Mobile communication is becoming a central part of nonprofit fundraising and advocacy. According to the M+R Benchmarks 2023 report, 62% of nonprofits used text messaging for fundraising purposes in 2022. Plus, text messaging subscriber list size grew by 11%.
Text-to-give is one of the easiest and fastest ways to raise donations via SMS messaging. However, many nonprofits don’t know where to start when it comes to implementing text-to-give campaigns.
This guide will explain how the process works and ways to optimize your campaigns to raise more from this channel. We’ll cover:
- Text-to-give: FAQs
- Pros and cons of text-to-give
- How to set up text-to-give
- Best practices for an effective text-to-donate campaign
- 7 top text-to-give platforms
What is text-to-give and how does it work?
Text-to-give (also known as text-to-donate, text-to-pledge, or text fundraising) is a form of mobile fundraising that asks donors to send a keyword to a text fundraising phone number.
Here’s how the text fundraising process works:
- Your nonprofit chooses a text fundraising platform or service provider.
- You choose a unique keyword and are assigned a phone number for supporters to text.
- Supporters text the keyword to your phone number.
- Supporters either send a donation amount to be charged to their mobile carrier (text-to-give) or are sent a link to your online donation form (text-to-donate) where they can submit a gift.
Around 85% of Americans own a smartphone, making this type of fundraising incredibly effective for reaching donors on a device they use regularly.
What is the difference between text-to-give and text-to-donate?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, text-to-give and text-to-donate do have some slight differences.
With a text-to-give or bill-to-carrier campaign, donors text in a donation amount, which 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.
By contrast, text-to-donate might take the donor a little longer to complete, 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.
Text-to-donate campaigns are most useful for urgent fundraising needs or opportunities, such as a telethon or disaster relief campaign. That’s because donors can send in gifts as quickly as possible when they feel inspired to help.
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 give using your online donation form, you receive the donation much faster than the processing time of the Mobile Giving Foundation.
What kinds of organizations use text-to-give?
All types of organizations looking to expand their mobile fundraising can use text-to-give or text-to-donate, including:
- Healthcare organizations
- Political organizations/campaigns
Text fundraising campaigns can help these organizations fundraise quickly and generate support from a broad audience.
Is text-to-give a safe fundraising avenue?
Text-to-give is no different from any other form of online fundraising—its safety relies on the quality of the platform or service you use to carry out the campaign. Your text-to-give campaigns will be safe when you use secure fundraising tools and a reputable service provider. Be sure to look for a text-to-donate provider that offers measures like:
- PCI compliance
- Fraud detection
- Data encryption
These aspects will make your text fundraising transactions as secure as possible and build donor trust.
Pros and cons of text-to-give
Starting a text-to-give or text-to-donate campaign will require foresight and strategic planning. So, is it worth it for your team to invest time and energy into a text fundraising campaign? Review the following pros and cons to help decide.
Both text-to-donate and text-to-give campaigns offer plenty of benefits that make it easier to fundraise via mobile. These campaigns are:
- Easy to set up and participate. It’s easy for your nonprofit to get started with a text-to-donate provider. For donors, there aren’t too many barriers to participation because all they have to do is pull out their phone and text your number or fill out a quick form.
- Quick. It’s very fast to complete a text donation, with most transactions completed in just a few clicks.
- Engaging. Text-to-donate is a great way to engage participants in real-time, such as throughout an event.
On the other hand, there are some limitations to consider, especially if you pursue a text-to-give campaign instead of a text-to-donate initiative. The cons of text-to-give are:
- Donation amount limits. Depending on the provider, there could be a donation cap on how much donors can give via text-to-give.
- Donor stewardship challenges. You won’t get as much personal information about donors from text-to-give compared to a text-to-donate, where donors make gifts via your online donation form.
- Non-branded experience. With a purely text-to-give campaign, donors won’t be able to get a good sense of your nonprofit’s brand or messaging. There isn’t a natural way for donors to see mission information or engage with other aspects of your nonprofit website.
