Text-to-give is a new fundraising technique that allows donors to give to nonprofits with their cell phones. Supporters can text a keyword and donation amount to a nonprofit’s predetermined number to give to the annual fund or to a specific campaign.
Text-to-give utilizes a form of technology that most donors use on a daily basis. Since texting has now become the preferred mode of communication among donors of all ages, it makes perfect sense to incorporate text-to-give into your fundraising strategy.
Text-to-give can go by many other names. Sometimes, nonprofits will call it “text giving” while others will simply call it “mobile giving.” Text-to-give methods can also vary. For instance, if donors make mobile pledges, it’s called “text-to-pledge.”
The Basics & Benefits of Text-to-Give
What Kinds of Organizations Use Text-to-Give?
Churches use text-to-give (sometimes called “text-to-tithe”) as a way to supplement or replace their traditional collection-plate fundraising methods.
Organizations that offer disaster relief to people and communities who need immediate help must raise a large amount of money in a short amount of time. Enter text-to-give!
Arts and cultural nonprofits use text-to-give during their events to encourage supporters to donate right then and there.
Environmental organizations can use text-to-give to raise money and awareness for their particular causes.
Animal organizations can use text-to-give technology to raise money for their projects and initiatives. They can also promote it at events!
Private and public schools alike can use text-to-give for their various fundraisers. It’s a great option for colleges and universities, too!
Best Text-to-Give Services
With Snowball’s intuitive Text-to-give platform, it’s incredibly easy for donors to give any time and from anywhere. Unlike with other services, Snowball’s platform makes it easy for donors to complete repeat and recurring donations without having to re-enter their card information.
OneCause offers a personal and direct opportunity to communicate with your donors and raise funds throughout the year, especially during fundraising events!
Handbid’s text-to-give tool can be thought of as a comprehensive “text-to-engage” solution, allowing nonprofits to send custom texts to their supporters encouraging them to donate, register for events, and more.
The average text-to-give donation is $107.
91% of American adults own a smartphone.
51% of people who visit nonprofit websites do so on a mobile device.
Text Message Response-Rate
99% of text messages are read and responded to within 5 minutes of being received.
Frequently Asked Questions about Text-to-Give
Is text-to-give secure?
Third-party providers must maintain compliance with standards outlined by the Payment Card Industry (PCI Compliance).
Additionally, some text-to-give providers implement other security measures to keep your donors’ information safe.
A common security measure is using email authentication. Instead of having donors create an account with insecure passwords, your supporters can confirm their gifts via email. The extra measure deters fraudulent charges and keeps your donors’ accounts protected.
Is there a fee for donors who use text-to-give?
Standard messaging and data rates apply when donors use text-to-give.
Neither a nonprofit nor a text-to-give provider will charge donors for using the service.
What types of payments does text-to-give accept?
Most text-to-give providers will accept traditional payment methods including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
Other, more traditional carriers will simply tack on the donation amount ($5 or $10) to the donor’s phone bill.
However, more and more text-to-give providers are moving away from this method and toward a credit-card based system.
Do people actually use text-to-give?
Since nearly 90% of American adults own a cellphone, it makes perfect sense that they would use those devices to text their donations to a nonprofit.
Who uses text-to-give?
The short answer is, everyone.
But, the most common demographic for text givers is 49 to 59 year-old women who are married and have a college degree.
Are text-to-give donations tax deductible?
As with any donation to an eligible nonprofit, text-to-give contributions can be deducted on a donor’s tax returns.
Is there a cap on donation amounts?
In the past, text-to-give providers would cap donations at $5 or $10.
But these days, most providers don’t have a limit on the amount a donor can give via text message!
Can donors set up recurring donations via text-to-give?
Yes, although the process will differ from provider to provider.
Are keywords important?
Keywords are crucial during the text-to-give donation process, especially if your donors want to give to different campaigns and not just your annual fund.
Without a keyword, a donor cannot complete the text-to-give process.
Some providers will send a text back to donors, prompting them to insert a keyword.
Can text-to-give fit in with other fundraising efforts?
You can easily integrate text-to-give with your other fundraising channels, including:
- Fundraising events
- Email appeals
- Social media appeals
- Traditional communications
- And more!
Is text-to-give only for large nonprofits?
Any organization, large or small, can make use of text-to-give technology to raise more money from their donors.
What info do nonprofits collect?
Nonprofits can typically find out a donor’s:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Billing address
This information is used to follow up with and thank the donor for their contribution.
Sample Text-to-Give Campaigns
2010 Haiti Earthquake
Perhaps the most notable text-to-give campaign, the American Red Cross’s text-to-donate campaign raised over $21 million in disaster relief funds.
The Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, established by Charleston after a church shooting, has raised nearly $150,000 to date.
