GuideStar Blog

Text-to-Give Fundraising: 5 Best Practices


The end of the year is fast-approaching. And you know what that means...

It’s prime fundraising season!

Right now, it’s more important than ever for your organization to prepare every tool you have in your fundraising tool belt. You should be optimizing all of your fundraising channels to achieve maximum donation potential.

While we’d love to cover all of the fundraising channels at your disposal, in this article, we’ll focus specifically on text-to-give.

Here we’ll discuss some text-to-give best practices that can set you up for fundraising success this giving season, including:

  1. Educate your donors on text-to-give.
  2. Make it easy to set up recurring giving.
  3. Promote text-to-give across all outreach channels.
  4. Use text-to-give for #GivingTuesday!
  5. Say thank you.
Let’s dive right in!

1. Educate your donors on text-to-give.

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While more and more nonprofits and churches are turning to text-to-give as a way to collect donations, it’s still one of the newest fundraising methods around.

Chances are, many of your donors have never used text-to-give and aren’t familiar with how to donate through this channel. Some donors might have never heard of it!

To eliminate any possible uncertainty, your organization should take the time to educate your donors on how to submit donations through text-to-give.

You can teach your donors in all sorts of ways. For example, you could send out an email or a letter that walks donors step-by-step through text giving and includes photo examples of each step.

Or, even better, you could make a live appeal at a fundraising event and walk donors through how to use it in person. After all, there’s no better way to learn something new than to try it for yourself!

Considering that you’ll consistently acquire new donors and you’ll be approaching donors through different communication channels, you’ll likely have to explain text-to-give more than once.

In fact, it can’t hurt to give a brief explanation any time that your organization makes a donation request and highlights text giving as an option.

Obviously, explaining text-to-give is important, because donors won’t be able to use this giving method if they don’t understand how!

Educating your donors makes the text giving process crystal clear, resulting in significantly more mobile donations for your organization.

Bottom line: Text-to-give is a relatively new fundraising method, so it’s important to explain it to your donors to see the most donations through this channel.

2. Make it easy to set up recurring giving.

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What’s better than a donor giving once? That same donor giving again. And again. And again.

Recurring donors couldn’t be more valuable for your nonprofit. Although they might give less each time they make a gift, they give much more over time than one-time donors.

However, turning one-time donors into recurring givers takes a little bit of work on your nonprofit’s end.

Some donors aren’t aware of the option to set up recurring giving. Those who are aware might not know how it’s done. And even for those donors who do know how to get started with recurring giving, a long or difficult process can definitely deter them from doing so.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to inform donors about recurring giving and get them set up with this option through text-to-give.

To tell you how, first it will be helpful to take the previous point’s advice and explain how exactly text-to-give works.

Assuming your organization has already found a provider and gotten set up with your own unique phone number, here’s what the process will look like:

  • The donor texts. The donor will initiate the donation transaction by texting their gift amount to your nonprofit’s phone number.
  • The link is sent. The donor will instantly receive a confirmation text with a link that leads them to a pre-written email.
  • The donor confirms the donation. The confirmation process will look a little different depending on whether or not this is a donor’s first text giving transaction. Donors who have used the service before can simply send the pre-written email as confirmation of their donation. First-time text-to-give donors will be sent to a simple mobile-responsive donation form that they have to fill out to get set up.

The last step is where your organization will have opportunity to let donors know about recurring giving and to get them set up.

All it takes is including recurring giving as an option on your online donation form. Most text-to-give platforms will allow your nonprofit to do so with ease.

When recurring giving is as convenient as simply clicking a button, many more donors will be inclined to become recurring givers themselves!

To make this simple strategy even more effective, your organization should try to equate recurring gifts with concrete results. Although it can be difficult to predict exactly what future contributions will go toward, you can make donations more tangible by letting donors know how much more of an impact they could make through recurring giving than by giving just once.

Donors want to know how their contributions will help, and when they can clearly visualize that, they’ll be more likely to support you.

Bottom line: Including a recurring giving option on your text-to-give donation page makes recurring giving easy and, thus, results in a higher volume of recurring donors.

3. Promote text-to-give across all outreach channels.

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Any giving channel, especially one as new as text-to-give, needs plenty of promotion to see success. If your donors don’t even realize they have the option to give over text, they certainly aren’t going to do so.

