Text-to-give Vs. Text-to-donate – which one to use for your nonprofit?

Published on November 22, 2019

Can you guess the answer to this riddle? 

I don’t ask questions, yet you answer me

I am not a part of you, yet you see me about 80 times

I receive a thousand messages, yet none of them are mine. What am I?

Answer = mobile phone!

The last clue was rather easy wasn’t it? And in case you are wondering, yes, an average person does check his phone about 80 times a day. 

A crucial part of that interaction is to make payment via phones. By 2021, the number is set to increase ten fold, accounting for more than $200 billion.


If you play your cards right, the user would be using his phone to communicate (and donate) to your nonprofit. 

This post can help you there. We will look at text-to-give and text-to-donate options for your nonprofit.

We will also analyze the pros and cons for each, and see which one would suit your organization the best. 

What mobile donation options do you have?

Mobile giving has increased by 205% in the last year. That means nonprofits are already leveraging mobile technology to boost donations. They do so via two major methods of giving. 

  • Text-to-give
  • Text-to-donate

Text-to-give or text to donate are giving options where a donor uses text messages to give to your nonprofit.

They have been remarkably successful, because text messages present certain unique advantages over other forms of communication. 


Texts are easier, more preferred (even over calls), and have better engagement compared to emails. 

Also, since they are non-intrusive, and quite personal they make the prospect more willing to donate to your organization. 

Finally, text messages facilitate a back and forth conversation between your nonprofit and the donor, thus engaging with him better. 

Even if text-to-give and text-to-donate do not include all the above positives of SMS (for instance, they are not conversational), the ease of use has made them indispensable for fundraising. 

If you are looking to diversify fundraising using text messages, both of these options are at your disposal. 

However, they might not always work for every fundraising campaign. Yes, the terms (text-to-give and text-to-donate) are used interchangeably, but there are certain key differences in how the donation amount is processed.

What is text-to-give?

A classic text to give campaign enables donors to give by texting a keyword (e.g., HAITI), to a shortcode (e.g., 90999). When they do, the donation amount gets added to their monthly mobile phone bill. 

The donation amount is pre-determined by your nonprofit and the mobile carrier. Carriers limit it to $5 or $10 or $25. So your campaign can be set up so that a donor gives either $5, or $10, or $25, per text they send you. 

You cannot change the donation amount once the campaign is set up. For instance, if you set up a $25 donation campaign, a donor cannot choose to give only $10.

Remember that your nonprofit has to meet certain criteria to qualify to receive donations via texts. Once you are qualified, you can set up the keyword and the shortcode.

After the campaign is set up you promote it across as many channels as you can, to reach all potential donors. Every time a donor texts in with the keyword, 100% of the donation is remitted to your nonprofit (without any handling fees or charges by the carriers). 

Text-to-give: case study (oldie but goodie)

The first time text-to-give campaign was used to raise funds at a massive scale, was during the disaster relief efforts for the Haiti earthquake (way back in 2010). 


Red Cross managed to raise $43million just using text to give – a remarkably high number, at that time.

If you are inspired by their success, and want to use text-to-give campaigns for your nonprofit, there are some more things you should know before getting started.

Here are some key details about the donors who donated via text to give campaign for the Haiti earthquake relief fund:

  • Every donation was sent $10 at a time
  • Most of these donations were made on an impulse
  • More than half of the donors interviewed did not follow-up on the relief efforts later
  • This donation did not influence donor’s future pattern of giving (more than ⅓ of them did not give again).

What do these facts imply?

It means that, though the disaster relief efforts were a success, it is not a sustainable means of raising funds.

For instance, if every donor can give only $10 per donation, you need at least 100 donors to raise just $1000 for your nonprofit.

Also, because these donations are based on impulse, most of these donors may not be interested in giving to you again (or be involved in your cause later on). 

So you would have just wasted a lot of resources to get $1000 – which you could probably win from one major donor. 

This does not mean that text-to-give will not work for your nonprofit. It just means that you need to thoroughly analyse the pros and cons of this method, before you choose it. 