Australian Cancer Research
Mater Prize Homes in Australia passed out fortune cookies with text-to-give instructions at a soccer match. Over 2,000 fans donated to support cancer research.
2011 New Zealand Earthquake
After an earthquake hit New Zealand in 2011, Vodafone customers donated nearly $700,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross’s relief efforts.
“Keep a Child Alive” Campaign
During her sold-out concerts, Alicia Keys would encourage attendees to text-to-donate to the Keep a Child Alive Foundation.
United Way & the NFL
Using a 10 second TV spot, NFL star, Tom Brady encouraged viewers to donate via text to United Way to help decrease childhood obesity.
Text-to-Give & Text-to-Pledge: What’s the Difference?
Text-to-give is an instant process. Donors text a keyword and an amount to a nonprofit’s number. They are then sent an acknowledgement text that links to an online donation form, and the contribution is processed right then and there.
Text-to-pledge, while similar, is slightly different than text-to-give. Instead of donors giving money as soon as they send a message, they text their pledge to give at a later date. The nonprofit (or third-party provider) then follows up with the donor until the pledge is fulfilled.
Text-to-give is a great way to quickly raise funds for your organization and to spread the word about your cause and mission.
Because most donors are already on their phones all the time, it’s even easier to raise money and awareness with text-to-give!
Text-to-give allows your nonprofit to gather different types of information like donors’ names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
You can then use this information in conjunction with other data in your database to tailor your communications to donors and volunteers.
Text-to-give helps your nonprofit get in touch with donors with a few clicks.
It’s easy to remind them of events, ask for donations, and encourage other engagement opportunities.
You can use text-to-give with your existing fundraising methods for the best success!
It’s easy to incorporate into fundraising events, email appeals, and even direct mail letters and cards.
With text-to-give, donors can support a nonprofit organization anywhere, anytime.
No more waiting days or even weeks for a check to get to a nonprofit. Text-to-give is instant donating!
Donors are already texting their friends and family members nearly every day.
Text-to-give makes use of an existing technology that donors are extremely familiar with, making giving easy!
Text-to-give providers must adhere to PCI standards, keeping donor data safe and secure.
Supporters can give with peace of mind knowing that their credit card and personal information won’t be compromised.
Texting creates a new way for donors and nonprofits to stay in touch with one another.
Additionally, text-to-give strengthens the donor/nonprofit relationship due to its more personal and casual nature.
Launching a Text-to-Give Campaign
Why Your Organization Needs Text-to-Give
As our world becomes increasingly technologically advanced, nonprofits owe it to themselves (and their donors!) to offer the most innovative and pioneering donation services available.
Right now, text-to-give is one of the easiest and most efficient ways for donors to give to an organization.
It’s also the perfect way for millennials and younger generations to give to their favorite nonprofits and causes. While baby boomers are currently the leading charitable giving demographic, the younger generations are primed to take over within a few years.
With text-to-give, this philanthropic demographic can easily donate to the projects and missions that they care about.
If your nonprofit wants to keep up with upcoming giving trends, you should invest in text-to-give software!
Text-to-Give Best Practices
Pick the Right Provider
There are numerous text-to-give providers out there. Some process donations with the help of the Mobile Giving Foundation and can only process $5 or $10 donations.
Others have set up their own platforms that don’t rely on the Mobile Giving Foundation, giving your organization the freedom to accept donations of any amount.
Educate Your Donors
Not all of your donors will immediately know how to use your text-to-give software. If you want them to support you via text, then you have to instruct them on how to do so!
Provide clear instructions in direct mail, on social media, and within your email updates so that donors can easily give to your organization via text over and over again.
Properly Promote Text-to-Give
Just like you would promote your online donation page to your donors, you should advertise the fact that donors can easily and quickly text to donate to your organization.
The most efficient promotion channels are digital ones like social media and email, but direct mail recipients use text-to-give software too! Don’t dismiss traditional marketing techniques like direct mail and public advertisements like billboards and flyers.
Make it Easy to Set Up Recurring Donations
Donor retention is one of the most important metrics that nonprofits can focus on. Offering a recurring donation option for text-to-give supporters can help boost those numbers.
Not only do recurring donations help increase your donor retention rates, but they also make it easy for supporters to give on a regular basis. With recurring text donations, supporters don’t have to remember to give; the software deducts the amount automatically.
Integrating Text-to-Give With Other Fundraising Strategies
Fundraising events are the perfect place to let your donors know about text-to-give opportunities.
You have a captive audience (check!).
You have an inspirational speaker (check!).
All you need to do is make sure that you explain how donors can use text-to-give.
You can even ask your attendees to text in their donations right then and there!
Takeaway: Take advantage of a captive audience and promote your text-to-give campaign at your next event!
You might not immediately pair text-to-give campaigns and direct mail together, but they actually have more in common than you think!
Your direct mail letters, pamphlets, and cards are full of helpful information about your organization and how people can get involved.
