Learn more about how text to donate works in this guide contributed by our friends at Qgiv.

Text-to-donate tools are a great way to raise funds quickly. But many nonprofits don’t use this technology to its fullest potential because of a lack of knowledge on how these tools work. Luckily, this blog post will remedy that.

Below we’ll explain what text-to-donate tools are and how they work so you can use them to raise money for your mission!

What is text-to-donate and how does it differ from bill-to-carrier?

Text-to-donate is a form of text fundraising that asks donors to send a keyword to a text fundraising phone number. So far, it doesn’t sound too different from bill-to-carrier (what we call text-to-give), right? Well, one key difference is what happens after the text is sent.

With bill-to-carrier, donors are asked to confirm their zip code and then the donation amount tied to the text fundraising keyword is applied to their next phone bill. The nonprofit receives the donation sometime later from the Mobile Giving Foundation, which means the donation isn’t instantaneous like with the text-to-donate option.

By contrast, text-to-donate might take the donor a little longer, but you receive the funds a lot faster. When a donor texts your text-to-donate keyword, they’ll receive a link to a mobile-friendly donation form. Following this link, they complete the donation form and submit their donation.

You can set up the text-to-donate option to accept donations of any size using the same form, and it costs significantly less to implement than the bill-to-carrier option. Because donors make the donation on your online donation form, you receive the donation much faster than the processing time of the Mobile Giving Foundation.

But how do you convince donors to respond to your texts? And how does text-to-donate work?

1. Remove barriers to access

If you want your donors to adopt this technology, make it easy for them. Remove all the barriers you can shy of getting everyone in your database a smartphone. That means preparing explicit instructions for how to use text-to-donate and sharing those directions with your supporters in your appeals when they have a text fundraising component.

If you write out the instructions, consider including screenshots of each step so donors visualize what it is they’re supposed to do. Better yet, create a video that shows them how to create their text-to-donate pledge and complete their gift in real time.

When donors know how to use your tools, they’ll be more apt to adopt them.

2. How to set up text-to-donate

Text-to-donate tools make giving fast and convenient for your donors, even when they’re on the go! Read on to learn the steps in the text-to-donate process, as well as find useful tips to help you get the most out of this powerful text fundraising tool.

Set up a text-to-donate keyword.

Your keyword can make or break your text fundraising campaign; that’s why deciding on it is a crucial step in the process. You’ll want a keyword that’s short, easy to spell, and won’t get changed by a phone’s autocorrect function.

As the image above shows, the left column contains simple keywords that are unlikely to be autocorrected and are simple to type in. On the right side are more complicated keyword examples. These are likely to result in typos and autocorrects. LakelandFood, for example, would most likely be split up into two different keywords rather than a single keyword, despite looking simple.

When deciding on a keyword, it helps to know how it will behave. Because of this, it’s imperative that you test your keywords. Be sure to send tests on a couple of different smartphone devices so you know how autocorrect will treat each keyword you use.

Use automatic pledge reminders.

When you text a keyword with Qgiv’s text-to-donate solution, a pledge is automatically created if a gift amount was included with the initial text. With that comes the option to have pledge reminders automatically sent when the pledge isn’t fulfilled.

You can elect to send reminder texts to the phone number used to set up the text-to-donate pledge. You control the messaging and can set the interval for when they go out. That little extra motivation may be just what’s needed to get the donation.

Prepare your form for text-to-donate gifts.

Donors expect a simple and quick experience when they make a gift with text-to-donate. The text messaging part of donating this way is simple, so the form should be too.

When you tie your keyword to a donation form, you’ll want to display as few fields as possible. For the first step in the donation process, ask for the donation amount. You can offer the option to make it monthly and dedicate the gift, but use the example below for how to display those options. They should be there, but they shouldn’t require too many clicks to complete.

This way, the first step in the donation process looks clean and easy. That can motivate donors to move quickly through this process to the next step.

On the next step, capture only the personal contact information needed to complete the donation. Typically this includes a name, billing address, and one or two simple optional fields (at most) that you can use to get information for sending thank you letters.

Avoid creating extra work for the donors. If donors are opting to give using this method, chances are they’re busy people who expect this to be a quick and easy process. That means they likely don’t have time to address optional questions you want to ask.

On the last step, just capture the information needed to accept their online payment.

As you can see from the image above, this donation form asks for the card number, expiration date, and CVV. The billing address being the same as the mailing address checkbox has been selected too, because typing out the same address twice can be a hassle on mobile.

Instead, this form keeps typing to a minimum so the final step in the donation process is quick and easy.

3. How to make text-to-donate effective

Once you have a designated text-to-donate keyword assigned to a donation form, you’re halfway to making text fundraising effective. Now, you need to focus on how to get the word out about the fundraiser. The following tips will show you how to market your text-to-donate campaign effectively.

Test the text-to-donate process and create instructions.

Another way to remove barriers is to create a guide or video explaining how to donate using this process. This helps the people who want to use this tool use it successfully for the first time, and you’ll have documentation of how text-to-donate works.

Distribute your text fundraising keyword to supporters.

Text fundraising can only work if your guests know about your text fundraising campaign. If you’ve got a text keyword ready to go, be sure to distribute it to the supporters most likely to give via text message. Your savvier supporters will have no problem texting your keyword to your text-to-donate number to start the process.

That said, if you have your instructions ready, you can even provide those to people who might need a little help when completing the process. This makes it possible to widen your net and earn more text-to-donate gifts.

You can distribute your text-to-donate keyword and instructions on your website, in your blog posts, on social media, and even in appeals you send to your supporters.

Watch text-to-donate donations come in.

While it’s possible to set it and forget it, text fundraising campaigns can require tweaks to stay effective in the long run. Be sure to monitor incoming donations. If things start to slow down, try out new outbound messages to your top supporters to secure more gifts (if they didn’t give to the campaign already).

Diving into your data can provide a great deal of insight into what’s working and what’s not. If you compare a report of who gave using this method with the method they got the text fundraising keyword, you can easily identify which marketing channels are doing the best for your nonprofit. It can even make it easier to see which of your appeals is most effective for earning text-to-donate donations.

Final thoughts

We hope you’re no longer asking how text-to-donate works and are instead asking how you can start implementing this fundraising strategy ASAP! A text fundraising tool makes it easy for you to receive funds quickly by asking donors to complete a couple short tasks. You can even enable reminders to encourage them to fulfill their text-to-donate pledges. This leads to more completed gifts and more funds raised for your cause.

Looking for additional resources to help with your fundraising? Check these out:

Abby Jarvis

Abby Jarvis

Director of Marketing Communications at Qgiv
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, a provider of industry-leading online giving and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.