3 Myths and 3 Truths About Text Messaging for Nonprofits

Kevin D. Hendricks
Published on | 
October 4, 2023
3 Myths and 3 Truths About Text Messaging for Nonprofits

There are a lot of misconceptions about text messaging. The reality is it can be an extremely effective way to build relationships and connect with supporters. We believe it’s perfect for nonprofits.

But you need to understand the truths and the myths to see how a short message service (SMS) text marketing campaign can help your nonprofit organization.

3 Text Messaging Myths

First, let’s look at three myths about SMS text message marketing.

Myth #1: Text Messaging Is Intrusive

Illustration of a person being interrupted by multiple text messages.

The very nature of text messaging is that it’s easy, less formal, fun, and more relational than things like cold phone calls or emails. It’s conversational. That’s why messaging apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage are popular.

Of course if you do SMS marketing wrong it can be intrusive. If you spam people with bulk texts and don’t follow opt-in and consent rules, if you treat it like a marketing blast and not a relationship, then yeah, it’s going to go badly. (Nevermind the potential fallout of legal compliance issues.)

That’s why Rally’s approach to mass texting is human-centered. You want to grow relationships with your donors and supporters. Use language that’s compassionate, inviting, friendly, etc. Get permission to message people and respect opt-out requests.

The reality is you control the text message, so you can tailor the message and approach to make sure you’re not being intrusive. Here are three ways to do it:

  1. Segment: Send to a specific subset of your contact list so your message is as relevant as possible.
  2. Personalize: Customize your messages so they’re highly personal. This creates a better customer experience.
  3. Timely: Your marketing campaign needs to be timely. Send people the right information, when they need it, at the right time of day. That’s not an interruption, that’s helpful.

If your text message is relevant, personal, and immediate, it’s the opposite of intrusive.

Myth #2: Text Messaging Is Only Effective for Younger People

Illustration of young people sending text messages.

The kids get technology, so they’re the ones texting, right? Not so fast. Older people definitely text. They may be slower to adopt technology and not as adept, but baby boomers are the fastest growing group on Facebook. Because they’re eager to see pics of their grandkids (and at the same time making that particular social media platform decidedly uncool).

The reality is people like real-time communication that meets them where they are. For many people, that’s text messaging. They carry their cell phones everywhere, so it’s an always available medium.

Instead of writing off entire generations, use your customer relationship management (CRM) data and Rally Insights to target specific groups and adjust your message accordingly.

  • Style: Change the style of your message, using more or less formal grammar depending on the recipients.
  • Multimedia: Use more or less media, whether it’s emojis, GIFs, videos, or more.
  • Content: Different generations do want different things, so send accordingly.

Connect with young donors: It is important to begin engaging millennials and even younger generations as they will take over as the main donor base in the near future. Text messaging is essential to create long-term success and relationships for your nonprofits. 

Myth #3: Text Messaging Is a One-Way Channel

Illustration of a one-sided text message conversation.

When you think of business texting you probably think of notifications, alerts, or promotional/solicitation content where a response isn't typically required. Those are certainly one-way options, but you can also do two-way texting.

Text messaging should be a two-way communication channel, allowing both parties to send, receive, and engage in interactive conversations.

Think less solicitation and more communication and building relationships.

You should be able to reply: Some text messaging services don’t allow replies and force you into a one-way channel. Steer clear of them.

Replies help you grow your community: People will ask questions about where they can donate, how they can learn more about your nonprofit organization, when your next event is, or about the impact you are making in your community.

Relationships are build on conversation, so you need a text messaging tool that encourages interaction.

3 Text Messaging Truths

OK, now let’s switch gears and look at the reality of text messaging.

Truth #1: It’s Where People Are

Illustration of people on mobile devices.

Between mobile apps and messenger, people love their cell phones in ways they were never addicted to their landline:

  • 97% of American professionals are within 3 feet of their mobile devices 24 hours a day.
  • 89% check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up.
  • 75% take their devices to the bathroom, sometimes even falling asleep with them.

It’s why we encourage a mobile first strategy.

That means your nonprofit needs a text messaging platform. Figure out short code keywords and workflows, because this is where marketing is moving.

Truth #2: It’s Perfect for Events & Social Media

Illustration of people sending texts and interacting on social media on mobile devices.

Mobile is a way to supercharge events and social media. Here’s how other nonprofit organizations are using it:

Truth #3: Frankly… Email Sucks!

Illustration of emails going on the garbage.

Nonprofits are emailing more and bringing in less, according to the M+R Benchmarks Study.

  • Email revenue accounted for only 14% of online fundraising last year, falling 4%. 

Your constituents are drowning in email, and it’s simply losing its effectiveness. It’s time to embrace a functionality that simply works better:

  • Texting has an open rate of 98%. Email? 25%.
  • Texting has a response rate of 48%. Email? 2-4%.

If you’re ready to get better results, it’s time to hit the mark with text messaging.

Rally Is Here to Help

Hopefully you have a better understanding of the power of text messaging. If you still need help convincing nonprofit leaders, we’ve got a pre-written letter for leaders that can help.

We can help you implement a text messaging strategy. We’ve got FAQs, templates, and super helpful customer support. Whether you need to import a contact list or start collecting phone numbers, we’ve got tools to help. Get started today and we’re available to get on a voice call and talk pricing or any other questions you may have.

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