Text-to-Give: The Powerful (Yet Untapped) Fundraising Tool
Text-to-give technology allows donors to give to nonprofits and other organizations of their choice directly through the text messaging app on their mobile devices. This way of mobile fundraising gives organizations the opportunity to raise money any time, anywhere.
Part One: Learning About Text-to-Give
Text-to-Give: The Basics
What is Text-to-Give?
Text-to-give, also known as text-to-donate, text-to-tithe, and text giving, is using texting to donate to nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations.
Who's it for?
Text-to-donate tools are for charitable organizations who want to engage with donors across their various fundraising campaigns.
How it can help?
Mobile fundraising is one of the easiest ways donors can contribute to your organization and allows you to receive donations from donors on the go.
How does text-to-give work?
Step 1. Choose a software provider.
There are numerous text-to-give providers. Make sure that you pick a platform that offers the features your nonprofit needs and keeps your donors’ information secure.
Step 2. Get a phone number.
Your nonprofit will receive a unique phone number from your text-to-give provider. This will be the number that donors use to text in their donations.
Step 3. Promote your campaign.
Once your nonprofit is set up with a text-to-give provider, it’s time to start letting donors know about your campaign. Use your existing communications strategies to get the word out about how donors can donate via text message.
Step 1. Text a phone number.
Once they know what your nonprofit’s text-to-donate number is, a donor can simply text their donation amount. For example, if they want to donate $50, they simply have to text “50.”
Step 2. Follow the link.
Within seconds, a donor will receive a link embedded in a confirmation text. The donor can easily click on the link to be transferred to the next step.
Step 3. Check email inbox.
The link will lead the donor to a pre-written email that just needs to be sent. If it is the donor’s first time giving, they will also need to fill out a short donation form with their credit card information. If they want to donate again later, they simply need to text a donation amount and send the confirmation email.
How to Get Started With Text-to-Give Software
Step 1: Ask the right questions about text-to-give software.
To incorporate text giving into your overall fundraising strategy, your organization should answer the four W questions: Who? Which staff member(s) will be in charge of running your campaign? What? What exactly will you be using your text-to-give platform for? When? What is the timeline for implementing mobile giving? Where? Where will you share the news of your new text-to-give campaign? With these questions in mind, you should be able to get mobile giving up and running in no time.
Step 2: Check that you’re ready for mobile and text-to-give fundraising.
You never want technical difficulties to stand between you and a donation. Before your text-to-donate campaign goes public, have staff and a handful of trusted donors test out your online donation forms to make sure they’re mobile-responsive. Work out any kinks and keep testing until you’re absolutely sure that your mobile forms are fully functional.
Step 3: Update contact information before launching your text-to-give tool.
You can’t get in touch with your donors if you don’t have the right contact information on file. Implementing a new fundraising strategy is the perfect time to reach out to donors and make sure their information is up-to-date. Shoot your donors an email informing them about your new campaign and asking them to confirm their contact information so you can keep them in the loop.
Step 4: Seek out key influencers to help you get text giving off the ground.
People will be more likely to get on board with mobile giving if they hear about how awesome it is from their peers. Widen your reach by recruiting some influential advocates from your network to help you inspire new donors to contribute to your text-to-give campaign. With a larger base on your side, you’re sure to see better fundraising results.
Step 5: Be realistic about your text-to-give plans and set attainable goals.
Your donors will be more likely to give if you set clearly defined goals for your campaign instead of just making a general ask for donations. Donors like to know exactly where their money is going and how it’s helping your organization, and setting a quantifiable goal ensures they’ll be able to do that. Although you want to dream big, make sure your goal is realistic. You don’t want to overwhelm your donors, especially since you’re already introducing a new fundraising strategy.
Step 6: Make your plans known. Market your text giving campaign!
Nobody will participate in your campaign if they don’t know about it. Use your other outreach channels to start marketing! Since many of your donors won’t yet be familiar with text-to-give, your marketing strategy should not only raise awareness, but also be informative. Give donors a brief rundown about how text giving works and assure them that the platform is secure. Then, outline what steps they need to take to participate in your campaign.
Step 7: Execute, track, and improve your text-to-give strategy over time.
Now that your plan is in place, it’s time to dive right in and execute your campaign. However, keep in mind that, just like any of your other fundraising efforts, your text-to-give campaign is a work in progress. As you go along, make note of what works and what doesn’t, then adjust to keep honing your strategies and making more out of your mobile giving.
Types of Nonprofits that Use Text Giving
Just about every type of organization can and does benefit from text-to-give technology. Below are a few major categories that encompass most of the groups and nonprofits that use text giving.
Churches & Faith-Based
Arts & Culture
Colleges & Universities
Part Two: Exploring Text-to-Give Tools
Benefits of Text-to-Give
Benefits for Nonprofits
- Raising funds swiftly. With just a few clicks, your donors can quickly and easily donate to your campaign, helping support your cause.