What are the advantages of text to give?

The success of the Haiti campaign was not a fluke. It was able to raise such a generous amount because the campaign made it really simple for donors to contribute.

Easy to donate

The biggest advantage with text-to-give campaigns is that it is exceptionally easy for donors to make a donation. All they have to do is send an SMS to a short number – and pay for it when the monthly bill rolls in. 

Small donation amounts

Since the maximum donation amount can only be $25, it is not a huge investment for the donor. So donors who give on an impulse can easily be won with text-to-give. 

Take the Haiti campaign for example. 75% of text message donors said their donation was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Only the remaining 25% of donors did research before choosing to make a contribution.

Immediate impact 

50% of donors made a text message donation immediately after hearing about the campaign. An additional 23% of donors made their text message donation on the same day they heard about the campaign. 

The fact that they could donate directly from their mobile – a useful tool that is always in their hands is an undeniable factor in these high numbers.

What are the disadvantages of text-to-give?

Till date the Haiti campaign is the best example of a successful text to give campaign. The reason is that a lot of other campaigns have been impaired by the limitations this method brings.

No conversational engagement

The highlight of texts is that it is conversational – you engage in a realistic back and forth conversation. 

This is completely lost in a text-to-give campaign. Once the donor sends in the keyword, the maximum you can send is a generic thank you message that is automated. 

Donors cannot change how much to give

An obvious disadvantage is that the donation amount is fixed. So, if a donor wants to contribute more, he has to send several texts to the same keyword. Or, he has to find out other ways of contributing. 

Donor quality may not be suited for long-term giving

An asset to every campaign you run is the fact that the donor list can be re-used for a different campaign. That is, the campaign you run brings in donors who are genuinely interested in your cause. They want to make a difference and they want to be involved in what you do. 

So, the next time you reach out to them, even if they do not have the funds, they would be willing to help out with volunteering. 

With text-to-give, building such a quality donor list is not possible. Since the keyword and shortcode is promoted across all channels, you have no way of choosing who gets to see it. 

Say you promote your campaign on TV (like the Haiti case study), you would only be attracting impulse-based donors. 

While that is a good thing for the current campaign, these donors may not even be interested in your cause later on.

This will mean you have to try other means to build a donor list. Or waste a lot of time sifting through the current list and pick out the truly interested donors. 

When will text-to-give work for you?

Text-to-give is not the most efficient way of raising funds. It will work well for one-time campaigns or emergency fund raising (for disaster relief). However, if you are looking to build a stable donor base to support long term giving, text-to-give is not the most viable option.

Also, to initiate a text-to-give campaign, you will have to meet certain qualifications laid down by the carriers (i.e. have a gross revenue of more than $500,000 for instance). For fledgeling nonprofits, or for organizations who are not really big that could be a problem. 

Text-to-donate – a better way for nonprofits to raise funds via texts

In such cases, text-to-donate is an excellent option. Though it is often used interchangeably with text-to-give, text-to-donate is a little bit different. 

What is text-to-donate?

Donors still send a keyword to a short code to announce their intention to donate. However, in this model, in response to the keyword, a link to the check-out page is sent to your donors. The prospective donors follow the link, fill in the donation amount, and make the payment.  

There is no predetermined donation amount. The amount a donor chooses to give is entirely up to him. 

Text-to-donate platforms make this process even simpler. The payment processing page is hosted on their platform. So when a donor fills his information, it is stored securely on their tool. 


The next time the same donor wishes to give, all they have to do is send the donation amount via a text to the same number. The sum is automatically deducted from their account. 

From the example above, you can see that it is also easy to set up a recurring donation. An interested donor can simply follow the link to set up monthly donations. 

Advantages of text-to-donate

A lot of the advantages of text-to-give holds true for text-to-donate as well. 

Easy to donate

As with text-to-give, donors simply send a keyword to a shortcode to contribute to your text-to-donate campaign. After this, they follow the text prompt to the payment processing page and fill in their details. 

For repeat donors, they process is even simpler. Since their details are already saved, they just have to text in with the amount they wish to donate. 

