Text to Donate vs. Text to Give: Which is Right for You?

James Martin
Text to Donate vs. Text to Give: Which is Right for You?

Nearly everyone has a cell phone. This means nonprofits can reach donors where they are with mobile fundraising using text to give or text to donate. 

96% of consumers own a cell phone, according to Pew Research. That means you can reach donors where they are—there’s a wealth of engagement opportunities right in your donors’ hands.

We’ll explore the difference between text 2 donate vs. text 2 give, but first let’s explore why mobile can help your fundraising efforts in the first place.

Mobile Fundraising Today

If you want to be successful with text to give or text to donate, you must deliver a positive donation experience. You’ll need to develop an effective mobile fundraising strategy.

Thankfully, you’re not alone. About 80% of nonprofit organizations have some form of a mobile fundraising initiative.

The best mobile experiences are simple:

  • They make it easy for your donors to remember why you’re in the business of doing good.
  • They make it frictionless to make a gift—whether it’s a first-time gift, recurring donation, or during in-person or livestream fundraising events with as few steps as possible.

With the right mobile fundraising tool, you can inspire donors to give.

What’s SMS Messaging and Shortcodes?

  • SMS stands for short message service. Most people call it text messaging or texting. It’s a cost-effective way to send short messages containing text.
  • Shortcode is a special, short phone number used especially for SMS messaging. A shortcode is only five to six digits long, hence its name. More importantly, it’s easy to remember.

Why Go Mobile?

The average American consumer checks their mobile device about 80 times a day. An important part of those engagements involves making payments using their phones.

In 2021, online payments increased drastically. Analysts forecasted they would reach $200 billion by the end of the year.

As a nonprofit, you can capture your share of that revenue for your organization with mobile fundraising. Furthermore, you can make the process easy for donors.

Text-to-donate campaigns offer big advantages:

  • Measure return on investment: Technology makes it easy to measure the return-on-investment of your mobile fundraising initiatives.
  • Familiar: By using text-to-give platforms, you can give donors a way to contribute that feels familiar. They’re already used to texting and paying for things on their mobile phone, now they’re just doing it for a nonprofit organization.
  • Save time: SMS fundraising saves a considerable amount of volunteer hours.
  • Engage: Increase your engagement with the community quickly with mobile fundraising.
  • Donor data: Your nonprofit can get access to enhanced donor information with text 2 give. For example, you can use an SMS fundraising campaign to direct donors to your online donation page. This kind of online fundraising campaign enables you to capture key metrics.

Real world example: There are other ways you can measure the performance of mobile fundraising solutions. Imagine you’re raising funds for a time-sensitive cause. In that case, you can measure real-time performance by how fast the initiative helps your organization reach its goal.

Reality check: It takes some time to get mobile fundraising right. However, it’s important to think beyond total donations when considering text-2-give performance in the beginning.

Benefits of Text to Donate: Follow up with donors, tell your story, any donation amount, uses your donation process.

Reaching Donors on the Go

Many nonprofits have embraced texting donors to boost donations over the last year. Between 2020 and 2021, mobile giving increased by 205%.

Currently, nonprofits have two major options for SMS fundraising—“text to give” and “text to donate.” Both formats encourage giving through mobile phones.

  • Easy: In either case, soliciting donations by text is much easier than doing so by phone.
  • Better engagement: mobile fundraising results in better engagement compared to email or social media campaigns.
  • Comfortable: Texting donors is non-intrusive. It’s also more personal. Donors are more willing to give to your cause when you engage them with mobile fundraising.
  • Easy to use: From an administrative perspective, mobile fundraising is easy to deploy and user-friendly. Accordingly, it’s become indispensable for nonprofit groups.

You can launch your mobile fundraising campaign using either text to give or text to donate. However, there are differences between the two functionalities. So how do you know which option will produce the best results?

Text to Donate vs. Text to Give

All too often the terms text to give and text to donate are used interchangeably. In fact, most people don't know there is technically a difference. This is partly due to the explosion of smartphones over the last decade. When technology like text to give first came out, the way we purchased products online using our mobile phones looked different. The price point for text to give also made this technology cost-prohibitive for many organizations, so it never really had a chance to become mainstream.

What Is Text to Give?

Text to give mobile fundraising is a carrier-based method. It enables you to engage with supporters using text messages. You can launch an inbound-only, mobile fundraising campaign whenever you feel inspired.

Your donors would text a keyword using a shortcode and the donation amount. The phone carrier would add the donor’s donation to their next phone bill. Provided, of course, the network carrier or phone provider supported it.

With text to give, however, donations are limited to a static amount. For instance, you can only arrange for donations between $5 and $50 in increments of $5, depending on the platform that you use.

What Is Text to Donate?

Conversely, text to donate is different from text to give. Instead of accepting donations through a carrier, it’s a form-based, mobile fundraising method. You initiate the text donation process with a text message from your unique shortcode.

Here, supporters can complete the giving process. They’ll fill out the giving form, selecting a donation amount and allowing you to accept the donation and capture important donor information—as well as vital key metrics—just like typical online giving.

Text to Give vs. Text to Donate Comparison

Text to Give Text to Donate
How does it work? Cell phone carrier adds the donation to the donor’s phone bill. Donor completes donation through nonprofit’s online donation form.
Donation amount? Fixed amounts between $5-$50 at $5 increments Donors choose any amount to donate. We see high average donation amounts ($135-154), so a fixed amount could mean missing out.
Follow up? No, there’s no interaction with donors. Yes, you can reply, send additional messages, and interact with donors.
Donor data? No, you don’t get any contact info or other data from donors. Yes, the donations go through your online fundraising page, so you get that data.
Nonprofit branding? No, the interaction is generic and not customized for your brand. Yes, you control the exchange and can use your own branding.
Setup? The setup process can be complicated and requires approval by carriers, who won’t work with small nonprofits. There are still important setup requirements and timelines, but it’s much easier for nonprofits of any size.
Access to funds? Funds have to be processed by the carrier, so there can be a substantial delay to access donations. Donations go through your online donation form, so it follows the same process, which is generally more direct and faster.

