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Texting 101

Your guide to using SMS for nonprofits

Alia Paavola
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SMS is a powerful communication tool for nonprofits, enabling them to better engage supporters, share important updates, and drive fundraising. But how can not-for-profit organizations effectively use this communication channel?

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits, use cases, and real-life examples of SMS marketing for nonprofits.

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<h2 id="Benefits">7 benefits of SMS for nonprofit organizations</h2>

Nonprofits have seen positive results from SMS campaigns. Let’s look at some top reasons why this channel is growing in popularity and driving results.

  • High open rate. One of the top reasons nonprofit organizations benefit from SMS is its high open rate. Texts get opened 98 percent of the time, this is nearly five times the open rate of emails. This can ensure your messages are seen.

  • Quick communication. Texting enables quick back-and-forth communication. Most texts are read within three minutes of receipt, and the average response time to a text is 90 seconds. This allows you to converse with contacts quickly.

  • Personalized communication at scale. Text messaging allows nonprofit organizations to have personalized conversations at scale. You can engage in several one-on-one text conversations at a time, whereas with a phone call, you can only talk to one person at a time. You can also set up a mass texting campaign for your nonprofit to reach many people at the same time.

  • Reach people on their go-to channel. Text messages are the most common method of communication worldwide. More organizations are using this communication channel to better connect with their contacts.

  • Highly engaged audience lists. SMS is a form of opt-in marketing. This means you can only connect with the people who want to hear from you. This helps you reach contacts more likely to engage with your messages and calls to action.

  • Strong ROI. SMS marketing campaigns deliver a strong return on investment. With the high open rate and engaged audience lists, it drives results for businesses. Although most SMS platforms require a subscription, texts cost about a penny to send, which is cheaper than other forms of marketing like search or direct mail.

  • Easy to set up and scale. With the right platform, SMS marketing is easy to scale. SMS platforms help nonprofits centralize texts into one easy-to-use conversation inbox, like the one you see on your phone. Texting is also a familiar channel, so it doesn’t require much additional staff training. This enables you to manage the communication channel and scale it with ease.

Check out the full list of key benefits of text message marketing here. 

<h2 id="Ideas">7 nonprofit SMS marketing ideas</h2>

SMS allows nonprofit organizations to improve communication and overcome challenges. Here are some ways to use SMS marketing for nonprofit organizations.

Improve funding and donation solicitation

Although it’s vital to secure consistent funding and donations, it can be a significant challenge for nonprofits. Traditional fundraising outreach can be cumbersome, costly, and only reach a limited audience. 

Text messaging enables not-for-profit organizations to reach a wider audience at a low cost. Nonprofits can use mass texting to reach many contacts at once with personalized donation requests and fundraising updates. Because text messages have such a high open rate, you can ensure messages are read.

SMS platforms also enable you to segment your audience list to send more tailored donation requests. For example, your organization could have one message for past donors and those who haven’t yet supported your cause.

Streamline volunteer and sponsor recruitment

Many nonprofit organizations must recruit volunteers or sponsors for events. However, this recruitment process can be quite time-consuming.

Text messaging can streamline the volunteer and sponsor recruiting process because it helps you reach contacts directly on their mobile devices. You can send a mass text to alert volunteers to new opportunities or get businesses interested in supporting your organization. You can also text to coordinate meeting times, share reminders, and collect necessary documentation from sponsors.

Increase volunteer retention and engagement

In addition to getting new volunteers, it’s also important for nonprofits to retain those who have helped out before and keep volunteers in the know.

Texting can help you keep past volunteers engaged and informed about their commitments. For example, you can share important updates with them, send SMS reminders for upcoming events, quickly get in touch on last-minute changes, and share appreciation messages. This ongoing communication can improve volunteer satisfaction and retention.

Boost event attendance

For nonprofits, it often requires significant effort and cost to promote events and encourage community involvement. 

Nonprofit text message marketing can help you effectively promote events to a broad audience. You can use SMS to:

  • Invite community members to an event
  • Share details about the event
  • Distribute content to encourage event participation
  • Remind attendees about the event
  • Alert attendees to any last-minute event changes
  • Thank attendees for joining the event

Enhance communication efficiencies

Nonprofits need an effective way to communicate with supporters, volunteers, and the community. Email is often slow and a phone call is not always the most convenient way to connect with busy people.

SMS provides a direct and convenient communication channel to reach your contacts. People on the go can reply wherever they are located and at their convenience. Plus, SMS is one of the most effective channels for time-sensitive information because people check their phones often. This ensures that recipients receive important updates in a timely manner.