Repeat donations

Recurring donation can be enabled in text-to-donate via a checkbox at the payment checkout page. This is an advantage over text-to give – where this is not possible. 

More engagement than email

You can send follow-up texts to the donor, thanking him for his contribution. You can also send other requests (like asking him to volunteer) over text. Since text messages have more than 8X engagement than emails, you have a better chance of engaging with the donors.

Disadvantages of text-to-donate

This does not mean that text-to-donate is without flaws. It has certain limitations as well.

No interaction with your nonprofit

Since the donor is redirected only to the payment checkout page, they still do not see the story behind your cause. They have no additional information about your nonprofit, unless they choose to research it later. 

This means that they do not get an incentive to donate more or donate immediately to your cause. Even after visiting the payment page, they can still drop off, without making a donation.

Lack of branding

Typically, the payment checkout page is hosted by the text to donate platform you use. It may not always be customizable. That means your organization’s brand is not quite visible while the donor makes the payment. 

As it is the first time he is interacting with your nonprofit extensive branding is important. The donor should see your organization as trustworthy and capable of making an impact for the cause. Otherwise, the donor will simply not be interested in future donations.

High hidden costs

Every time a donor makes a contribution via the payment checkout page, a percentage of the donation is taken by the platform vendor. You will also have upfront platform set up costs, maintenance costs, and subscription costs that will eat into your budget. 

Which is a viable option for your nonprofit? 

The best option is for you to use text-to-donate, and send the donors a link to your online donation form (instead of a checkout page hosted by the text to donate platform).


Take the same HAITI case study. When someone texts in saying HAITI to your short code, they would get a text back with a link to your website donation form. 

To make a donation, all they have to do is follow that link and fill in the transaction details. The amount gets directly credited to your account. 

You can also make it a recurring donation by adding a check-box at the end. The donor gets intimated before every monthly donation. All they have to do to discontinue the monthly donation is to send STOP to you keyword.

This has all the advantages of a text-to-donate system, while overcoming major disadvantages.

For instance, since you are directing the lead to your organisation website, they can easily read your nonprofit’s story there. It is a great way to get your lead more interested in your cause. 

It also takes care of your branding problem. By visiting your website they become more acquainted with your brand and thus are able to remember it. 

More importantly, this will work out way cheaper, because you do not incur carrier fees, nor the text-to-give platform fees. All that is cut is the credit card processor fees after every donation (and that is unavoidable). 

An excellent way to overcome the processor fees is to ask if the donor himself is willing to take it on. All they have to do is click on a check box (saying maybe extra tips), and the processor fees is added to their donation amount . 


Text-to-give V.s. Text-to-donate: a comparison

Both text-to-give and text-to-donate can be used  in your fundraising plan. If you are a fairly established nonprofit, then chances are that you already have a list of engaged donors. With every fundraising campaign, building a donor list may not be your priority.

In this case, to raise funds for an immediate (or unprecedented) event, text-to-give can be an excellent option. 

That is, you promote a keyword and a short code, donors can text you the keyword. The prefixed donation amount is added to their monthly bill. 

Here you do not have to win the audience’s loyalty because you are already well-known. The donors have already heard of your organization and do not need additional information to make a contribution.

On the other hand, if you are a (relatively) new nonprofit looking to win funds, then text-to-donate is a better option for you. 

You can direct donors to your online donation page, where every donor can interact with your nonprofit’s story. 

Since the donation amount is not predetermined, you have an opportunity to encourage the donor to give more. By creating a compelling online donation page, or by having pre-filled sums, you can simplify donations. 

This will also help you in building a robust donor list. Since every donor engages with your organization via the website, they will get more interested in your cause, and be willing to donate again later. 

It gets even better if you are already using an sms marketing software (like CallHub). Then you do not have to pay extra vendor fees for using text-to-donate.

You can also engage the donors via follow up texts and include thank-you messages after every donation.  