The Limitations of Text to Give Fundraising

There’s been a lot of talk in nonprofit circles about text to give technology after it raked in $43 million for the Red Cross Haiti earthquake relief campaign. Despite that success, text to give isn’t right for every nonprofit.

Text 2 give can drive donations. However, there are major disadvantages to using text to give for mobile fundraising:

  • Smaller donations: You’re limited to a fixed donation amount when using text to give mobile fundraising. That can mean smaller donation amounts when you use text to give mobile fundraising platforms because they literally can’t be more than $50.
  • Can’t tell your story: Text to give donations also don’t allow you to tell your organization’s story.The biggest driver of nonprofit donations is your organization’s story. Potential supporters need to evaluate whether they trust your methods. However, a text to give campaign is devoid of your branding. There are no logos, colors, or campaign designs. Text to give doesn’t provide a strong connection with your nonprofit’s brand. Your mobile fundraising campaign will feel transactional without branding and personalization. 
  • No follow up: Text 2 give is not interactive and you can’t follow up. Supporters aren’t even interacting with you, it goes through the carrier. You have no relationship with the donor and can’t follow up—not even to send a thank you message. Donors text and you should be able to text back.
  • No data: To make matters worse, you will not have access to the actual donor's mobile phone number or collect any donor data, so following up with a thank you or moving donors into other channels to develop your relationship is not possible. If donor engagement is important to you and your team, text to give is not the right solution.
  • Weird process: The text-2-give experience is unlike any other purchase the donor will make on their mobile phone with their credit card or debit card in their digital wallet. In every other case, they will use their credit card and decide based on the experience at checkout. In fact, it is so unique that in recent years its support among the carriers has waned, and, likely, new phone providers will not support it in the coming years.

More than anything, changing technology and how people use devices has rendered text-to-give obsolete. It might have worked for the Red Cross in 2010, but that was early days in mobile fundraising. These days the text to donate process is more likely to bring success for most nonprofits.

Promoting Long-Term Giving With Mobile Fundraising

Very few nonprofits emphasize ongoing donations. Yet recurring subscriptions are a part of everyday life. Many people subscribe to services such as Netflix and Spotify. Nonprofits can learn a thing or two from the subscription model.

Recurring donations aren’t just an important giving option—it’s a necessity.

Ideally, nonprofits should embrace a streamlined way to compel donors to give regularly. Text to donate can be that solution. It’s more than a one-off initiative and can help your organization sustain its mission. Text-to-donate fundraising can help you meet this objective.

Reach Your Goals With Text to Donate

Rally is your solution for conversational text to donate technology. Our platform enables you to forge unbreakable relationships with donors and volunteers.

With the Rally text to donate platform, you can connect and engage new donors confidently. It also reduces friction when acquiring new donors.

  • Easy: We’ll provide your nonprofit with easy-to-remember shortcodes and point-and-click QR codes. In addition to Text-2-Donate, we also offer Text-2-Pledge and Click-2-Call campaigns. In total, our platform offers more than 42 core features and benefits.
  • Integrations: You can use our giving tools with your existing workflows, processes, and fundraising software. In fact, Rally has integrations with more than 2,000 applications. You can even use Rally to embed text messaging into your existing donor journey.
  • Flexible: Our platform also gives you the ability to swap donation platforms and processes at any time. Even then, you can continue to use your short number, keywords, and opt-ins. You will own 100% of your data, and you can download contact phone numbers and donor information manually or automatically pull it into a Google Sheet or CRM.
  • Share: You can also compel supporters to share links with their friends using SMS messaging for peer fundraising to collect donations. We even have pre-written text message templates to make it easier. 

With so many options, your mobile donation opportunities are seemingly endless. Rally can help you meet your fundraising goals. 

Mobile Fundraising Examples

Examples of text-to-donate from the Salvation Army, promoting texting "BREAD" to 24365.

So let’s see text to donate in action on a mobile giving platform:

  • The Salvation Army uses multiple text-to-donate keywords for different fundraising options. However, “It has to be part of the bigger integrated strategy,” said Digital Marketing Specialist Anna Davenport. That’s why they tie it into social media platforms, email outreach, live events, and more for a holistic giving experience.
  • The Pablove Foundation used text to donate on the jumbotron at a sporting event in front of 30,000 people. They also used it for event fundraising to activate and empower volunteers. Fundraising thermometers have helped them boost donations.
  • For the Special Olympics, texting provided a way to break through: “There’s so much noise in the email world; we needed a way to cut through.” -Aliza Tekavec 

Acquire, Engage, Retain

Now you know more about text to donate vs. text to give. With Rally, you can remove the barriers to giving and building relationships. You can also increase community support.

Donors are 12 times more likely to respond to Rally messages compared to any other communications practice. 

Use Rally to go beyond impersonal text blasts. Our platform makes it easy to launch a relational texting campaign.

Get started: Contact Rally today at (858) 240-2250 or connect with us online to request a demo. You can also text RALLY to 24365* and follow the prompts to see it in action.

We are here to help you engage donors in a meaningful way on the medium they prefer. Click the link below for a free resource.

Rally Corp Text to Donate Buying Guide

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