Text-to-Donate & Text-to-Give: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Organizing via text has continued to grow as a popular and effective way for organizations and campaigns to engage with their supporters, and a recent report from NationBuilder show that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated that trend even further. With Giving Tuesday and end-of-year fundraising right around the corner, we're diving in to explore how your organization can use text messaging for fundraising with text-to-give and text-to-donate campaigns.

Text-to-Give vs. Text-to-Donate: What's the Difference?

To put it simply, a text-to-give campaign allows donors to text a keyword (like "GIVENOW") to a shortcode (usually a short 5-digit phone number, like "55555") to have a predetermined donation amount added to their next monthly phone bill.

With a text-to-donate campaign, donors are still asked to send a keyword to a short code or phone number to announce their intention to donate. However, this model is more conversational — instead of a predetermined charge being added to their next phone bill, the donor is instead sent a text-message response with a link to your organization's mobile-optimized donation page asking them to make a donation.

Text-to-Give: Pros & Cons

Text-to-give campaigns may seem like the preferred solution at first, as the experience from the donor's perspective is quick and efficient. However there are a number of reasons why a text-to-give campaign isn't ideal:

Strict Minimum Requirements to Qualify

All text-to-give campaigns are run through the Mobile Giving Foundation or one of it's partners. There are strict criteria your organization must meet to be able to run a text-to-give campaign. For example, in the US, your organization must be a registered 501(c)3 with a gross revenue of at least $500,000 USD. This puts running this kind of campaign out of reach for many smaller non-profits, and takes this option off the table all together if your organization is not a registered 501(c)3. You can learn more about the minimum criteria for US non-profits here, and the criteria for Canadian registered charities here.

A Small, Fixed Donation Amount

Another disadvantage of text-to-give campaigns is that donors do not have the option to select how much they want to give. Text-to-give campaigns are they are limited to collecting donations of $5, or $10, or $25, and you must choose one predetermined donation amount for each campaign.

Text-to-Donate: More Accessible & Customizable Campaigns

Text-to-donate campaigns can be run by any size or type of organization or campaign, all you need is the right tools.

NationBuilder has everything you need to run an effective text-to-donate campaign, including the ability to send and receive text messages, create text keywords, build mobile-friendly donation pages with suggested giving amounts, one-time & monthly or annual recurring donation options, and more. You can also enhance your text-to-donate campaigns with integrated SMS platforms like Callhub that offer even more features, like peer-to-peer texting capabilities.

Text-to-donate campaigns ultimately require your donors to take an extra step and visit your donate page to make their donation. While this may seem like a negative at first, there are a number of advantages that come with this approach. For example, sending donors to your donation page means they can choose how much they want to give rather than being forced to give a fixed, predetermined amount. They can also choose if they want to give a one-time or recurring gift while making their donation.

Sending donors to your mobile-optimized donation page also gives you another opportunity to share more of your story with potential donors. Including content on your donation page highlighting the impact of their donation is a great way to engage your target audience.

Running a text-to-donate campaign through NationBuilder also means it's easy to target key segments of your audience with different messaging. For example, you can reach out to previous donors with one message, and first-time donors with another. Or, you could target those who have already donated more than once and ask them to sign up as a monthly recurring donor, sending them to a specific donation page optimized for that purpose.

And, because the first step in a text-to-donate campaign involves supporters texting a keyword to indicate their intent to give, you can easily track which donors are converting and which are dropping off and follow up with them to ask about their experience. This presents another great opportunity to refine and improve your organization's messaging and engage with supporters in a meaningful way by asking for their input.

Interested in learning more about organizing or fundraising via text? Get in touch with us.

Ryan Vandecasteyen
About Ryan Vandecasteyen
Ryan is Van City Studios' chief strategist and design expert.
With #GivingTuesday and end-of-year #fundraising right around the corner, we're diving in to explore how your organization can use text messaging for fundraising with text-to-give and text-to-donate campaigns.
Text-to-Donate & Text-to-Give: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Hi, it's nice to meet you.