Here is a comparison of the fundraising methods using texts

CriteriaText-to-giveText-to-donateText-to-donate (send link)
DefinitionDonor texts in with a keyword and short code. Funds added to mobile carrier bill.Donor texts in with keyword and short code. Link to checkout page sent. Donor signals intent to donate. Link to online donation form sent via text
Recurring givingNot possible to set upRepeat donors can simply text with donation amountRecurring donation can be automated
Donor infoOnly name and phone number is collectedOnly name and phone number. Rest of the data is tokenizedDetailed donor information can be collected
StewardshipOnly SMS blasts can be sentOnly SMS blasts can be sentMultichannel engagement possible
Story-tellingNot possibleNot possibleYou can tell them the story behind your cause
FundtransferDepends on when the donor pays the phone billCan get interrupted if the platform is glitchyImmediate fund transfer directly to your account
Carrier feesIncurredNoNo
Processor feesIncurredIncurredCan be taken up by donor
Vendor feesIncurredIncurredCan be sent out from your sms marketing platform (at no additional cost).

Bear in mind that these methods are initially resource intensive. You have to spend a lot of time setting up each campaign and promoting it. Therefore getting the right software is crucial in determining the success of your fundraising effort.

Going forward, this article will refer text-to-donate as enabling donations via text message. That is, you initiate the donation process by sending your prospective donor a text with the donation link. 

This text could be in response to a keyword, as part of a bulk message or even via a peer to peer campaign. We will discuss each of these options in detail. 

Text to donate using Opt-in SMS campaigns

Opt-in SMS campaigns are when prospective donors text in with a keyword to a short code, signalling their intention to donate.

It is rather like the traditional text to donate (where you set up a keyword and a short code), but that is where the similarity ends.

When the donor texts in with the keyword, you can send them a link to your online donation form. 

When can you use it?

As we have seen in the above examples, use SMS opt-in campaigns for projects where you want to raise a lot of money and the donor quality is not an issue. 

It also works best in situations where the impulse to give is the strongest. That is, it could be for an urgent cause (like disaster relief), or an added incentive to donate during the holiday giving season.

The Bay Area Fire Relief Fund used text to donate rather well. To help families that were affected by the California forest fires, they set up a campaign and reached out for help. In just three short months (from Nov 2017 to Jan 201) they managed to raise $300,000!

What will it entail?

Setting up a keyword, the shortcode, and the entire campaign is the easiest part of the whole process. It will take one of your volunteers an hour (in CallHub) to get this up and running.

What will take up the majority of your resources is advertising the campaign. The success of an opt-in campaign heavily depends upon how well you promote it. After all, only if people are aware of the campaign can they actually be encouraged to donate!

So before you set up this campaign, you will also have to spend some time planning it out. You have to identify which channels are best to promote it and when can you actually run the promotion. 

For instance, if you find that a lot of your audience listen to the radio during commute, you can run radio ads during peak hours. 

How can you refine your campaign?

Since your campaign capitalises on impulse giving, not a lot of donors will be willing to give out their information. Apart from their number (and maybe secure card details), there is not much you can know. 

However, you can segment your donors with some advanced planning. You can have separate keywords for each channel of promotion. 

So everytime a donor opts-in with the keyword, you would know which channel they came from. This can also give you insights on which channel works best for you – so that you can target your future campaigns better.

How can you set it up in CallHub?

CallHub is an SMS marketing software that will help you set up the keyword and the shortcode. It will also help you send automated responses to those donors who opt-in with the keyword. 

Step 1. Select opt-in campaign from the dashboard

Step 2. Get the technicalities right.

  1. Name your campaign. When you run multiple SMS campaigns, it is hard to keep track of them all. So make your campaign name as descriptive as possible.
  2. Choose a number (or shortcode) and keyword: We know that renting a shortcode is expensive. That is why we give you the option of renting a number to which donors can text in. Also, you have the liberty of choosing your own keyword. 
  3. Decide how to store donor data: Every donor who texts in with the keyword will automatically get saved in CallHub. You can choose to save them separately in a new “contact list” or add them to your existing contact lists.

Step 3. Craft a compelling script

Your SMS campaign has two kinds of texts. One is a “Prompt” and the other is a “Thank you message”. Both of them are sent to the donor at different times and have a crucial role in the whole campaign.

