them for making the (hopefully easy) decision to attend.

Lead new supporters to your donation page

Once you have your supporters opted-in to your communications, be it by texting into a number at a rally, or submitting a form on your website, you want to get them to your donation page. By segmenting your supporters, you can figure out who is worth engaging in personal conversations.

Thank them for their interest
You have the opportunity here to ask them for additional details that will help you target your communications later on.
Link out to your donation page
Briefly talk about your cause and then link out to your donation page.
Thank them for their donation
Showing donors that you appreciate their contribution will move them along the path of making a repeat donation.

Convert special event attendees to donors

The period after an event or a rally is fertile ground to plant the thought of donating to your cause in the minds of your event attendees. Since they just interacted with a group of like-minded people and got to see a tangible impact of their involvement they’re more likely to donate to the cause.

Thank them for attending
Start off on a high note by thanking them for attending your event and making a difference for your cause.
Not only does this remind your supporters about your event, It also puts them in a good mood for your next message.
Ask them to donate
Every single donation goes a long way when it comes to supporting your cause. Make sure that’s clear to the supporters you’re talking to.
Send follow-ups after the donation
Send a followup immediately after their donation, thanking them for all their support.

Send another followup, later on, showing donors the impact of their donation.

Spread the word about a goal or mission

Let your supporters and donors know about new and ongoing efforts, causes and missions with a personal message.

Send a quick intro text
Briefly talk about your mission and ask donors if they are willing to chip in.
Send a link to donate
If you get a positive reply, waste no time sending a followup text message with a link to your donation page.

Reach out to lapsed donors

Donors could stop giving for any number of reasons. Bringing them back means you need to reach out to them and understand why they left before asking them for another donation.

Thank them for their past support
Start off by sending a thank you text message to donors who haven’t contributed in over a year. Let them know you recognize their support, and ask them what went wrong. You can do this by asking lapsed donors for feedback on how you can do better. Collect their replies via text or send them a survey form link.
Let them know their feedback was valued
Let lapsed donors know that they will see positive changes based on their feedback.

Just the effort put into understanding what went wrong with lapsed donors can act as an impetus to bring them back.

With a personal connection, you have a better chance of getting lapsed donors back into the fold.

Obtaining referrals from existing donors

There’s no better advocate for your cause than someone who is already a supporter. Take advantage of your dedicated supporter base to bring in new people.

Ask them if they’re willing to spread the word
Send out an initial text asking supporters if they are willing to reach out to their friends and family about your event or cause.

Make sure the message is conversational while containing information like the date and location, if you want them to attend an event.
Send them a link that they can share

Once they respond in the affirmative, send a link that they can share amongst their social circles.

Promote your monthly giving program to previous donors

If your organization or nonprofit has a monthly giving program, talk to supporters about how they can impact your cause by joining.

Thank them for their previous support
Have the texting volunteer introduce themselves and thank the donor for their continued support. If you have the data, remind them how much they have contributed so far. Ask them if they would be interested in your organization’s monthly giving program.
Send them a link to your registration page
If they reply in affirmative, send them a link to your donation page or monthly giving registration page.

Retaining existing donors

So you want to make sure your existing donors keep being supporters. The most important thing you can do is keep them informed. 

Thank them after a donation
A thank you through a personal channel like a text message or a call by a volunteer is bound to have more impact than a generic email.
Send them an impact report
Let them know how much they helped raise after a fundraiser and how those funds are going to help.

Promote your pledge fundraising campaign

The option of donating later is a powerful motivator for supporters. In addition, you can keep in touch by sending follow ups reminding them about their pledge.

Introduce your pledge campaign
Talk about the event or campaign you are organizing and ask supporters if they are willing to pledge a certain amount.
Send a link to you pledge page
If you get a positive response, share the link to your pledge fundraising page.
Send periodic follow-ups for unfulfilled pledges
Send polite, conversational follow-ups to remind donors about their pledge.

Moving social media followers and website visitors to a donation

Your followers on social media and the visitors to your website are all potential donors.

With conversational messaging, you can successfully guide them from there to your donation page.

Alert them about your mission
You can use a Facebook Messenger bot to send out a message to your followers, or a chat bot for people visiting your website. Include a link to your donation page. If they are not interested in donating, you can engage them with a lower barrier ask instead.

Here’s how you can start using text messages for fundraising

Figure out where conversational texts can improve your process

Take for example, if your organization is soliciting donations through social media posts to followers.

You may be reaching out to donors in a variety of ways. Some of them could be working pretty well. Others, not so much. And yet, some channels could potentially do better if done through conversational messaging.

Social media is a pretty great tool, but it doesn’t allow you to have personal, engaging conversations with supporters. Conversations are more likely to convince someone to take action, be it to attend an event or donate to a cause.

Follow text message best practices

Sending out conversational, peer-to-peer text messages is different from sending out a mass text to all of your contacts. Make sure the messages you send are highly conversational, targeted and personalized.

Take a look at our 13 best practices for sending out peer-to-peer text messages.

Add conversational text messages to your existing flows

Conversational messaging takes a bit more time than your average “set it and forget it” automation. That means you probably don’t want to replace all of your existing flows with it.

Simply adding conversational messaging to things you are already doing can greatly improve your fundraising returns.

Take for example a thank you email to an event attendee. You could send them a follow up text asking them for feedback on the event.

Map a text message conversation flow

A lot of the time, the conversations you have with contacts are going to be predictable. A script can give volunteers a structure to their conversations.

For peer-to-peer texts, conversational structure comes in the form of templated replies. Map the conversation flow you expect volunteers to have with contacts and provide a templated reply at each point of the conversation that they can send out.

Gather your volunteers

Find the texting agents who will be taking care of your peer-to-peer texting campaigns. It could be members of your staff that can spare some time sending out text messages and replying to incoming ones, or it could be volunteers you recruited specifically for conversational marketing.

Iterate by analyzing your results

Once you’ve put your conversational marketing practices in place, you need to monitor them. Analyze your message engagement and if you are getting positive responses.

Do you need to tweak your messaging a bit, or send your texts at a different time? Test your outreach until you get the optimal response rates.

Explore your horizons with conversational messaging

Once you’ve tweaked and gotten conversational text messaging working for your fundraising you can start replicating that success for other parts of your communication strategy.