Start including text-to-give instructions somewhere in these materials!
Prominently display your nonprofit’s text-to-give number, your keyword, and some simple instructions.
Soon you’ll be receiving text donations from your direct mail recipients!
Takeaway: People who like getting direct mail are still willing to text-to-give to your organization. Include text-to-give instructions within your direct mail materials!
Email is one of the most universal communication methods these days. Nearly everyone has at least one email address, and some have even more!
Therefore, it makes sense for nonprofits to promote their text-to-give campaigns via email!
Just make sure that your emails are mobile-responsive.
It doesn’t make much sense to push a text-to-give campaign if donors are unable to read the email you sent to their mobile device!
Include clear instructions so that donors can easily donate to your cause.
Takeaway: Most people check their email on the phone. Use your emails wisely and start promoting your text-to-give campaign!
Most people are on at least one social media site. Is your nonprofit getting your text-to-give campaign in their newsfeeds?
Many of your donors are accessing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on their cellphones anyway.
If you place info about text-to-give opportunities on your social media accounts, there is a high likelihood that your followers may text a donation to your nonprofit right then and there!
Takeaway: Social media is the perfect platform for getting the word out about your text-to-give campaign.
Text-to-Give and Recurring Donations
Donor retention is a much easier and more cost-effective endeavor than donor acquisition.
But how can you pair donor retention and text-to-give technology?
Simple: you just have to make sure that your mobile-responsive donation page includes a “recurring donations” options.
By offering donors the chance to make a donation once a month, quarter, or year, you automatically retain that donor (at least for the time being!).
The other half of the donor retention equation is keeping in touch with donors regularly and in different ways.
When you offer recurring donations as an option for your text-to-give donors, you can help guarantee that they’ll donate again in the future.
Expert Advice for Text-to-Give Campaigns
A text donation is acquiring a donor; it’s really not about the donation. A $10 gift is interesting, but if you teach that person to love you, they’re more inclined to give you future gifts.
Text-to-give technology takes many shapes. Getting started with a technology provider that fits your nonprofit’s needs is the most important step. The rest should be fairly simple.
Make it simple for your donors to engage using Handbid’s text-to-give solution. Users send a keyword to a short code and Handbid will reply with a message you can customize that includes a link to register, buy tickets, donate, or bid.
Promoting Text-to-Give on Social Media
You only have 140 characters to work with on Twitter, so promoting your text-to-give campaign might be slightly tricky.
Include images that capture followers’ attentions and give them instructions on how to text-to-give.
You can also create a corresponding hashtag that donors can use in their own tweets after they’ve donated.
This particular nonprofit uses Twitter to get the word out about their “largest food drive of the year.”
This organization also stays under the 140 character limit by succinctly instructing donors to text their donations to the right phone number. They also briefly mention the fact that they have a matching donor who will double all donations made to the nonprofit for this particular campaign.
If you need to get a quick message out about your text-to-give campaign, consider using Twitter!
When promoting your text-to-give campaign on Facebook, include brief instructions that followers can easily use to donate to your cause.
It also helps to link out to your website and include a short description of the campaign that you are promoting.
You can also include images and hashtags to encourage others to share the post with their own networks.
This church has created an appealing graphic that has instructions for texting to donate.
The status itself is short and to the point, and when clicked, the image takes followers to a blog post that describes the church’s text-to-give process.
If you want to give your donors more text-to-give information and instructions, use Facebook to direct them to your blog or website. Don’t forget the hashtag!
As an image-based site, Instagram is perfect for posting informational pictures or inspirational photos that will motivate followers to give.
You can also include instructions on how to text-to-give in the description of your post.
Use hashtags and tag some of your most loyal supporters to encourage followers to text-to-give.
This example includes three easy steps for their text-to-give process and includes three hashtags that followers can use in their own Instagram posts.
The image itself very clearly describes the text-to-give process and shows donors what the text-to-give process would look like on their smartphones.
Try using Instagram as a way to promote your upcoming text-to-give campaign.
Did you know generosity is at your finger tips? We’ve made it easy for you to sow your seeds into this ministry, into your life, & into your BANNER YEAR! #TextToGive is so easy anyone can do it: 1) Text the number 45777 with the amount followed by the word FAITH 2) follow the link it sends you, follow steps and input info 3) you’re done! THANK YOU, for using what is in your hand to do what’s on God’s heart! #Generosity #LetsBeGenerous
Text-to-Give Myths & Mistakes
Common Text-to-Give Campaign Mistakes
#1) Not Promoting Your Text-to-Give Campaign
Donors won’t be able to send in their donations if you don’t let them know that they can!
Effectively promote your text-to-give campaign by:
- Sending out emails.
- Talking it up during your events.
- Including instructions in your direct mail materials.
- Promoting it on social media.
- Mentioning it during your in-person meetings.