  1. The Prompt is sent to the donor as soon as he texts in with the keyword. This text contains the link to the donation page and prompts him to make the donation.
  2. Then there is a thank-you message. As soon as your donor clicks through to the link (and finishes payment), this message thanks him for his efforts. 

So make your prompt compelling enough – you want the donor to click on that link. Also, make your thank-you text sound genuine – you want the donor to feel happy about the contribution.

Once you have the script done, your campaign is complete. All you have to do is promote it and CallHub will take care of the responses. 

Text to donate using Bulk SMS

Opt-in campaigns are a great way to bring in new donors for your cause. But do not forget that you have an existing list of donors, who have contributed to your cause previously. You can reach out to them for help, via Bulk SMS. 

In this campaign you broadcast an SMS to all your donors (who have consented to getting SMS from you). This SMS contains the link to your online donation form. As before, donors can follow the link to your form and complete making a donation.

The difference here is that the donors have not initiated contact. Based on their previous giving pattern, you are sending them a targeted message with the donation link. 

When can you use it?

A bulk SMS campaign can be used to compliment your existing nonprofit fundraising efforts. For instance, say you are holding a charity ball, a bulk SMS can be sent to all attendees to pay a bit more for your cause. 

It can also be linked to your social media fundraising efforts. You can import your social media followers to your texting tool and send them all a bulk SMS, seeking support. 

What will it entail?

The biggest advantage with bulk SMS is that setting up time is extremely small. In CallHub, you can send out a bulk SMS campaign in under 15 minutes. 

The total cost of the campaign will depend largely on the number of people in your contact list (as you will be charged a fixed amount per SMS). You will also have to pay a small fee ($2 in CallHub, per month), to rent a local number to send out the texts from. 

For your nonprofit, in terms of resources, both volunteer commitment and costs are limited. Apart from these platform requirements, a key factor in bulk SMS is the quality of the donor list.

You need to already have a good list of donors who are engaged with your cause, so that they would be happy to respond to your bulk SMS. Since building such a quality donor list is rare (and happens only after a few years), not all nonprofits can claim successful fundraising with bulk SMS.

How can you refine it?

Targeting the bulk SMS campaign to select donors on your list – those who are most likely to donate, will drastically increase the impact of your campaign. 

Here, you can filter out the most engaged donors with the help of your CRM. Those donors who have repeatedly given to your organization in the past will make the first cut. 

Then, you can also send the campaign to those donors who are involved with your organization’s story.

If they have read every (or most) emails you send, have seen every case study and newsletter you email them, then chances are they would be interested in hearing the story behind this campaign as well. 

Such donors will get the same link to the donation page, but the messaging in the SMS will be different.

One more distinction you can make is based on the geographic location of the donor. If you can craft your SMS to appeal to each of these audience segments (separately), then the conversions for the campaign would be higher.

How can you set it up in CallHub?

The advantage with a broadcast SMS is that it is (like opt-in), a ‘set-up and forget’ campaign. CallHub gives you an option to handle the responses automatically. 

Step 1. Select Broadcast SMS from the dashboard

Step 2. Get the technicalities right

Step 3. Set up targeting

Step 4. Schedule it

And you are done. Hit send and watch the donations pour in. 

Text to donate using Peer to Peer campaigns

Peer to peer campaigns are the epitome of SMS marketing done right. It is a personal, back and forth conversation between your volunteer and a donor. 

During the course of the conversation, if the donor is willing, the volunteer sends him the donation link. Since the donor has already consented to making a donation, the chances of him completing the donation is quite high. 

Also, in this scenario your volunteer has an opportunity to talk about the cause and why this donation will make a difference. If he is able to convey how important the donation is, then the donor will also be inclined to donate more. 

When can you use it?

Peer to peer campaigns for text to donate need not be stand alone campaigns. They can be used to follow up on the previous bulks sms campaigns. 

Say you have sent out broadcast SMS with the text to donate link. If the response is poor, then you can initiate a peer to peer campaign to those donors who you think are most likely to respond. 

