How to Run a Text Fundraising Campaign

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As people become increasingly dependent upon their smartphones, fundraisers are on the lookout for ways to make donating on a cell phone as quick and easy as possible. One solution has become particularly popular; nonprofits all over the country have started up programs that allow donors to give via text message.

Text-based donations have been around for years, but successfully running a text fundraising campaign can still be tricky for many nonprofits. Here are some best practices to keep in mind during your next text fundraising campaign.

1. Setting up

The process for setting up a keyword for your text fundraising campaign will vary from provider to provider. At Qgiv, the process looks something like this:

  1. Set up an account (if you don’t already have one)
  2. Think of a short-code you want to use. At Qgiv, short-codes aren’t case-sensitive
  3. Call or e-mail Qgiv’s customer service and ask them to set up your short-code
  4. That’s it!

Some tips to keep in mind while setting up include:

  • Keep short-codes simple. The longer or more complicated your short-code is, the less likely donors are to make a donation in the first place. Keeping them simple also prevents typos that might delay the donation process.
  • Try to make short-codes unique. While simplicity is important, it’s also important to make your short-code as unique to your organization as possible. This is mostly important when you’re setting up your short-code through your service provider — generic short-codes are usually the ones that are snapped up first. If you call and request the short-code “CHURCH” and don’t have a back-up short-code in mind, you’ll probably be disappointed.
  • Keep the forms simple. With Qgiv text fundraising, users text the short-code and a dollar amount to a specific phone number. They’re then taken to a short, simplified version of an online donation form that takes only seconds to fill out. You can add restrictions, events, and other elements to that form, but beware! The longer it takes to fill out a form, the less likely it is that donors will complete the process. If you must include fields or questions other than name and payment information, only include one or two.

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2. Spreading the word

People won’t donate via text if they don’t know that it’s an option. To make sure your text fundraising campaign is a success, focus on making people aware that they can donate via text message. Here are some strategies a few Qgiv clients have used recently:

  • Flyers: Many nonprofits include a note on flyers, handouts, brochures, and other materials at events to promote their text fundraising campaign. The note usually includes a few words about how donors can give by texting a short-code and dollar amount to their number, then following the steps from there.
  • Announcements: This works best for situations in which you have a captive audience — think awards ceremonies, speaking engagements, videos, and the like. This is an excellent option if you can swing it!
  • Contests: Adding a competitive element to a campaign, if done well, can have excellent results. One recent event I attended included a rally for students of two universities; each university had their own keyword and competed to raise more money than the other school. It was a fun, friendly contest and had excellent results!

3. Keeping track

Once you’ve run your campaign, take a look at the results to gauge your strategy’s effectiveness. This is especially useful if you’ve run multiple campaigns with different promotion methods — you can compare and contrast the results of each campaign to best gauge the most effective ways to promote future campaigns.

In the Qgiv system, you can easily track your text-giving performance by running a report of your text-giving donations. Here’s a quick guide:

  1. In your main dashboard, click on Reporting and select Reports
  2. Chose the correct date range
  3. Click Advanced Filtering
  4. Select Source
  5. Click SMS
  6. If you have multiple short-codes, choose the ones you would like to include in the report
  7. You’re done! You can download the report, save it as a custom report, and access it again the future.

With these 3 tips, you’re well on your way to organizing a profitable text-to-give campaign. Remember that it’s all about providing your donors with an easy way to give, so choose a tool the makes the giving process quick and simple and provide donors with resources to learn how to give via text message.

Additional resources

  • Ultimate Mobile Giving Guide. If you’re running a text-to-give campaign, why not optimize your other mobile giving methods? Learn more about reaching donors through mobile-optimized donation forms.
  • Top Online Donation Tools. Having an optimized form that generates donations starts with the right tool. Get 6 killer online donations tools to help you find the right software.
  • Donor Stewardship Guide. Retaining donors is just as important during a text-to-give campaign as with any fundraiser. Learn the key strategies you need to initiate the donor cultivation process.

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