Effective Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy: Send Text Messages Year-Round

Kevin D. Hendricks
Published on | 
August 9, 2023
Effective Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy: Send Text Messages Year-Round

Consistent communication can help your nonprofit organization boost donor engagement and mobile giving.

A lot of nonprofits rely on a single annual fundraiser. It’s such a focused effort that they ramp their communications up and down around that sole fundraising campaign. 

These nonprofits go quiet for much of the year. But that’s a bad idea. 

Supporters and donors want to hear from you year-round. Nonprofit communication needs to be always on.

In this post, we’ll cover how to connect with your supporters year-round and, as a result, boost volunteer engagement and mobile fundraising.

Too busy?: And yes, we get how busy nonprofit organizations are. Always-on communication sounds like a lot of work. No worries—we’ll streamline the mobile fundraising process and show you how to make it easy.

Nonprofits Need to Build a Donor Relationship

Before we get into the specifics, let’s talk about the fundraising strategy. Your fundraising goal needs to be more than increasing text-to-give dollars. Yes, every nonprofit organization wants to increase fundraising. 

But for long-term, effective fundraising, you need to build relationships not chase donations.

The rich uncle: A good relationship involves consistent communication. If you only talk to your rich uncle once a year when he sends that birthday check, it’s not a very deep relationship. There’s no personal connection. Your rich uncle probably starts to feel used, like you only care about the money. And he’s not wrong.

Don’t treat your supporters like a rich uncle. 

You need to nurture that donor relationship all year long. 

If the only time you reach out to your supporters is to ask for money, they’re going to feel like that rich uncle and stop giving. You won’t double potential donors with a once-a-year fundraising strategy. Nonprofit organizations need to build relationships. It’s part of every successful fundraising effort.

Major gifts? They rarely happen from a first-time ask, but with follow up.

So how do you nurture relationships? Consistent communication. You stay in touch. It’s a digital world so a phone call or in-person meeting isn’t necessary, but you do need to reach out.

Your supporters don’t want to be turned on and off. 

Nonprofit supporters and donors want a steady, consistent cadence of communication. Something reliable. Something they can look forward to.

If you turn your communication off, you’re looking at fewer donations. 

Fundraising Plan: Use Text Messaging for Ongoing Outreach

We’re big fans of nonprofit text messaging, so here’s a roadmap for how a nonprofit could use SMS to nurture a donor relationship and keep that outreach going. Instead of shutting down communication after your annual fundraiser, use text messaging to maintain that connection:

  • Thanks: Start with a simple text message to say thank you. Gratitude goes a long way.
  • Story: Share a story about the people you serve and how donations make a difference. Add a picture using multimedia messaging service (MMS) to take your text messaging to the next level.
  • Impact: Show results. Talk about the impact their support makes. Numbers can be a simple and powerful way to communicate the change your nonprofit is delivering.
  • Purpose: Reiterate your purpose. Why do you do what you do? It’s easy to think everybody knows this, but people are busy and forgetful and need that reminder. A text message is an easy way to reinforce your nonprofit mission.
Hand holding a cell phone with simple thank you text message with image: "Thanks for making the world better! Your donation is making a difference. Thank you."
A simple 'thank you' text message can go a long way.

Simple Fundraising Idea: Use Your List

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to donor engagement for nonprofits. You’re afraid to hit send because people might unsubscribe. 

But why collect contacts if you're not going to use them? 

It’s basic marketing strategy. Use your list to tell your story. Drive engagement all year long. Then when it’s time for your annual fundraising event or capital campaign, your supporters will be eager to give.

Here’s why it’s smarter to use your list:

  • Investment: You invest in fundraising tools because they pay for themselves. Year-round communication means more opportunities for those text-to-give appeals to pay off.
  • Relationships: We already covered the value of nurturing relationships and that only happens when you communicate. So send that text message!
  • Control: Social media is changing so fast, nobody knows what social media platforms will be here next year. But you own your list.
  • Effectiveness: Lists work better when they’re used. It’s easy to get flagged as spam if you only send text messages rarely. You’ll find fundraising success with more consistent communication.

If you tell your story all year long, donors will be much more likely to pitch in.

Fundraising strategy: One approach to nonprofit fundraising is not to do fundraising. Instead of putting your hand out and asking for money all the time, you tell your story and talk about the work you’re doing. You build a relationship with supporters. As they become invested in your cause, they ask you how they can help.

Example: HEADstrong Foundation uses text messages as a reminder. And they get a thank you in response: “That’s all I wanted to do,” said Jeff Baxter, their vice president of community engagement. “I wanted to shake somebody loose who wants to get involved.”

7 Fundraising Tips to Make Year-Round Text Messages Manageable

A lot of nonprofits do that once-per-year fundraising campaign because it’s all they can manage. We get it. They send out communication as they gear up for the fundraising event, then shut it off when it’s done.

If a single annual fundraiser works for your nonprofit, whether because that’s your fundraising strategy or that’s all you can handle, go for it. Just find ways to communicate year-round.

Here are a few tips to make it more manageable to send those text messages all year:

  1. Timely: If a weekly or monthly text message sounds impossible, try quarterly. Just be consistent. Pick a realistic time frame you can actually deliver on. You’ll boost donor retention.
  2. Templates: It’s a lot easier to crank out regular communication when someone else writes it for you. At Rally, we have 125 pre-written text message templates built into the platform to make it easier.
  3. Pattern: Make your own text message template by creating a pattern you can replicate each time. Come up with a format for sharing volunteer opportunities so it’s faster each time. Use a consistent format for sharing stories or stats so you spend less time writing. 
  4. Simple: Keep it simple. The beauty of text messaging is that it’s a short medium. It’s a basic but effective benchmark.
  5. Use what you have: If your nonprofit organization has access to a lot of good photos, use them. Send a weekly photo feature to highlight your work. If your social media posts get lots of good comments, pull excerpts and feature them to drive online donations.
  6. Batch: Don’t wait for the deadline to write your text messages—and then panic. Write all these communications at once. If you’re sharing an impact story every time, sit down and write them for the whole year at once.
  7. Segment: Narrow your focus with prospect research. Look at donor data or use Rally Insights. Send one message to new supporters, another to existing donors, and a different one to major donors. Reach out to staff members and board members as well—you never know when peer fundraising, matching gifts, or corporate partnerships will happen.

However you communicate, whether it’s via text messages, email, social media, direct mail, carrier pigeon, or a combination, it needs to be always on. Communicate year round for better donor stewardship.

Figure out the communication cadence and strategic plan that works for you, and run with it.

Rally Can Help Your Fundraising Activities

We can help. We get workflows and donor follow up. We also get that you have metrics to meet and fundraising goals to shatter. Plus you’re a little busy. You need an achievable strategy. 

It’s all about implementation. We’ve got the functionality you need to convert potential supporters into new donors.

You can get started with Rally today.

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