Such conversational asks can also be used at the end of your fundraising campaign, if you are falling short of your goal. 

Here you can reach out to everyone in your donor list (who has not donated thus far to this campaign), and ask them to help meet the goal. 

What will it entail?

Peer to peer campaigns are a little more labor intensive than bulk texts. Your volunteer has to personally handle every conversation. 

However, with a tool like CallHub, he can initiate 3500 conversations in under an hour. Also, he does not have to type out every response from scratch. He can create ready made templates before starting the campaign. During every conversation, he can quickly edit them (based on the donor’s response), and then hit send. 

This is an efficient way of personalizing the entire conversation, without spending a lot of time on each message. 

You will also be charged for every message you send out. So remember to target only those donors who have had a successful giving history (with your organization).

How can you refine it?

Predicting donor behavior is easier when you have access to said donor’s past giving history. This is where a CRM can help. 

You can filter out donors based on two criteria:

  1. They should have contributed to your organization before
  2. They haven’t yet made a donation for this particular campaign

All you need to do is upload this list to your texting platform and initiate a peer to peer campaign. 

If your CRM integrates with your texting platform, then this works heavily in your favor. Using said integration, you can pull data about the donor to make your conversation more personalized. Here is a list of such data that can come in handy:

  1. Past donation amount
  2. Which campaign he donated to 
  3. How often he has donated
  4. Any specific data on why he made the donation

How can you set it up in CallHub?

In CallHub, every volunteer can initiate multiple conversations simultaneously with each donor. Based on the responses he gets, he can customize the response template and send over responses.

Step 1. Select Peer to peer campaigns from the dashboard

Step 2. Get the technicalities right

  1. Name your campaign
  2. Finalize the script
  3. Add ready-made replies to customize later

Step 3. Add your donor list to your campaign

Step 4. Sort out the agent details

Step 5. Schedule and run the campaign!

How to measure the ROI of text to donate?

As with all your campaign efforts, it is important (and absolutely possible) to measure the ROI of your text to donate campaigns. 

A common pitfall that all nonprofits encounter here, is blindly comparing only the total amount of funds raised by sms fundraising to other channels of fundraising. 

For instance, saying that SMS fundraising is ‘not working’ because it brought in only $1000, when peer to peer fundraising raised $5000, is not a fair evaluation.

Instead of comparing only the funds raised, it is more important to compare the other advantages that is brought about by both the channels. 

For instance, SMS marketing would’ve saved you a lot of volunteer hours. The same $1000 would’ve been raised in a week, with a volunteer not spending more than an hour or so for each campaign. 

Peer to peer fundraising, on the other hand, would’ve been more labor intensive. It would’ve cost you volunteer effort and time to reach the same number. 

Similarly SMS fundraising would boost your engagement rates, when compared to say email fundraising. 

You would also be able to add more fields in your online donation form to collect donor data. This could make your future campaigns more targeted.

Therefore, evaluating the success of your text to donate campaign should be measured in terms of:

  1. Efficiency: Did it save your volunteer time, effort and paperwork
  2. Engagement: Have you had more responses (even if it is a no), from your prospects, than you would, from say an email or a snail mail. 
  3. Donor information: Since you are directing prospects to your online donation page, you can collect more information about them (eg. why did they donate?), which would not be possible by other methods. 

There are of course certain key metrics that would be unique to each campaign. For instance, say you are raising funds for a time-sensitive cause. Then how quickly text to donate helped you meet your target fund goal is an important element to measure.

Text to donate for church fundraising

Not many people bring cheque books (or even cash) to service anymore. So even if they want to donate, it is delayed because they do not have the means to do it just yet. 

To help such donors and to simplify donation, you can enable giving via text messages (yep, people bring their cellphones to service). 

Called “Text to tithe”, churches can boost fundraising by encouraging their constituents to donate by texting a keyword to a shortcode.

Here are a few examples you can try.

Opt-in Campaigns during Sunday service

Traditionally you would pass around the collection plate during (or at the end of) the Sunday service. The congregants would give what money they can or maybe drop a cheque.

