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Text-to-give fundraising: An overview and 5 top tips

August 27, 2021
A donor sits with a laptop on one knee and a phone in hand to participate in text-to-give fundraising.

Online fundraising has become increasingly popular in recent years. After all, many nonprofit supporters spend a large portion of their time on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. To maximize your nonprofit organization's fundraising success, it’s essential to devise ways to meet supporters where they are.

Text-to-give is an effective online fundraising strategy that allows supporters to contribute from anywhere at any time. It’s easy for your nonprofit to set up and use as a year-round source of additional revenue. Let’s look at an overview of how this giving method works and how to make the most of text-to-give fundraising.

How does text-to-give fundraising work?

When discussing mobile giving, you’ll likely hear both the terms “text-to-give” and “text-to-donate.” In the past, there was a technical difference between these terms: a text-to-give fundraiser would bill donations to donors’ phone plans, while text-to-donate campaigns would direct supporters to the nonprofit’s online donation page. However, the terms are now used interchangeably and usually refer to the latter method of giving.

To get started with text-to-give fundraising, your organization will sign up with a mobile giving vendor. The vendor will typically assign you a 5-digit shortcode to which supporters can text a designated keyword. Then, the donor will receive an automatic reply with a link to your online donation page, which they can open and complete in their mobile device’s browser.

Text-to-give streamlines the donation process for supporters and allows you to bring in additional revenue to fund your cause year-round. Although most text-to-give contributions are small, these individual mobile donations add up over time to make a significant difference for your nonprofit.

5 text-to-give fundraising tips

To maximize your nonprofit’s text-to-give fundraising efforts, try these five standout tips.

1. Optimize your online donation page

Before you launch your text-to-give campaign, make sure your online donation page is optimized to accept the mobile donations you’ll receive. In particular, remember to:

  • Make the form mobile-friendly. Your donation page should automatically resize for different screen sizes and have buttons that are large enough for supporters to easily tap without accidentally clicking something else.
  • Offer suggested donation amounts. To help supporters visualize how their contributions will further your purpose, connect each suggestion to a concrete way your organization will use the funds. For example, an environmental nonprofit could list the number of trees each suggested amount allows them to plant.
  • Use a secure payment processor. Donors will feel more comfortable participating in mobile giving campaigns if they trust your nonprofit will keep their credit card and bank account information safe. Look for a PCI-compliant or PCI-certified payment processor to ensure security.

When you optimize your online donation page before launching text-to-give fundraising, you’ll ensure the form follows several of the best practices for donation page design. Doing so helps you bring in more online revenue overall as well as more funds specific to your text-to-give campaign.

2. Choose a relevant keyword

Creating a short, easy-to-type keyword (15 characters maximum with no spaces or punctuation) will make text-to-give fundraising as convenient as possible for your organization. To ensure supporters know how their contributions will be used, choose a keyword that relates to your nonprofit’s purpose or the fundraiser you’re hosting in combination with text-to-give.

For example, an animal shelter raising funds for rescue cats could use a keyword like “DONATE4CATS” for a general text-to-give campaign. If the organization were using text-to-give to bring in additional donations during a giving day campaign, they could create a keyword like “GIVINGDAYCATS” instead.

3. Promote text-to-give fundraising

Once your text-to-give fundraiser is up and running, you need to let your supporters know that the option is available. Leverage multiple communication channels to promote text-to-give, including:

In each of your marketing materials, start by announcing that supporters can donate to your organization through text-to-give, provide the shortcode and keyword, and conclude with a short explanation of the process. This way, donors who know how text-to-give works can go ahead and text the keyword to the shortcode, while those who aren’t familiar can read more before getting started.

4. Combine text-to-give with other fundraisers

While text-to-give fundraising can work well on its own, you’ll maximize its capabilities if you also use it as a method to collect additional donations during your nonprofit’s other fundraisers, such as:

  • Events. Display your shortcode and keyword in a noticeable place during auctions, galas, 5K races, walk-a-thons, and other fundraising events to supplement participation fees and other revenue earned from the event.
  • Giving campaigns. Include your shortcode in promotional materials for Giving Tuesday, your year-end fundraising push, and any other giving days your organization may host.
  • Matching gift drives. If your organization uses a corporate matching gift tool, ensure your text-to-give campaign donors know how to check their eligibility and submit match requests for their mobile donations by including that information in your text-to-give marketing materials.

Your supporters will likely access your promotional materials for each of these fundraisers on their mobile devices, whether they’re checking their email on a tablet or scrolling through social media on their smartphone. Having the ability to give immediately through these devices provides a natural next step. 

Also, supporters don’t have to remember to bring cash to put in a donation jar at events. Instead, they can easily make their additional contributions using their phones.

5. Recognize text-to-give campaign donors

As with other contributions to your organization, it’s important to show text-to-give donors that you value them as individuals rather than just sources of revenue. Once a donor gives, they should receive a donation confirmation message. Make sure your nonprofit also sends them a thank-you email that is personalized with their name and emphasizes how their mobile gift will help your cause.

If you use text-to-give as an additional fundraising method during an event or giving day, evaluate your mobile giving campaign’s success both on its own and as part of your overall fundraising total. In your thank-you messages to event participants or campaign donors, include data on how much of your total came from mobile giving. This way, you can encourage more participation in future text-to-give fundraising efforts.

Text-to-give fundraising: The bottom line

Text-to-give fundraising is a great way for your nonprofit to boost donations because of the convenience it provides to supporters. Whether you add a text-to-give option to your ongoing fundraising efforts or combine your campaign with another fundraiser, ensuring supporters are well-informed and feel valued will set you up for success.

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