Text Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide

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Text fundraising is a great tool for your organization to increase fundraising and expand your audience reach by allowing supporters to donate through a simple text message. When researching text fundraising, you may see it referred to by many different names, including text to donate, text to give, SMS fundraising, text giving, mobile giving, or text to pledge. This can be an easy addition to any campaign, or you can host a campaign specifically for text donations!

How to Set Up Text Fundraising

Once you have a platform that supports text fundraising, all you’ll need to do is set up a keyword for your supporters to send to a designated number with the amount they wish to donate. Depending on the platform, this will either lead donors to a donation form to complete their donation, or simply charge the donation through your donors’ phone bill. 

Benefits of Text Fundraising

There are quite a few benefits to text fundraising, and one of the biggest is how quick it is to donate. Supporters are more likely to give if donating is fast and convenient, and being able to text in their donation is both. This is because it takes less than two minutes for the average donor to respond to a text. Text fundraising also encourages more spontaneous donations since the process to give is immediate. It’s easy to share the campaign through social media or between friends because the only thing to remember is the keyword and designated number. These benefits make text fundraising an impressive tool to add to any campaign.

How to Use Text Fundraising

Text donations can be used side-by-side with peer-to-peer events, pledge drives, other events, or on its own. But before you start, consider your donor base, platform costs, and how often you plan on using it to decide if text fundraising will work for your organization.   

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Use these six steps to complete your next text fundraiser! 

  1. Choose a text fundraising platform 
  2. Plan your campaign 
  3. Promote your text fundraising campaign
  4. Thank your donors 
  5. Update your text fundraising supporters 
  6. Analyze your results 

Choose a text fundraising platform 

If your organization is using text fundraising for the first time, you’ll need to find a platform that supports text donations. While there are plenty of fundraising platforms for nonprofits, not all of them are able to offer every feature your organization may want to use. If your nonprofit already has a system in place, check to see if it supports mobile giving. This is a great place to start your research on different platforms that use text fundraising so you can guarantee you pick the best choice for your organization. 

Every organization has different needs that they require from a text fundraising platform, as well as different budgets. Consider what your nonprofit is using text donations for and how much you can afford to spend on both the platform and any training your staff may need. A text fundraising platform should be easy to use for both your staff and your donors. You should be able to seamlessly incorporate your organization’s branding on donation forms and customize your fundraising experience.  

There are a few features your organization should consider when researching platforms. You want your supporters to quickly recall the number to text, so look for platforms that offer a short code number instead of a full phone number. If your organization wants the texts to link to a donation form rather than pill your donor’s phone bill, make sure the text fundraising platform you choose also offers customizable donation pages. Your organization should be able to track the traffic to these links to see how many people are looking at your campaign.

Recurring giving is another feature to take into account as recurring donation increases donor retention. If your organization plans to use text fundraising often, look out for outbound message caps and how much a platform charges for going over the cap. Other features to consider are text message personalization and donor segmentation. These features allow your organization to create more individualized messages rather than robotic texts.

If you’re hosting a text fundraising campaign for the first time, make sure you run a few test text messages once you choose a fundraising platform. This will help you get familiar with it and ensure that the process runs seamlessly for your supporters. 

two people outside sharing a text fundraising campaign

Plan your campaign 

The next step for your text fundraiser is to plan your campaign. When setting up your text fundraising campaign, your organization needs to establish your goals. Create your goals using the SMART method. Set objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Once those are determined, you need to choose a keyword for your supporters to use. This keyword is what donors will text to the number your fundraising platform provides to donate through text. Your keyword should be simple and easy to remember. Donors should be able to quickly recall and type it in to make the process as fast as possible. 

After choosing your keyword, update your donation pages for the campaign. Besides branding your pages, you want your donation forms to display your text donation option and show any messages from text donors. Make your branding consistent across the board by planning your messages to your supporters. Develop messages that are short and to the point. While you don’t want to spam your supporters with long texts, you still want your messages to be compelling. Donors are more likely to finish a transaction if it is easy and quick to give, so try to keep text fundraising appeals under 250 characters. 