How to set up text-to-give or 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.
1. Select a text-to-give provider
Working with a text-to-give provider helps you launch mobile giving campaigns on a larger scale. These platforms prioritize security and a positive experience for both nonprofits and donors.
Search for a text-to-donate or text-to-give provider that offers features like:
- User-friendly interface
- Secure donation processing
- Short timeline for access to funds
- Software support
- Clear-cut pricing
- Integration with your other fundraising tools
We’ll explore a few top options in a later section.
2. Choose a relevant keyword
Your keyword can make or break your text fundraising campaign—that’s why choosing the right term 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.
For example, let’s say you’re holding a campaign to support endangered whale species. You might choose the keyword “Save The Whales 2024.” This keyword is easy to spell and remember, and it’s directly related to the purpose of the campaign.
3. Prepare a simple donation form
Donors expect a straightforward and quick experience when they make a gift with text-to-donate. Consider creating a mobile giving form that’s even simpler than your nonprofit’s main online donation page.
For the first step in the donation process, ask for the donation amount. Provide a few suggested donations to make it easier for donors to decide on a gift amount.
In the next step, capture only the personal contact information needed to complete the donation. Typically this includes a name, billing address, and contact information you can use to send a donation receipt and thank-you messages.
In the last step, ask for the information needed to process their online payment, such as their credit card details.
4. Send automated reminders
Use your text-to-give platform to send automated messages to remind donors about your giving opportunities. Also, if you’re carrying out a text-to-pledge campaign, you can send automated reminders to fulfill pledges.
Best practices for an effective text-to-donate campaign
There are a few strategies you can use to make your text-to-donate campaign successful. Follow these best practices to maximize your return on investment (ROI):
Create clear instructions
If you want your donors to adopt text-to-give technology, make it easy for them. Write clear instructions for how to use text-to-donate and share those directions with your supporters in your appeals.
Consider including screenshots of each step so donors visualize what 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.
Test the text-to-donate process
Test out the mobile giving process with your nonprofit’s staff or volunteers before promoting it to your full community. Gather their feedback on what works well and any areas that may need improvement. This will help ensure a smooth rollout when you’re ready to promote this giving option to supporters.
Promote text-to-give opportunities
Spotlight your text-to-donate opportunities using your blog posts, social media posts, and even in your direct mail communications.
Start the process by first distributing your keyword to your savviest donors who are most likely to jump on board. Then, cast a wider net by sending out your keyword with your written or video instructions to other donors who may also be interested in using this giving channel.
Monitor your progress
While it’s possible to set it and forget it, text fundraising can require tweaks to stay effective in the long run. Diving into your data can provide valuable insight into what’s working and what’s not.
Be sure to monitor incoming donations and your total donation amount for text fundraising. If momentum starts to slow down, try out new outbound messages or new cross-platform marketing techniques to secure more gifts.
7 top text-to-give platforms
Leveraging a text-to-give or text-to-donate platform is much more efficient than texting your donors manually or on an ad-hoc basis. You can reach a wider audience, track your campaign progress, and save your team plenty of time.
To maintain donors’ trust, find a secure text-to-donate platform that makes the giving experience as easy as possible. Consider these seven top providers and the features they offer to streamline the process:
Bloomerang’s text-to-donate campaigns prioritize donor engagement and retention. Create a campaign that your staff and supporters can get excited about, with features such as:
- Easy setup. You can choose your phone number directly from Bloomerang’s fundraising app, keeping all fundraising activities centralized in one place.
- Link to any form. Use text messaging to promote your donation page, volunteer registration form, fundraising campaign page, event page, and more.
- Simple giving process. Through Bloomerang’s text-to-donate functionality, supporters will be sent a link to your online donation page, allowing them to learn more about your cause and give using your streamlined form.