Texting also enables two-way conversations, which allows you to quickly and efficiently answer questions.

Heighten supporter and volunteer engagement

You want to keep supporters involved with your organization, which means you need to keep them engaged and aware of your nonprofit’s activities, achievements, and funding needs. However, maintaining this ongoing communication effort can often be challenging.

SMS marketing can help nonprofits stay in touch with their supporters. Use text marketing for nonprofits to share success stories, program updates, and urgent needs for volunteers or funding. Keeping people in the know can create a sense of community and encourage participation. 

Improve with feedback from volunteers or supporters

All organizations want to improve continuously and meet the needs of their supporters. However, you need to collect feedback to help understand their needs and pain points, and collecting this feedback can be a challenge.

Nonprofits can use SMS to deliver surveys and polls. These text surveys can be used to understand supporter preferences, collect valuable feedback, and involve your audience in decisions to foster a better relationship.

<h2 id="Examples">8 examples of nonprofit text messaging</h2>

Text message marketing is a versatile tool that can be used to boost event attendance, remind volunteers about their commitments, and request donations. Let’s look at a few real-life examples of nonprofit text marketing.

Event invite

Use a text message to invite the community to your fundraising event or gala. These event invites help increase awareness of your event, nonprofit organization, and cause.

A nonprofit event invite text example.

Charity event discount

Use a promotional text message to encourage participants to sign up for a charity event. In the following example, Lurie Children’s Foundation invites a participant to sign up for a fundraising event called Step Up for Kids.

A promotional event invitation from Lurie Children’s.

Event reminder

Text messages are a great way to remind attendees about an upcoming event. They gently remind people so you can increase attendance. For the most effective SMS reminders, include the date, time, and location of your event.

A charity golf tournament event reminder for nonprofits

Volunteer recruitment

Use a text message to attract more volunteers to your organization. You can engage past volunteers or encourage other community members to do the same.

In the following example, a healthcare organization requests volunteers to spend an afternoon crafting with patients.

A volunteer recruitment SMS example for nonprofits

Donation request

Many nonprofit organizations use SMS to request donations for their cause or request support for an ongoing initiative. SMS donation requests get directly to your contact's mobile phones and allow them to follow a link to donate.

In the following example, a nonprofit organization focused on improving education for children in rural areas is looking for donors to help local schools get more books.

A donation request text example for nonprofits

Donation thank you message

When someone donates to your organization, it’s a best practice to thank them. Using SMS to thank a donor can ensure they get the message in a timely manner.

In the following example, the San Diego Humane Society thanks a donor for contributing to their cause.

A donation thank you text for nonprofits

Share Giving Tuesday results

For many nonprofit organizations, Giving Tuesday is one of the most important fundraising days. You can use text message marketing to request donations on this day and share results with your donors. This can help improve engagement and make donors feel appreciated.

A fundraising update text message example for nonprofits‍

Reengagement campaign

You can also use SMS marketing to reengage past donors or volunteers. This keeps them informed about new initiatives and how their impact made a difference in past years.

A donor reengagement text example for nonprofits

<h2 id="Start">How to get started with text message marketing for nonprofits</h2>

It’s simple to get started with SMS marketing. Here are the five key steps to executing your first campaign.

1. Assemble your SMS strategy. Establishing your strategy is the first step to any outreach campaign, and it’s no different with SMS. In this step, you’ll want to determine your use case, target audience, and campaign goals.

If you want additional insights on creating an SMS marketing strategy, download our free 12-step guide.

How to create an SMS marketing strategy guide

2. Pick an SMS platform. Next, you need to choose a business texting platform that works for your business needs. To narrow down your options, decide what features, pricing structure, and integrations you need. You can also look at online reviews, request demos, or test a free trial.

Textline makes it easy for nonprofits to use SMS with a free trial for all users to test features like mass texting, two-way SMS, and automations.

3. Build your SMS list. The third step is to get consent to text contacts and grow your contact list. You must get opt-ins from them to comply with texting laws like the TCPA.

4. Craft your messages. Next, it’s time to create your marketing text messages. You should always proofread and include a call-to-action so your contacts know what to do.

5. Send texts. Now it’s finally time to send your marketing texts to your target audience. From here, you can track performance and optimize.

Drive results with a mass texting service for nonprofits

Improve communication with sponsors, donors, and the community with a mass texting service designed for nonprofits. Textline is a best-in-class platform for nonprofit text messaging. With robust features like two-way messaging, mass texting, group messaging, and automations, you can streamline communication and improve results. 

But, don’t just take our word for it. Try Textline free today and see for yourself how easy it would be to use texting to improve your nonprofit.

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