Promote your text fundraising campaign 

After you’ve set up your campaign, it’s time to advertise your cause. Use multiple communication channels to share your text fundraising campaign with your supporters. These announcements should include your chosen keyword and the number to text to make it as simple as possible for donors to see. Include longer appeals as emails to explain in depth what your fundraiser is for. For social media, post a photo of the keyword and number, or create a short video appeal for your cause. Use a highly visible call to action on your website to encourage participation in your text fundraiser.  

How you emotionally appeal to your donors for your campaign amongst different communication channels should be consistent. Make your messaging exciting for donors while keeping the focus on fundraising. There are many ways to create effective messaging for your cause depending on your type of campaign. One common method is to use humor in your text fundraising appeals. Use short puns or a cheesy joke in your messages to get supporters excited to donate. Another method is to utilize urgency in your messaging. Let donors know how quickly your organization needs funds for a specific project or create a deadline to donate by producing a sense of priority for donations. 

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Thank your donors 

One of the most important steps in any campaign is thanking your donors, and text fundraising is no different! Showing your supporters your gratitude for contributing to your campaigns is crucial to donor retention. For text donations, you’re given many opportunities to thank your supporters quickly. One opportune best practice for text fundraising is to add a preemptive thanks in your appeals for donations. This preemptive gratitude helps get donors in the giving mindset. Just add a quick thanks for supporting at the end of your messages. But don’t just stop at your anticipatory thanks! Make your supporters feel your gratitude after they’ve contributed. 

Another great way to guarantee your supporters feel appreciated is to automate a thank you text to immediately send after a donation is complete. Automated messages will make sure your donors are thanked within the first 48 hours of their gift. When preparing your thank you messages, personalize your messaging to populate your supporters’ names and donation amount in the message if possible. Adding personal touches to the messages you send to your supporters helps your donors feel connected to your organization. This connection encourages donors to give to your nonprofit again in the future.  

text fundraising message thanking a donor for a fifty dollar pledge

Update your text fundraising supporters  

After your campaign ends, be sure to send your text fundraising supporters updates on your organization. One of the most important updates you can send is how close your nonprofit came to reaching your fundraising goal. Before your campaign ends, send out a few reminders with how close your supporters are to the objective. These reminders make donations feel more urgently needed. If you complete your goal, celebrate your success with a message to donors about what they accomplished. For an unaccomplished objective, send an update with how close your organization came, as it can encourage supporters to send small donations after your original campaign ends to hit the target. 

You can also use this opportunity to let your donors know more about how their contributions are being used to help your cause. Develop messages that explain what will be accomplished with the funds from the campaign to show the direct impact your supporters have on the world by donating to you. Use personal stories to show the results your organization can produce. Knowing where their money is going can make donors feel more confident in their donations, which in turn can lead to an increase in future support. These follow-up messages can include prompts to participate in your next text fundraising campaign to continue your relationship with your donors. 

Analyze your results 

Once all your text fundraising donations come in, it is time to collect and analyze the data your organization gathered from the campaign. There are many different data points to pay attention to when looking at your results. The most important figure to look at is how much money your campaign raised versus the goal your nonprofit set beforehand. This information will be shared with your donors, so it’s crucial to calculate the numbers as quickly as possible. Another big number to look at is how many supporters participated in the campaign. If you see a decrease in participation or funds raised when text fundraising versus other types of fundraisers, you’ll need to look more into your donor data and messaging techniques. 

Once you have these data points, you can look more in depth at your results. Look for what percentage of donors were new to your organization to see how much text fundraising increased your audience reach. This will also help you determine your averages across the campaign, such as your average donation amount or average donor profile. Utilizing this information can help you segment your donors and use a more detailed approach for future campaigns. All of this data leads to finding the most effective messaging for any future text fundraiser. 

Final Thoughts 

When your organization starts text fundraising, plan your campaign ahead of time for the best possible results. Whether it’s part of an event or a campaign on its own, text fundraising is a fast and easy way for your donors to show support to your cause. Text donations can increase your funds and bring in a new donor segment to your cause. 

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