With a text to donate platform, you can simply ask your congregation to text in the keyword to your short code. 

Ensure that the keyword they have to text and the shortcode they send it to are easy to remember. Eg. Send “Tithe” to “12345” to support your church. 

You also have to make sure that every member is aware of this new way to donate. So you could make an announcement from the pulpit (after your sermon). Or, the campaign could simply be an additional line in the Psalms board.

Once donors text in the keyword, they can get an automated response with a link to your online donation page. The donors can follow the link to make the donation. 

Quick tip: Make your donation form (and online donation page) mobile friendly. It is a fact that responsive design doubles mobile giving!

Bulk SMS to raise money for year end giving

Quite apart from the weekly donation, you can run separate text to donate campaigns to raise money for specific purposes.

Encouraging contributions for your year end giving is the perfect example. You can send out a bulk SMS to every member of your congregation, asking for their contribution. 

The link in this SMS can be to a landing page that you have created exclusively for this campaign. Having a dedicated landing page can help boost your donations. 

Quick tip: Set up an automated thank you response to thank donors who contributed to your Church.

Peer to peer campaigns to meet fundraising goals

Your congregants are invested in the welfare and the everyday proceedings of the church. So, if you approach them with a personal text, and ask them for a contribution they would be interested in making a donation. 

Say you have plans for renovating a particular section of the church and your capital fundraising campaign has not met the goal. 

You can set up a peer to peer fundraising campaign and appeal to your congregants separately. 

Quick tip: Target the older members of the congregation first, before approaching the newer ones.  

How can schools use text to give to raise funds?

Educational institutions have an inherent advantage when it comes to SMS communication. Both, the parents and the students alike easily consent to receiving texts from the school. They also read and act on every text that is sent. 

Typically, such texts involve updates about school schedules, exam timetable, PTA meetings etc.. Since the recipients are used to receiving only important and pertinent information, a fundraising ask via a message will not be easily dismissed. 

Opt-in campaigns during school fests

School carnivals, cultural fests, and sports events are occasions which attract a large number of audience (both parents and students alike). 

Promoting your text to donate campaign during these events will help boost your fundraising efforts. 

For one, the audience are in a generous mood (having fun) and would be willing to donate. 

Secondly, the primary focus of these campaigns are the parents (as they are the ones who donate). So it makes sense to promote your campaigns when they are present in large numbers (e.g., a game day). 

Quick tip: Such events bring in a lot of guests as well. So remember to frame your message so that it appeals to everybody in the audience.

Bulk SMS campaigns for back to school appeals

With cut-backs on Govt funding, the first hit would be getting book supplies and stationery for your students. 

This is when you can ask parents for support and appeal to them to chip in. Since they have a vested interest in ensuring their children’s education, they would be happy to make a contribution. 

You can broadcast a bulk SMS to every parent on your list, asking them to donate what they can. 

Quick tip: Make sure you keep the parent contact list updated. You do not want to send such appeals to parents whose children have already passed out. 

Peer to peer campaigns to meet capital funding goals

The state of the art stadium or the laboratory you are building may not be possible with limited funding. You can definitely reach out to the parents and ask them to chip in. 

Peer to peer campaigns work better in this scenario, because you can personalize the impact this effort can have on their child. 

Quick tip: You can also encourage in-kind donations. If during the conversation you find that the parent wants to help, but cannot do so monetarily, send them a link to sign up for volunteering. 

How can you use it for universities?

Alumni contributions play a huge role in University funding. Since the students have already passed out, they would not be used to receiving regular texts from the universities (like course schedule, fee payment reminder etc).

Therefore you should take care not to bombard your aluminus with a large number of fundraising asks (and only fundraising asks) over texts. If your alumini are used to getting only requests for money from you, they are less likely to respond to it. 

Ensure that you mix up communication with updates about the University, or share success stories of students who passed out to keep your audience interested. 

When you plan to approach them for fundraising asks, here are a few ideas you can consider.

