Text-to-Give: The Ultimate Guide

Text-to-Give
Create an excellent donor experience.
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Text-to-Give: The Ultimate Guide

What is Text-to-Give?

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.

Why is Text-to-Give Popular?

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.

What are Other Names for Text-to-Give?

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

How Does Text-to-Give Work?

For Nonprofits


  • 1. Pick a Provider

    Before you can start collecting text donations, you’ll need to choose a third-party provider or a text-to-give platform.

  • 2. Market Your Text-to-Give Campaign

    Your donors won’t be able to text their donations if you don’t let them know they can! Make sure you properly market your text-to-give campaigns.

  • 3. Properly Acknowledge Donations

    Donors should automatically receive a text message thanking them for their donation, but make sure that you properly follow up with donors after the fact.

For Donors


  • 1. Send a Text Message

    This message usually contains a specific keyword and a dollar amount.

  • 2. Access an Online Donation Page

    The donor then receives an acknowledgement text that contains a URL. This link takes the donor to a mobile-responsive donation form.

  • 3. Complete the Donation Process

    The donor will receive an acknowledgement text or email letting them know that their donation was received.

What Kinds of Organizations Use Text-to-Give?

Churches

Churches use text-to-give (sometimes called “text-to-tithe”) as a way to supplement or replace their traditional collection-plate fundraising methods.

Disaster Relief Organizations

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 & Cultural Organizations

Arts and cultural nonprofits use text-to-give during their events to encourage supporters to donate right then and there.

Environmental Nonprofits

Environmental organizations can use text-to-give to raise money and awareness for their particular causes.

Animal Nonprofits

Animal organizations can use text-to-give technology to raise money for their projects and initiatives. They can also promote it at events!

Educational Institutions

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

Snowball




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


OneCause offers a suite of mobile donation features for nonprofits, including text-to-donate.

OneCause offers a personal and direct opportunity to communicate with your donors and raise funds throughout the year, especially during fundraising events!


Handbid


Explore Handbid's text-to-give software.

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.


Text-to-Give Statistics

Donation
Amounts



$107

The average text-to-give donation is $107.

Smartphone
Owners



91%

91% of American adults own a smartphone.

Mobile Website
Visitors



51%

51% of people who visit nonprofit websites do so on a mobile device.

Text Message Response-Rate



99%

99% of text messages are read and responded to within 5 minutes of being received.

Sources: @Pay, Qgiv

Frequently Asked Questions about Text-to-Give

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.

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.

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.

Absolutely!

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.

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.

As with any donation to an eligible nonprofit, text-to-give contributions can be deducted on a donor’s tax returns.

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!

Yes, although the process will differ from provider to provider.

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.

Yes!

You can easily integrate text-to-give with your other fundraising channels, including:

  • Fundraising events
  • Email appeals
  • Social media appeals
  • Traditional communications
  • And more!

Any organization, large or small, can make use of text-to-give technology to raise more money from their donors.

Nonprofits can typically find out a donor’s:

  • Name
  • 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.

Charleston Shooting




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


Alicia Keys' "Keep a Child Alive" Text-to-Give 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


United Way & the NFL text-to-give campaign

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

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

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 Benefits

For Nonprofits

Quickly Raise Money & Awareness

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!

Easily Collect & Transfer Donor Data

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.

Reach out to Donors with Ease

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.

Integrate Other Fundraising Methods

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.

For Donors

Giving Quickly, Easily, & On-the-Go

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!

Using Familiar Technology

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!

Knowing That Their Information is Safe

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.

Connecting with a Nonprofit in a New Way

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!

Your organization needs to use text-to-give.

Text-to-Give Best Practices

A text-to-give best practice is to pick the right provider.

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.

A text-to-give best practice is to educate your donors.

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.

A text-to-give best practice is to properly promote text-to-give.

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.

A text-to-give best practice is to make it easy to set up recurring donations.

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

Integrate text-to-give into your fundraising events.

Events


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!

Integrate text-to-give into your direct mailings.

Direct Mail


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!

Integrate text-to-give into your emails.

Email


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!

Integrate text-to-give into your social media.

Social Media


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

Twitter



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!

Facebook



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!

Text-to-Give Promotion Example - Facebook

Instagram



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.

Text-to-Give Myths & Mistakes

Common Text-to-Give Campaign Mistakes

A major text-to-give mistake is forgetting to promote text-to-give to your donors.

#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!

Another text-to-give mistake is not offering recurring donations.

#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!

A common text-to-give mistake is failing to explain the text-to-give process.

#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:

  • Name
  • 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

  • Easy Set Up

    Text-to-give software shouldn’t be overly complicated or unnecessarily stressful for your nonprofit to set up.

    If you find that getting started is more trouble than it’s worth, you might want to consider another provider.

  • Reasonable Price

    Text-to-give software shouldn’t give you sticker shock. You should be able to find a provider that offers the features you want at a price point you’re comfortable with.

    If you don’t have the money in your budget for text-to-give software right now, plan ahead and start looking at what you’ll need to rearrange to make text-to-give fit into your fundraising strategies.

  • Comprehensive Support

    It should be easy to get in touch with a customer service representative or someone who can help your organization with any problems that might crop up.

    If you find that a text-to-give provider’s support isn’t living up to your standards, it might be time to look for a new service.

  • Integration Options

    Text-to-give software can’t stand on its own; it has to easily integrate with your other software solutions.

    Before buying, make sure that you inquire about the different integration options that the provider offers.

  • Scalable Model

    Your organization is likely going to grow in scope and size in the coming years. If your text-to-give provider can’t expand with your organization, you’ll have problems down the line.

    To resolve this eventual issue, make sure that you choose a provider that can scale with your organization as you grow. That way, you can always raise money from your donors via text message!

  • Assurance of Security

    Your donors’ security and privacy should be one of your top concerns when choosing a text-to-give provider. It’s crucial that supporters’ info is kept safe.

    If a company doesn’t boast PCI compliance, then they should be crossed off of your “potential providers” list.

Text-to-Give Considerations

Who Will Be In Charge?

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.

When Will You Promote Text-to-Give?

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.

How Will You Use Data You Receive?

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.

How Will You Retain Text Donors?

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

Text-to-give donors are no longer limited in their donation amounts.

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!

Send automatic thank yous to donors after they participate in text-to-give.

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.

Keep text-to-give donors on track with a live fundraising thermometer.

Fundraising Thermometers


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.

Set different keywords for different text-to-give campaigns.

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


Guide to mobile fundraising

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


How mobile giving can help you raise more

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.


Text-to-Give Tools


Best text-to-give tools

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!