That’s why your organization should be promoting text-to-give across all of your outreach channels!

That includes not only digital channels, but offline channels as well.

The importance of taking a multichannel approach to your communications can’t be emphasized enough.

All of your different outreach channels have one main purpose: to help you work towards your fundraising goals. It only makes sense that they should all be interconnected.

To illustrate this point, let’s take an example.

Say that one of your donors (we’ll call her Debbie) loves receiving letters from your nonprofit in the mail. Debbie Donor enjoys the personal and thoughtful touch.

Knowing this about Debbie Donor, you make your next donation request through direct mail. But your organization just recently implemented text-to-give and forgot to mention it in your letter.

Reading your correspondence, Debbie assumes that the only way to follow up is by using the same medium and mailing you a check. But between a full time job, taking care of the kids, and a million other goings-on, finding the time to buy stamps, write a check, and mail it is an inconvenience. Debbie never submits her gift.

However, Debbie is always using her smartphone. If she knew that she could submit a donation anytime right from her phone, she certainly would have followed through!

Point being, providing donors with multiple ways to give will result in more donations, because it allows them to choose which method is most convenient and intuitive to them.

If you don’t promote text-to-give in all of your outreach, you could be missing out on plenty of donations!

Bottom line: Including text-to-give in all of your online and offline outreach gives donors the power to choose, which leads to more donations.

4. Use text-to-give for #GivingTuesday!

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Since the end of year fundraising season is coming up, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention #GivingTuesday at least once.

For those of you unfamiliar with #GivingTuesday, it’s a national giving day that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

In order to get guests back into the giving spirit after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, nonprofits around the country request that their donors help them meet a fundraising goal in 24 hours, with most of the action taking place over social media.

#GivingTuesday is a growing trend in fundraising that’s only getting bigger. Its urgent and competitive nature can help your organization raise a lot of funds quickly.

So where does mobile come in?

Mobile and social media are inextricably tied. About 65% of social media users browse social media sites solely from their mobile devices.

That being the case, since #GivingTuesday will take place almost entirely over social media, text giving is the perfect method for accepting donations!

To get started with your #GivingTuesday campaign, your organization will want to register as an official #GivingTuesday partner. Information about your organization and how to give will be listed in website’s online directory.

Aside from that, all this strategy takes is a definitive fundraising goal and lots of promotion. You’ll want to spread the word as far and wide as possible to see the most success.

Make sure to include information both about your #GivingTuesday campaign and text-to-give, especially on your website and in other digital correspondence leading up to the event.

The takeaway: The format of #GivingTuesday is well suited to text giving and will help your organization amplify your fundraising!

Bonus: Check out Guidestar’s list for some unique #GivingTuesday ideas!

5. Say thank you.

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While saying thanks is nothing unique to text-to-give, it’s a critical part of any nonprofit’s stewardship and fundraising strategy.

Displaying your gratitude lets your donors know that you appreciate their contributions. They’ll feel valued and they’ll be able to relate more personally to your organization, both of which lead to higher donor retention rates.

We already talked about how valuable recurring givers are, so you can see just how important saying thanks really is!

Your thank-you should also include a donation receipt. Receipts are often required by law, but even if they’re not, it’s still best practice to send them out so donors can be certain that you received their gifts.

Luckily, following up with your donors through text-to-give is relatively easy. Many services will allow you to automate donation receipts and thank you letters.

However, you should still follow up by sending your donors a more personalized thank you note. These follow-ups should be sent out no later than 48 hours after the donor has made a gift.

The takeaway: Saying thanks after a donor has made a text-to-give contribution will help you grow your base of recurring givers.

Bonus: Check out this helpful resource from Qgiv to learn about more acknowledgement best practices.

Well, there you have it! We hope that our article has helped your organization hone your text-to-give strategies, so you can win more mobile donations this giving season.

For more on text-to-give, check out @Pay’s website.

John-Killoran-atpay-888x1024_1.jpgJohn Killoran is CEO of @Pay, a new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to donate in two clicks from text, email, web and social media sites.  John pioneered SMTP payments and has been a major innovator in the mobile payments space for the past 5 years.

Topics: Fundraising Giving season Communications Giving Tuesday mobile fundraising