Opt-in campaigns during alumni meets

When your old students are reliving their glory days, you can promote your opt-in text to give campaign. 

Remember to mention how important their contribution is and what impact it can make to the University. 

Quick tip: Space out your promotion asks. If you promote your campaign during every alumni meet, the request will fall on deaf ears.

Bulk SMS during convocation

Every time a class passes out, it is a feather in the cap for your institution. While you celebrate them, remember the previous batches that passed out too! Send a bulk SMS to your alumni students and remember their convocation. 

With this message, you can include the success of scholarship students, and ask for a contribution to increase the scholarship amount. 

The class of 2019 pass out today! We had 45 scholarship students who passed with distinction! We had 115 students who had part scholarship and paid the rest of the way. Some of them worked two jobs to make the fees. Kudos to them all for their effort! You can help such students by contributing: bit.ly 1235

Quick tip: Direct the donors to an exclusive landing page. Keep this page updated and in sync with the message you send out. For instance, the donors should not click through to the link and find a page for planned giving. 

Peer to peer campaigns to raise funds for planned giving

This campaign is specifically for older (and more involved) alumni. If the ex-student has had a history of giving to their alma mater, you can encourage it by making personalized asks. 

Typically, you would’ve already introduced your planned giving program to the alumnus. With a peer to peer campaign, you can follow up with them to see how inclined they are to donate. 

Since planned giving gifts will involve a lot of legal work, it cannot be achieved over an online form. What you can send them via the text message is a quick confirmation of their intent to donate. 

Once they have committed to making a planned gift, you can follow up with face to face meetings to iron out the legal details.

Quick tip: Personalize the conversation with details about the alumnus. If the alumni was a scholarship student, reiterate how useful their gift would be to other students like them, who would need the extra financial support.  

Best practices for text to give

Because text to donate has a lot of advantages, it is easy to think that once you set it up, donations will pour in. 

Nothing can be further from the truth. A successful text to donate campaign is well thought out, meticulously executed, and followed up. Before you launch your campaign, here are certain best practices to tick off:

Make the keyword and shortcode easy to remember

It would be quite sad if an interested donor is unable to contribute because they cannot remember the keyword or shortcode. 

If you are using a shared shortcode, you cannot change it. However, you always have the choice of picking a keyword. Instead of using generic ones like “Give” or “Donate”, you can also try keywords that are specific to your cause. E.g, AIDSZERO

Promote your campaign well

The campaign should reach all potential donors. So do your preliminary research before investing in campaign promotion. 

Use social media and volunteer support to reach the campaign to get as many eyeballs on your campaign as possible.

Use mobile responsive forms

The donors who land on your donation page will be accessing it through their phone. So ensure that page is mobile optimized. They will not have a good donor experience if they find the page unnecessarily cluttered or tough to scroll through.

Segment and target your audience

This is true especially for using bulk SMS to text to donate. The same message or text will not resonate with your entire contact list. So segment them as precisely as possible and send personalized message to every contact on the list. 

Offer pre-selected donation amount

Once a prospective donor clicks on your link to the donation page beyond, you can simplify the donation process for them by offering standard sums. The donor can also have the option to fill in his own amount and complete the donation.

Send the message at the right time

You are bound by TCPA guidelines to send texts only during the day. However, sending texts on a monday morning would be a bad idea (as your donors would be quite busy prepping for the week). Research and test what time works best for your audience before you carry out your text to donate campaign. This time could vary between bulk SMS and peer to peer SMS campaigns.

Establish success metrics

Do not begin the campaign without having a clear idea of what you will define as campaign success. The end objective of your campaign could be: cutting fundraising costs, increasing volunteer efficiency, or simply to boost engagement within your audience. Though these objectives are not directly tied to fundraising, they will impact the amount of money raised by a significant margin. 

Now that you know the fundamentals (and then some) of text to donate, you can try it out for your organization. Testing the efficacy of your opt-in text to give campaign may take time (you have to promote it too). 

Which is why, I suggest sending a bulk SMS with a fundraising request. Based on the response rates, you will easily gauge how effective a strategy it is for your organization.