What’s In My Inbox | Text message donor communications, yay or nay? (Hint: it depends)

October 3, 2017

When it comes to nonprofit communications, should you communicate with your donors via text messaging, simply because you can?

It depends. On your donors. On your mission. According to MobileCause, “Millennials prefer text reminders, GenXers prefer email reminders, and Boomers prefer call reminders.”

Text messaging has the potential to mobilize engagement, especially when it comes to connecting with millennial donors. But only look to it after you’ve got your fundraising basics fully on lockdown. Is making an online gift to your nonprofit already as seamless as possible? Your site may be mobile-optimized, but is your *donate page*? What about your followup processes? What are you doing to engage that new donor?

I mentioned that text messaging appeals to millennial donors, and that’s no surprise, considering their need for speed and love of all things technological. Text messaging combines both. I am no millennial donor. Wolf-PAC (Political Action Committee), a nonpartisan organization aiming to restore integrity to political elections, recently reached out to me via text. Keep in mind that I don’t remember whether I donated, signed a petition, or both. I *do know* that I never gave Wolf-PAC permission to text me. The interaction went exactly as follows…




So what’s the moral of the story? Yes, you can take advantage of text messaging, but you better be careful with it. Despite my slight annoyance over the texting snafu, Stephan’s response was polite, considerate, and pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear at that point. Wolf-PAC is doing critical work that is especially necessary here and now, and I appreciate that they’ve altered my communication preferences based on my individual needs. After all, individuality is crucial to donor communications as a whole, isn’t it? Your donors are individuals. How are you capturing their preferences?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eric Bryant October 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Your article brings up a very important point: You need to first always get permission before sending text messages. And second, not everyone wants to communicate via text. This is a case where knowing your customer/audience intimately is critical.

On the other hand, research shows that many nonprofits will raise more overall with an SMS donation program in their marketing mix than they will without one (see https://www.gmg.cm/blog/do-sms-donations-work).

One of the best tools a nonprofit can have in its marketing mix is texting, actually. Texting and mobile giving are so powerful that it’s amazing these technologies are still so underrated in the nonprofit community. SMS, for example, is truly a cinderella technology for nonprofits and social enterprises.

Texting is cheap, fast and easy. Has almost zero barrier to entry. And is built into every phone. People in lower-income communities, not just in the U.S. but around the world, have been utilizing SMS to give to charity.

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