- Gathering donor data efficiently. Once donors give, you’ll be able to collect their names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Joining forces with other fundraising techniques. Combine your text-to-give efforts with other fundraising methods to maximize the amount you’re able to raise.
Benefits for Donors
- Donating quickly and on-the-move. Text-to-give technology enables donors to give to their favorite organizations from anywhere and at anytime.
- Giving in a recognizable format. Most donors already text on a regular basis. Thanks to the platform’s familiarity, text-to-give is easy for donors to grasp.
- Feeling secure about sharing their information. Leading text-to-give software abides by strict safety standards for donor data, putting donors’ minds at ease.
Text-to-Give Best Practices
Walk Your Donors Through The Process
One of the best ways that you can get donors excited about texting to donate is to walk them through the process step-by-step, using:
- Social media posts, with images explaining each step.
- Live events, where you can demonstrate how it works on a platform.
- Informational posters and flyers that highlight individual steps.
The key is to make sure that donors are able to experience how quick and simple text giving is.
Promote Text-to-Give Across Channels
Promoting your text-to-give campaign across channels gets your message out effectively and efficiently. To do so, you can also employ more tangible marketing tactics, such as:
- Magazine or newspaper ads.
- Bus stop or park bench advertisements.
- Promotional T-shirts.
The point is to reach people in places where they’ll be carrying mobile devices.
Offer Several Options, Including Recurring Donations
With different giving amounts, you can encourage your donors to give as little or as much as they’d like (there are no donation caps), and you can provide the opportunity to become recurring donors.
In the end, recurring donors may give less each time they give, but ultimately, they donate significantly more over time.
Make sure that you not only offer recurring giving, but that you also make your options clear to all of your potential and present donors.
Remember: Always Thank Your Donors
Showing your appreciation by thanking your mobile donors is an important part of overall stewardship. Doing so increases the chances that you’ll retain them.
Even though text donations are typically smaller than the average donation, they’re still vitally important to your organization.
And you never know if a major donor is simply choosing to give a little on the go—but has the capacity to give so much more.
Integrating text-to-give with other fundraising methods
Encourage your donors to contribute to during an event. Have one of your speakers provide attendees with instructions on how they can text-to-donate.
Set up projectors with screenshots and instructions for the process. Hand out flyers and put up banners displaying your phone number and brief directions.
Use your direct mail materials to give detailed instructions about how supporters can text in their donations.
Use images and screenshots, and don’t forget to include your phone number! You can also get more creative by taking out adds in magazines and other mailed materials.
Most people access social media sites on their smartphones, making social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the perfect place to promote your text giving campaign.
Post regular updates about how followers can text-to-donate to your nonprofit. Don’t forget your nonprofit’s number as well as photos or videos that show donors how to give via text message!
Since your donors will be using their email accounts for part of the text-to-give donation process, it makes sense to use emails to get the word out about your text-to-give campaign.
Include images and detailed instructions. You also have the option to incorporate donation buttons into your email bodies to provide donors with yet another option for mobile giving!
Your donors will give you their contact information when they donate to your organization through a text-to-give campaign. This is a perfect time to send out an email about matching gifts.
Matching gifts are corporate philanthropy programs through which employers will match the donations their employees make to nonprofits, meaning higher fundraising amounts for you.
Send out targeted emails to your donors encouraging them to see if they are eligible for matching gifts in a database, such as that provided by Double the Donation!
Key Text-to-Give Considerations for Your Nonprofit
Who’s going to be in charge of taking in all of the new data?
Assign someone to take charge of the data, and put processes in place to account for common concerns, such as:
- What to do if new donor data differs from old data.
- The steps for consolidating duplicate information.
- The plan for data storage.
How will you deal with credit card information?
In some cases, it might be more convenient for you to consolidate payment processing by using the same platform you use to handle all of your other donation processing.
In other cases, it might make more sense to use a separate payment processing system.
Moving forward, how will you track performance to market smarter, not harder?
Study your performance data with an eye for trends and any detectable shifts away from those trends.
If, for instance, you note a surge in your text-to-give fundraising results, dig deeper to figure out what might have given your campaign a boost. The process will be similar if you notice a dip.
How can you tap into this information to improve the way your nonprofit operates?
You can also use text-giving frequency and average text donation size to help inform your future donation appeals and guide your segmentation strategy.
Part Three: Choosing a Text-to-Give Provider
Top Features to Look For In Text-to-Give Platforms
Without going into the technical jargon that this entails, Level 1 PCI-compliance guarantees the highest level of security on the market today.
Standards have changed, and text-to-give platforms now allow nonprofits to access funds within a couple of business days.
Generally, there is a support hotline that can be called during business hours, and there are online portals that accept questions and provide guidance the rest of the time.
There are definitely affordable options for nonprofit and faith-based organizations of all sizes.
Ease of Use
The fewer clicks between your donors and your organization, the more likely donors will be to give (and the more your nonprofit will receive!).
