Many nonprofits struggle with text messaging because they’re not sure what to say. That empty text box can be overwhelming and invite doubts about the process. But we know texting is effective and we can help you figure out what to say.
Writing text messages doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, Rally does it for you.
In this post we’ll cover:
- The different types of text messages.
- Tips and examples to help you write texts.
- Pre-written text message templates that make it even easier.
4 Different Types of Text Messages
There are a lot of different types of text messages to send, and it helps to understand what type of message you’re writing. We’ve broken texts down into four basic types of messages that we like to call the SMS Impact Quadrant:
Low impact, low engagement.
- What is it: A simple confirmation notification after a successful transaction. Someone took an action, like making a purchase with a credit card or volunteering, and it triggered a response.
- Example: An opt-in notification, ecommerce text receipt, order confirmation, appointment reminder, thank you message after a fundraising campaign, etc.
- Next level: You can upgrade your transactional messages by adding a call to action: “Thanks for your donation. Here’s a link to our contact card so you can add us to your phone.”
High impact, low engagement.
- What is it: This is the typical ask for a donation, basic SMS marketing.
- Example: Donation requests, asking for volunteers, etc.
- Next level: If all you ever do is ask for money, you’ll turn people off. It helps to share results or tell a story, like the homeless organization Ascencia did with a picture of Juan in his new home.
Low impact, high engagement.
- What is it: Necessary information people are looking for that you’re providing right at their fingertips. Super convenient and helpful.
- Examples: An event reminder, parking tips for a concert, text alerts, etc.
- Next level: Not many organizations are doing this, but it can be a massive way to increase event engagement. (See the series of Polar Plunge texts from Special Olympics Virginia.)
High impact, high engagement.
- What is it: Conversations—asking questions and getting responses. It’s having a conversation with people.
- Examples: Answering questions, explaining how a pledge event works, encouraging a new volunteer, saying happy birthday, etc.
- Next level: Thanks to our sentiment analysis, Rally can flag positive or negative messages so you can follow up later.
Watch a more detailed explanation of the different types of text messages:
10 Tips for Writing Text Messages
We’ve got a few tips to help your nonprofit organization write text messages:
- Write conversationally: Much like social media, texting is informal. While you don’t need to stoop to abbreviated text speak, it helps to write like you speak. Use contractions and slang that would be appropriate for your audience. Keep it casual. There’s nothing more awkward than a formal text that reads like a printed letter (“Dear Sir or Madam…” what?!).
- End with a question: Special Olympics Virginia learned that ending a text with a question can prompt a response. That’s a great way to engage your subscribers.
- Use the robots: Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage these days and you can use it too. You don’t have to automate, but you can use it to help with creation. Ask ChatGPT to write some text messages for your next campaign. You don’t have to use them verbatim, but it can be a place to start.
- Narrow your focus: Speaking of AI, use Rally Insights to learn more about your audience. Use that insight to appeal to a specific audience instead of trying to reach everyone at once.
- Be grateful: If you don't know what to say, it’s always good to say thank you. Express gratitude for specific acts as well as in general for your supportive donors, volunteers, and fans.
- Be helpful: Put actual information in your text message. Don’t do it wrong and make them click a link to find out something basic. Some texting platforms may have limited terms, but we don’t, so include those special offers, giveaways, or limited time pitches.
- Give updates: Donors want to see progress, so My360Project lets supporters know where a project is at and how much more they need. It can tap into the competitive spirit and spur more giving.
- Have fun: Humor can be disarming and engaging. Hello! Don’t be afraid to lighten up. Special Olympics Virginia has fun with puns and jokes. Texting is a more relaxed and personal medium, so have some fun with it.
- More than words: While texting is a, well, text-based medium, it’s not exclusively about words. With MMS you can send images and video. Use memes or emojis to add something different and connect with your supporters.
- Say yes: Sometimes you just have to experiment. The Denver Rescue Mission isn’t afraid to test things out, especially with their dedicated monthly donors who are likely to be more forgiving if something doesn’t work.
Text Message Examples
It’s always incredibly helpful to see examples. Once you see how another organization is doing text message marketing, it’s often a lot easier to envision your organization using text messages.
So check out examples:
You can also check out our case studies for more in-depth examples, whether it’s the Kroc Center in Quincy sending text alerts, the HEADstrong Foundation sending friendly reminders, or the Special Olympics sending a series of event updates.
Pre-Written Text Templates
It’s intimidating to stare at a blank page, so we help you out with pre-written SMS templates. These are sample text messages to get you started. You can make minor tweaks and use them basically as is, or use them as a starting point to craft your own.
The goal is to get you texting.
Don’t let that blank box keep you from communicating.
At Rally, we have these pre-written text message templates built into the platform. They’re not just a PDF handout we threw in as an extra, they’re literally built into the user interface to make crafting text messages easier.
Pick from a library of pre-written text message templates and customize them to meet your needs. For example, we have scripts to:
- Warm up a list when you have new phone numbers.
- Connect with volunteers.
- Encourage recurring donations.
- Drive giving during fundraisers.
- Engage with VIPs.
- Say thank you to your supporters.
- Boost event engagement.
- Drive participation during Giving Tuesday.
You can grab 10 pre-written text templates right now for free to help you get started, whether you use Rally or not.
Then we give Rally users access to 125 pre-written text templates right in the dashboard.
Ready to Write?
It’s time to start texting. Learn more about how to get started with Rally and put those pre-written text message templates to work. We’re here to help: We’ve got FAQs, tutorials, and whatever else you need to start your next SMS marketing campaign.