What is Text to Donate and How Does It Work?

James Martin
What is Text to Donate and How Does It Work?

Everybody has a phone these days, which means your nonprofit supporters text. Tapping into text donations with a text-to-give platform is an ideal way to reach people where they are and boost your fundraising efforts.

What is text-to-donate?: It’s a mobile fundraising method that allows supporters to give via text message. Donors simply text a keyword or phrase to a short phone number (often called a shortcode) and are sent a link to an online donation form to complete their donation to support a cause.

The Biggest Text-to-Give Example

Text donations first came into the spotlight in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake when relief organizations, like the American Red Cross, wanted a fast and simple way to collect donations to help those impacted by this tragedy.

In that text-to-give campaign, for example, the American Red Cross raised over $43 million. Does text-to-give work? Oh yeah!

Text-to-Give vs. Text-to-Donate

What’s the difference between text-to-give and text-to-donate? They are two different functionalities for mobile donations. Technically, text-to-give is run through mobile carriers and shows up on your cell phone bill (and you don’t get their donor information), while text-to-donate involves sending a text message and donors completing the donation process with an online donation on your website. We go into more detail on the difference.

Bottomline: But now the old Red Cross text-to-give service happens pretty rarely. Most organizations use text to donate with online payment processing. These days the terms are often used interchangeably.

Text to Donate for Your Nonprofit

It doesn't matter if you run a small homeless ministry, a regional campaign, or a global organization, all that is required to generate a text-to-donate gift to fund your mission is a keyword, a short code number like 24365, and a link to a mobile-friendly donation page. Donors can give using their credit card, debit card, Apple pay, or the payment method of their choice.

It's a simple way to capture donations with the least amount of effort on the part of your donors. Period. All they need is a mobile phone. And people carry their smartphones everywhere.

Text-to-donate campaigns work:

  • If that were not convincing enough, according to Nonprofits Source, mobile giving donations have increased 205% over the last year.
  • This study shows that 51% of people who visit a nonprofit's website access it on their mobile device.
  • 25% of site visitors complete the donation form on their cell phones.

Put mildly, it's an incredible opportunity for causes of all shapes and sizes to engage website visitors, and you should consider mobile as a means to acquire new donors.

Benefits of Text Donations

When you set up text donations you’re only going to boost your nonprofit fundraising. With texting’s incredible stats, implementing these options is a big win. Social media posts are often never seen and direct mail is ignored. Yes, you do need to use multiple marketing channels, but a text to donate platform can maximize your effectiveness.

  • Simple: With a simple, step by step approach, online giving through text messaging is easy and interactive. It’s as quick as telling people to text a custom keyword to 24365. A link will take them to your online donation page to complete their gift. Done!
  • Donor data: Text giving means you can collect donors’ names and other important contact information for your customer relationship management (CRM) system. That can help with future follow up and other giving options.
  • Own your list: Unlike social media, text-to-give software puts you in control of your list. You can use segmentation for outreach to specific groups and maximize your contact data. You never know when social media sites will change the rules or revoke access—your mobile giving platform shouldn’t be at someone else’s whims.
  • Events: Texting can work great for live events, whether it’s a gala or livestream event. The keyword and shortcode combo is easy to share from the stage, in audio, or on the screen. It quickly directors supporters to your fundraising page to complete your call to action.
  • Share: It’s easy to boost peer fundraising with simple ways to share and offer crowdfunding.
  • Extras: Depending on your text-to-give provider, you can access additional features such as a fundraising thermometer, ringless voicemail, and peer-to-peer texting. It makes for a complete giving experience.

Examples of Text to Donate Fundraising

So what do text-to-donate messages actually look like? Here are examples of how three nonprofit organizations are making text to give work:

Denver Rescue Mission: “We knew right away it would be a great tool for our turkey drive,” said Alexxa Gagner, the senior director of marketing and communications for the Denver Rescue Mission. “Which is really the main way we have used the text campaign and the way we’ve used it the best way to get people involved.” Read more about how the Denver Rescue Mission uses texting.

Example ad: Spread the Warmth Text WARMTH to 24365.

HEADstrong Foundation: “We try to be on the cutting edge,” said Jeff Baxter, vice president of community engagement for the HEADstrong Foundation. “We are small, but we want to be agile and really be able to communicate with our supporters wherever they are. Being able to dial right in to hundreds even thousands of people with one click of a mouse with a text is really powerful.” Read more about how HEADstrong Foundation is connecting with text messaging.

Example text message: "Thanks for participating in the Cullinan Challenge Results from 10/17-10/31 can be logged until 11/6 we will announce the winners on 11/7 Winners will receive a gift card to our HF Gear Shop. Donations will be accepted until 12/31 so please share your link. https://bit.lyResultsCullinanChallenge"

My360Project: “We were raising money for our shoe die machines in Africa and we needed to raise $5,000,” said Darryl Carnley, the founder and CEO of My360Project. “Out of the three texts we did over a period of time we raised most of the money. And not from people who are normal givers.” Learn more about how My360Project uses text to give.

Text message example: "Thank you to everyone that has given towards our shoe building process! We now have acquired 3 of 4 dies for our Uganda Build Center. We currently need $650 for the rest of our shoe dies. If you're willing to help us meet our goal click the link here: bit.ly/ugandabuildcenter Thank you!"

Boost Your Fundraising Efforts

Your nonprofit organization needs a streamlined fundraising solution that helps you connect and accept text-to-give donations. Rally is here to help.

  • Fundraising events: Boost donor engagement by connecting at your events, whether it’s in-person or via livestream. Your event fundraising strategy needs to include a mobile initiative.
  • Connection: Text-to-donate helps you collect donor data for ongoing follow-up. Donors text and they want to hear from you. Use text messaging to stay in touch. That’s a simple way to boost donation amounts and recurring donations to reach your fundraising goals.
  • More help: We’ve got workflows, pre-written templates, FAQs, office hours for real-time and user-friendly support, integrations with fundraising platforms, and more.

Let’s get started. We’re happy to follow-up with a phone call to talk pricing or answer any SMS text-to-give fundraising questions you’ve got, including how to set up text donations. It’s time your nonprofit had a fundraising tool that truly helped you connect with people where they are—on their mobile devices.

If you are interested in learning how text-to-donate can help you raise money fast, complete this form here, and a member of our team will walk through one of your upcoming fundraising campaigns.

We'll share a simple framework to determine if texting can help you raise the money you need to reach your goal. In the meantime, you can download your free guide below.

Text to Donate Buying Guide