- And more!
By getting the word out about text-to-give, you increase the chances that donors will use the technology to donate to your organization!
#2) Not Offering Recurring Donations
Since text-to-give is so easy, most nonprofits overlook this crucial component.
But including a recurring donation option within your text-to-give campaign makes giving a second time easy as 1, 2, 3!
All you’ll need to do is make sure that recurring donations are featured on the online donation form that supporters use to complete their contribution.
Then, when they make a donation a second, third, or hundredth time, their information will already be stored.
All they need to do is text an amount to your nonprofit’s number to give!
#3) Failing to Explain Text-to-Give
Some of your donors will immediately understand how to use their mobile devices to donate to your organization.
Others may need a little guidance.
It’s your nonprofit’s job to explain text-to-give and encourage your less-than-tech-savvy donors to use it to give to your organization!
Include text-to-give instructions:
- On your website.
- Within your direct mail.
- In your email blasts.
- In a social media post.
#4) Forgetting an Acknowledgement
Giving is only half of the text-to-give process.
Your nonprofit has to remember to properly acknowledge donors’ contributions!
Even if the text-to-give platform you select generates automated acknowledgement texts, you still need to send donors an additional thank you.
This can take the form of emails, letters, or even a quick phone call!
Text-to-Give Myths: Busted!
Myth #1: You can only capture a donor’s phone number.
With text-to-give, your organization is able to gather a donor’s:
- Mobile phone number
- Email address
- Billing address
- Additional, custom information
You can determine what other information to capture based on your organization’s needs.
Just remember to keep required fields to a minimum.
Myth #2: No one uses text-to-give.
Even though text-to-give is a new and budding technology, that doesn’t mean that it’s not being utilized.
In fact, many donors say that they would actually prefer to use text-to-give in the future!
And if you think that only young donors are the ones using text-to-give, you might want to think again.
Most text-to-give users are 49- to 59- year old, married women who have college degrees.
Myth #3: Text-to-give is only for big organizations.
Even small, local nonprofits can get on the text-to-give train!
In fact, text-to-give can help these smaller organizations receive donations from supporters who don’t live in the immediate vicinity.
Text-to-give is just another way for small and mid-sized nonprofits to raise money across the country and around the world.
Myth #4: Text-to-give is complicated.
Text-to-give is actually surprisingly easy to use!
Since most of your donors are already using text messages to get in touch with family members and friends, it’s already a technology they’re familiar with.
You will probably still need to explain the ins and outs of your specific text-to-give platform.
Once donors have the process down, they’ll be able to donate via text whenever they want!
Shopping for Text-to-Give Software
Features to Look for in a Great Text-to-Give Provider
As with any fundraising effort, your organization will need a point person to head up your text-to-give efforts.
This person will likely also need a team to back them up and help them make software-, marketing-, and data-related decisions.
Do you want donors to text-to-give year-round, or will you only use it during special campaigns and events?
Whichever route you take, you’ll need to make sure that you properly promote your text-to-give option to the right donors at the right time.
With text-to-give, your organization can gather all types of donor information including, but not limited to, names, phone numbers, email addresses, and giving histories.
Since you’ll have an influx of data, you’ll have to decide how you’re going to use that information. Obviously, it should be used to flesh out your donor profiles, but it can also be used to establish new connections and develop existing relationships even further.
Average donor retention rates aren’t doing so great these days. You don’t want to make things worse by implementing a fundraising method that donors don’t want to use.
Make sure that you properly explain the donor benefits of using text-to-give software to donate to a nonprofit. Once donors see how easy it is to support an organization via text message, they’ll be more likely to use the software over and over again.
4 Little-Known Text-to-Give Features
No Cap on Donation Amounts
Unless you’re working with a Mobile Giving Foundation provider, donors are no longer limited to $5 or $10 contributions. They can give as much as they want!
Automatic Thank-You Emails
After a donor texts in a donation, they will be sent an automatic thank-you text and acknowledgement email that includes a donation receipt.
If you’re using text-to-give for a specific campaign, you can use a fundraising thermometer to gauge your progress and encourage others to donate via text.
Different Keywords for Different Campaigns
Enable donors to give to their preferred cause or project by using different keywords for each campaign. Raise money for any (or all!) of your nonprofit’s campaigns.
Additional Text-to-Give Resources
Guide to Mobile Giving
Take a look at the guide to mobile giving to learn how organizations use mobile fundraising, how it can be incorporated into your existing fundraising techniques, and why it works so well.
Impact of Mobile Giving
Mobile giving (and text-to-give in particular) has been sweeping the nonprofit world by storm. Check out 10 ways you can use it to raise more money for your nonprofit’s mission.
If you plan on encouraging donors to use text-to-give software, you’ll need a great software provider. We’ve listed out our thirteen favorites. Take a look and tell us what you think!