How Texting Can Boost Your Next Fundraising Event

Kevin D. Hendricks
How Texting Can Boost Your Next Fundraising Event

That mobile device everyone has in their pocket is changing everything these days, including your nonprofit fundraising event. But rather than a distraction, those mobile phones can supercharge donations and engagement for your nonprofit—making for a mobile fundraising success.

It’s all a matter of creating a mobile marketing strategy and thinking boldly about how to harness the advantages of SMS.

More than just another marketing channel, text messaging and mobile in general can change how you do fundraising events.

You can engage people before, during, and after your fundraising campaign with text messaging:

  • Before: People are busy and forgetful, so use texting to send a reminder link to your donation form.
  • During: Keep the flow going with updates and reminders—silent auction, dessert, a session they won’t want to miss.
  • After: Send a link to a video showing the impact made possible with their support.

Let’s take a closer look at the many ways you can implement mobile marketing before, during, and after your event.

Before Your Event

There are a lot of ways to engage people before your fundraising event even starts.

Mobile Fundraising Starts With You

You want people to mash that donation button, but that means having a solid mobile-friendly donation page. This will help your mobile fundraising for events, but also boost your online giving in general.

  • Make sure your online donation form is user friendly and mobile ready. Test it out.
  • Make sure any integrations with your mobile giving platform are working correctly.
  • Always test your fundraising tools. (Did we repeat that? Sorry, that’s how important it is to online fundraising.)

Get People to Register

It starts with promoting your event and getting people to register in the first place.

  • Marketing: As with any fundraising campaign, you’ll need to use your full arsenal to break through and engage. Open rates are low. Remember: You have to reach people multiple times to get through. So you need a multi-channel approach. Email marketing, social media sites, and direct mail sure, but text messaging should be one of those channels.
  • Past attendees: The low-hanging fruit for any event is people who attended previous events. They already know who you are, they know the event, hopefully they want to come back. A simple targeted reminder via text message is a great way to bring these people in.
  • Make it personal: It’s so hard to connect these days, so make sure you’re being personal. Drill down to why this fundraising campaign matters. What difference does it make? Not on your bottom line, but in the lives of the people you serve.
  • Share: Encourage people to mine their social network and invite their friends. A viral loop can be an easy way for your supporters to spread the word. Peer fundraising is great way to bring in new donors and encourage recurring donations.
  • Offer value: Why should people attend your fundraising event? Focus on what you actually deliver. What kind of giving experience can you create? Is it an artistic program or athletic event they’ll enjoy as entertainment? Is it a chance to connect with influential people? Is it an opportunity to volunteer and do some good? Narrow in on why people should be there.

Cement a Connection

The job is not done once people register. You still have work to do. But you have their opt-in, so you’re one step closer to hitting your fundraising goals.

Now that people are on board for your fundraising event, it’s important to cement that connection. You want to follow-up, inform, and answer questions. You can do all that outreach via text message:

  • Welcome: Send a thank you or welcome message once someone registers for an event.
  • Info: Depending on your event, there are likely lots of questions. What time do we show up? Where do we park? What do we do? A good host will answer all these questions, maybe not immediately, but let people know that details are coming.
  • Connection: This is a good opportunity to tell people more about your nonprofit organization. They’ll learn more at your fundraiser, sure, but you can also start that process now. If they know more about you ahead of time, they’re likely to be more generous.
  • Build anticipation: Texting can be an ideal way to create excitement ahead of your fundraising event. Tease info such as auction items or special guests. Share video of a founder or visible personality to talk about how excited they are (excitement is contagious).

Mobile Fundraising Reminders

That device in their pocket is an excellent way to send reminders and crucial info just before an event.

  • Reminders: People forget, even when they’re signed up. A day-of reminder text message is a great way to follow up and make sure they show up.
  • Alerts: Send weather alerts and last-minute changes via text message.
  • Details: Swoop in with the details many folks forgot about—maps, parking instructions, how to check in, etc. Delivering this info streamlined and straight to their mobile device means they’ll have it with them in-person for your live event.

