Text to Donate for Small Nonprofits—Everything You Need to Know

February 4, 2019 - 11 minutes read

Raising donations is an important part of a nonprofit’s goals—even more so if the nonprofit is a small or new organization. While there are several ways of soliciting and acquiring funds, they aren’t always effective. How many times have you opened an email on your laptop requesting you to contribute, but closed it because the donation process simply seemed like a hassle?

Cue mobile fundraising, and more specifically, text-to-donate. Now, all nonprofits have to do is promote their fundraising campaigns on various channels, and people can donate through their smartphones with just a few clicks. The beauty of this tool for small nonprofits lies in its:

  • Preference: donors simply have to pull their smartphones out of their pockets and can make a donation whenever the fancy strikes
  • Quickness: donors only have to enter their details the first time they donate. For their next contributions all they have to do is send the keyword to your nonprofit shortcode.
  • Choice: there’s no cap on how much donors have to give. They can choose to give anything from $5 to $100.

More and more nonprofits are moving to this form of mobile fundraising. But if you’re a small nonprofit which isn’t sure of how your campaign would pan out or how you should go about your text to donate campaign, fret not! We’ve included a step-by-step guide to ease you into your text to donate journey.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Software Provider

The first step your nonprofit would have to take is deciding on the right text to donate platform. Some of the important factors to keep in mind are:

  • Cost: Make a note of their monthly/annual cost, payment processing fees, and maintenance fees (if any). Some providers charge for extra shortcodes and keywords as well, so note down these costs as well.
  • CRM integration: Make sure that the service you go for integrates with your existing database so that data management becomes smooth. You’ll also be able to draw relevant insights since all your supporter data would be in a single place.
  • PCI Compliance: The software provider must be PCI compliant which ensures donor data remains secure.
  • Features: Some vendors would provide useful features such as auto reminders which get sent if donors forget to donate and automated follow-ups to thank donors for their contribution.

Step 2: Setting up the software

Now that you’ve decided upon the software, the next step would be to register your account. You have to:

  • Decide your keyword: Keep it short and simple so that potential donors can easily remember it. For eg: DONATE
  • Be aware of your shortcode: This 5 digit number is where donors are going to be texting their shortcodes to. This triggers the automated reply which leads donors to your fundraising page. For eg: DONATE to 45678
  • Build your fundraising page: Make it mobile-friendly with only the minimal required fields present so that donors can quickly complete their gift. Use large text and include recurring donation options to increase the number of funds you get.

Step 3: Deciding your Goals

Set up your fundraising goals beforehand so that you can measure the success of your campaign. Be sure that the target you’re looking to hit is attainable. Use a fundraising thermometer which you can display on your fundraising landing page, website, and social media handles. This way donors are aware that every contribution they make drives you closer to the goal and helping the cause, and is useful in motivating them to keep donating. By having a quantifiable and clear-cut aim, you get an indicator of how well your text to donate campaign is doing and if any changes in your strategies are required.

Also, decide what you’re going to be accomplishing once you’ve gotten your funds. Use this information to tell donors what impact their gift is going to make.

Step 4: Confirming Donor Contact Information

For your mobile fundraising campaign to be successful, you need to ensure that the donor contact information you currently have in your database is up-to-date—you want ALL your supporters to be aware of your campaign to increase your donations. So send an email to all your supporters, volunteers, and donors informing them about your upcoming text to donate campaign and requesting them to verify and update their contact details. Mention this on your website and social media as well so that people who haven’t checked their emails know they have to update their information.

Step 5: Promoting Your Campaign

Now that you’ve confirmed all your donor information, the next important step is to market your campaign. Create compelling promotional videos, blog posts, advertisements, and social posts which clearly explain why your campaign requires donations and what it is you’re going to do with them. Make your images and messaging sincere and heartfelt so that viewers and readers genuinely feel like contributing. Use a multitude of channels for promotion such as:

  • Email: Most people check their emails on their smartphones so use this medium to talk about your text to donate campaign by including images and your story. Not everyone will be familiar with this form of donation so include (or link out to) a guide which answers all the necessary questions. You can also add a donate button to your email to give readers another way of donating.
  • Text Messages: Texts can be used to urgently draw contacts’ attention to the need to donate. For eg: “Hey Melinda, text DONATE to 57689 to help provide clean water to people in the Congo. For more information, check out this link: givecongo.ly” This medium can also be used to have a back-and-forth conversation with your contacts. Since you’re a small nonprofit, you can actually afford to spend time talking with donors, answering queries, and urging them to donate. Similar to the screenshot below:

  • Direct Mail: This channel gives you the scope to be as detailed as possible, so you can explain in detail about the urgent need to contribute. Give instructions on how t2d works and include screenshots as well your phone number.
  • Phone calls: Being a small or new nonprofit, your contact list would be relatively low. You should use this to your advantage by personally calling all your contacts and talking in detail about your campaign. This has the potential to be super effective since your phone call would not only be persuasive but would also help improve your bond with your donor. Use an automated dialer to optimize your time on your calls.
  • Social Media: This is the perfect place to promote your keyword and shortcode as widely as possible. Post images, stories, and updates about how your followers can donate via their smartphones. Build up a sense of urgency by including a fundraising thermometer, and urge your followers to react to your updates so that their friends can see your campaign too.

In addition to this, you should promote your campaign on your homepage as well. By using various channels, more people end up seeing your campaign resulting in more donations.

Step 7: Thanking your Donors and Following Up

Whether someone donated $5 or $100, you must thank them so that they know their contributions are appreciated. This helps you build a bond with your donor and ensures they stay loyal to your organization. Send automated texts thanking them and mention how their contribution is going to have a positive impact on your goals. By both thanking and mentioning how their money is going to be used, a sense of trust gets incorporated into your relationship and is extremely important for small nonprofits, especially when they’re starting out.

Step 6: Tracking and Monitoring your Campaign

It’s necessary to constantly track your text to donate campaign to analyze how you’re doing: whether you’re on track to meeting your fundraising goals, if your messaging needs tweaking, the number of new donors you’ve acquired, etc. This gives you the opportunity to be proactive and make strategic changes if necessary. Since you’re running this type of campaign for the first time, you’d have to be prepared for a trial-and-error approach since you don’t necessarily know what’s going to work for your organization. By tracking and monitoring, you’re ensuring you retain control of the campaign.

Text to donate is a tool which has the potential to create huge impact. Follow these strategies to ensure your campaign pans out successfully by acquiring the maximum number of donations.

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