- Integration with your Bloomerang CRM. All donations received through Bloomerang’s text-to-donate platform will be automatically recorded in your Bloomerang donor database. This makes follow-up and donor stewardship much simpler because you can track who donated, how much they gave, and when.
- Ability to reach new supporters. Because your text fundraising campaigns are accessible to anyone with a mobile device, you can reach a wider audience of potential new donors.
Bloomerang’s text-to-give feature is available as an optional add-on to Bloomerang’s core donor database product. Explore pricing plans and features.
Qgiv’s text-to-donate platform prioritizes high response rates and speedy donation turnaround times. Engage supporters with features like:
- Outbound texts, with quick updates, news, and donation reminders to keep supporters engaged
- Pledges and automated pledge reminders to ensure donors fulfill their giving intentions
- Campaign reports to track progress and adjust your approach as needed.
Qgiv’s text fundraising services are available for $159 per month. Users also gain access to features like donation forms, event management, and software support.
Through Snowball’s text-to-give platform, donors can give using an email address or mobile donation page. Beyond just text-to-give, Snowball offers the following forms of text fundraising:
- Text-to-bid, which simplifies the mobile bidding process at auction events
- Text-to-tithe, which churches can use to gather charitable offerings
- Text-to-ticket, which organizations can use to make it easier to buy tickets for fundraising events
Text-to-give is available as part of Snowball’s $55 per month premium plan, which also offers access to the Snowball CRM, unlimited campaigns, and more.
The Donorbox text fundraising platform makes it easy for donors to give using a mobile device and become recurring supporters. The platform offers features such as:
- Repeat donation option that allows donors to give again without having to fill out the donation form
- Integration with the Donorbox fundraising system to manage all fundraising activities from one platform
- Simple shortcode option that’s easy for donors to remember when they go to make a mobile donation
The Donorbox text-to-donate functionality is available as an add-on for $19 per month for a standard keyword and $50 per month for a custom keyword. Learn more about their pricing plans.
OneCause offers a versatile text-to-give platform that helps nonprofits access donations in times of urgent need. Drive mobile giving using the platform’s:
- Intuitive interface that makes it easy to set a campaign goal, manage campaigns, and collect donor data
- Interactive fundraising features to make events more exciting, such as a fundraising Scoreboard
- Simple, secure payment processing that enables donors to cover processing fees
Contact OneCause for pricing information.
Tatango is a platform solely dedicated to SMS fundraising. This marketing software offers features such as:
- Automated messaging based on event triggers, such as mid-event donation reminders
- Robust support services from the Tatango Team
- Easy integrations with other software solutions or apps, including a variety of CRMs and marketing software
Contact Tatango for pricing details.
GiveWP is a WordPress donation plugin that offers a variety of fundraising features, including a text-to-give add-on. Using this text-to-give option, your nonprofit can benefit from features like:
- Integration with WordPress to create a seamless flow between your online donation page and text-to-give platform
- Multiple giving options including Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay
- Ability to customize your SMS messages to apply to any campaign type
GiveWP’s text-to-give add-on is available for $79 per year.
Additional text-to-give resources
With this guide, you should be ready to start a text-to-give or text-to-donate campaign ASAP! Choose an effective text-to-give platform and a catchy keyword, and start promoting your campaign across multiple marketing channels.
Looking for additional resources to help support your modern fundraising strategy? Start with these:
- 19 Incredibly Easy Online Fundraising Ideas and Expert Tips. Promoting your text-to-give option alongside your online fundraising campaigns is an effective way to raise more funds. Use this guide to plan an engaging online campaign.
- 30 Best Practices to Optimize Your Nonprofit Donation Page. Your mobile donation form should be simple and easy to use. Follow the tips in this guide to design a better giving page.
- 15 Top Online Fundraising Platforms to Ramp Up Donations. Your online fundraising platform will help keep all digital fundraising activities centralized. This resource highlights top options for nonprofits.