Get Registered People to Show Up

A lot of nonprofits struggle to get people to actually show up once they’ve registered. You’re not alone. Forging that connection and sending reminders can be a huge boost to ensure people show up and don’t flake out. The effectiveness of texting is crucial—they’re likely to miss a day-of email or all those social media posts, but they’ll see that text message.

During Your Fundraising Event

Once your fundraising event is happening, there are still plenty of ways a mobile device can increase donor engagement.

More Info With Text Messaging

Text messaging is a way to increase donor engagement and connection during the event. People have their cell phone in their pocket, so you can use it to drive participation in your giving campaign:

  • Alerts: Share reminders and alerts in real time to keep people informed. Remind them when the silent auction closes, send last-minute updates or tweaks, and more.
  • Insider info: Offer a peak behind the curtain with insider info. Maybe a teaser pic of the champion trophy or the finishing garnish going on dinner. Or share how it’s going, let them know if you’re on track to reach your fundraising goal or you need a little help.
  • More context: Much like live-tweeting an event, you can send texts to give more context about the info being shared. For example, if your executive director is sharing a story about this year’s clothing drive, text a link to the video so attendees can learn more. When you use texting, it’s more intimate than blasting it to social media.

Take Action: Getting Donations to Your Nonprofit

The whole point of your fundraising event is to get people to donate, so how can a mobile device bring in more dollars?

  • Show progress: Our fundraising thermometer has a simple functionality that can make donating competitive and add an interactive component where donors can share a message and their donation amount.
  • Easy mobile giving: Anything you can do to make the donation process simple is going to be a win. Few people use checks these days or carry around cash, so you need solutions for mobile fundraising. Sharing a shortcode from the stage is user friendly, as is adding a QR code to table tents, posters, and elsewhere around the event. You can make text-to-give work for you and easily collect donations.
  • Ongoing connection: Some fundraisers rely on crowdfunding with supporters bringing their friends. Maybe a supporter buys tickets for an entire table and brings their friends or one person registers a whole team for a golf tournament. It’s peer fundraising at it’s finest. The challenge for the nonprofit is they don’t have everyone’s phone number or address for their CRM—they can only follow up with the supporter who registered. It’s a missed opportunity to grow your contact list. But you can remedy that with a text a keyword approach where they can get more info. You can even make it low pressure call to action and not push hard for a text donation.

Example: For their annual dance performance/fundraiser, Rock School of Dance gave the typical reminder to silence your cell phone. But then one year they changed it up: “Before you silence your cell phone, consider supporting our work by texting ROCK SCHOOL to 24365.” That simple text-to-give pitch made a big difference.

After Your Fundraising Event

Once your fundraiser is over, you’ve cleaned up, and had a chance to breathe—you’re still not done (we all know nonprofit work is never done!). Now you can do a follow-up text messaging campaign. But do take that time to recover before jumping into your next initiative.

  • Donations: Not everybody remembers to donate during the event, so send a friendly follow-up reminder to break out their credit card with a link to your donation page. Sharing progress can be a good way to create some social pressure to pitch in. If your fundraising event included a charity auction, this might be a good time to remind them to pay for or pick up auction items.
  • Share stories: You just had an incredible event with tons of people, pics, and progress. Share those stories! Talk about what you can accomplish thanks to those donations. See how Ascencia shared a win via text. Sharing stories via SMS will prompt your supporters to post to social media platforms.
  • Survey: Offer a post-event survey to share feedback and suggestions to improve future fundraising efforts.
  • What’s next: Right after a successful event is the best time to get someone to sign up for your next event. Let people know what they can do next. Share your upcoming events and, if you can, your dates for next year’s event so people can put it on their calendar.
  • Thank you: Finally, say thanks. These are your bigtime supporters who made this fundraising campaign a success. Take a moment to follow up with a thank you.

Adding Text Messaging to Your Nonprofit Fundraising Event

There’s a lot happening at any nonprofit fundraiser, but you can use texting to increase donor engagement and meet your fundraising goal. Think about how you could implement a few well-timed text messages before, during, and after your next fundraising event.

Get started with Rally and we can walk your nonprofit organization through fundraising strategy and how to make nonprofit text messaging work for your next event.

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