Be on the look-out for the companies that can offer this level of seamless integration.
Is Text-to-Give Software Safe?
Texting to give is absolutely safe for donors. With the top, industry-leading platform providers, there are several fail-safes in place to prevent identity theft and fraudulent purchases.
Some donors worry that texting to donate will link their credit card information to their mobile phone in a way that will leave them vulnerable to fraud.
The truth is: measures such as tokenization eliminate the possibility of any entity other than the intended payment processor getting ahold of donor information.
Text-to-give is just as safe as any other method of donating.
Text-to-donate technology is just as secure for nonprofits as it is for donors. Which is to say it is extremely secure.
2-factor authentication ensures that donors are who they say they are. You won’t have robots trying to spoof and spam your organization with false donations.
Sensitive donor data is also stored in highly secure facilities, so there’s no need to worry about anyone trying to hack into your organization’s donor information.
For nonprofits, text-to-give is one of the safest ways to raise money from donors on the move.
Frequently Asked Questions About Text-to-Give Tools
Is text-to-give only for large nonprofits?
Can text-to-give fit in with other fundraising efforts?
What types of donors use text-to-give?
Do mobile carriers take a percentage of the funds?
What is tokenization?
What is PCI-compliance?
Can mobile donors easily set up recurring donations?
Is mobile fundraising secure?
Is there a fee?
Are text-to-give donations tax deductible?
What information do nonprofits collect?
Will I be spammed with text messages and emails?
What types of payment methods are accepted?
Is my donation tacked onto my phone bill?
Snowball’s Text-to-Give Platform
What is Snowball’s solution for text-to-give?
Traditionally, if a donor wanted to give using their phone, they’d have to pull out their credit card, type in their information, and fill out a dozen or so “required fields.”
The founders of Snowball saw the need for a more simple solution to the problem of giving on the go. A solution that didn’t involve having a credit card handy 24/7.
Thus, their text giving platform allows donors to give wherever they are–with just a couple of clicks. One click to send a text with a donation amount, and the other click to confirm the payment.
Why is Snowball’s solution superior?
In order to text your nonprofit a donation, donors need only text the amount they’d like to give to your nonprofit’s mobile giving phone number.
They’ll then be sent a link, which will automatically draft an email. All they need to do to confirm their donation is to hit send.
If they’ve never given through Snowball’s mobile giving platform before, they’ll be asked to fill out some basic information.
But, unlike with most platforms, once donors have taken this step, they never have to re-enter their info—even if they’re donating through another online or mobile avenue.
Part Four: Text-to-Give Fast Facts
Text Giving and Mobile Fundraising Statistics
Common Myths about Text Giving Software
As you’ve been investigating text-to-donate software, you’ve likely encountered your fair share of rumors and misconceptions. Let’s set the record straight.
Myth #1: Your nonprofit needs to buy a $3,000 shortcode.
Truth: Shortcodes are no longer necessary, rendering the $3,000 myth moot. Instead of purchasing a shortcode, nonprofits can now buy a unique phone number for their campaigns that costs far less than $3,000.
Myth #2: Your nonprofit won’t see funds for 60+ days.
Truth: The wait time is significantly shorter. After only a couple of business days, nonprofits using next generation text-to-give providers can expect to have access to the donated funds.
Myth #3: Charitable donations are capped at $10.
Truth: Donation caps are a way of the past. Donors giving to organizations that use next-generation service providers can donate as much as they’d like.
Notable Text-to-Donate Campaigns
The Red Cross’s Haiti Earthquake Relief
For an overwhelming majority of people surveyed, the Haiti campaign was the first time they had ever used texting to donate to charity.
Although the campaign only lasted for a few months, it’s immense impact helped position text-to-give as not only a viable means of fundraising but a leading technique.
In total, the campaign raised $487.6 million.
Alicia Keys’s Campaign For Keep A Child Alive
Keep A Child Alive’s goal is to raise awareness of and work to eradicate the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and India.
Leveraging the access and exposure she has as an internationally acclaimed superstar, Alicia Keys asked all in attendance at her sold-out concerts to text in donations.
After only a few months, her text-to-give campaign raised $40,000.
The NFL & United Way Encourage Youth Fitness
Launched during Super Bowl XLII, the NFL’s and United Way’s text-to-give campaign was one of the first notable text giving efforts.
Using a 10-second commercial during football’s biggest game, quarterback Tom Brady encouraged viewers to text in donations to help the United Way fight childhood obesity.
On that night alone, the campaign raised $10,000.
What do the experts have to say about text giving?
John Killoran, CEO of Snowball
“Over 230 million people in the U.S. have the ability to donate by simply sending a text message, making text-to-give a powerful tool.”
Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation
“Text-to-give utilizes a form of technology that most donors use on a daily basis. It’s one of the most accessible donation channels!”
Lomesh Shah, CEO of Fundly
“Integrating text-to-give into your organization can allow donors to engage with your nonprofit from a place of familiarity.”