Texting: The new nonprofit windfall?

An interesting trend is emerging in fundraising that could be the key to reaching new demographics willing to support your nonprofit’s cause: text message fundraising.Currently, there are 2 billion mobile subscribers worldwide and it’s estimated that some 3.5 billion text messages are sent and received each day. Text messaging has become not only an accepted form of communication, but many nonprofits like the Canadian Red Cross, CARE Canada and others are finding it to be an accepted form of garnering charitable donations. The process works like this:

  • A nonprofit subscribes for a fee to a site like MobileGiving.ca that enable users to send a pre-determined text message keyword from their phone like “CARE” or “FLOW” to a numeric code that acts as a phone number.
  • The nonprofit then promotes this keyword and code in other marketing and promotion efforts, such as its website, Facebook and Twitter, e-mail signatures and brochures to create awareness.
  • A donor then texts the keyword to the code, along with a donation amount. Instead of the message being sent to a person, a donation is automatically billed to the user’s cell phone provider.
  • Once payment is processed, the donation is sent directly to the receiving nonprofit and donors can access receipts for future tax purposes.

As of February 2, 2010, the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada raised $500,000 in text donations alone to aid recovery following a devastating earthquake in Haiti by asking people to text various keywords to several short codes in order to donate $5 or $10 to organizations supporting Haiti relief efforts, like the Canadian Red Cross. A simple gesture made remarkable through the power of many. While your nonprofit likely hasn’t experienced this texting generosity, you may still find great success in pursuing text message fundraising in your overall fundraising strategy.
Here are few ideas to get started:

  • Once you establish a subscription to support text message fundraising, spread the word. Promote your keyword and code on all marketing and communications materials. Add a few new pieces to the marketing mix with branded Click Pens and scratch pad Note Cubes preprinted with the keyword and code.
  • Consider distributing memorable gifts, like a Cell Phone Shaped Tin of Mints or Post-It Notes® in the shape of a mobile phone, to current donors, program participants, staff and volunteers with a note that lets them know your nonprofit has added a new way to give.
  • Create a viral text fundraising campaign—take to social media sites to promote a text fundraiser within a specified period of time. Ask followers and friends to donate and re-post or re-tweet your nonprofit’s keyword, code and call to action. Thank friends and followers who champion your cause most actively with handwritten thank-you notes that say “Thanks for donating to the cause and the message!” and small tokens of gratitude like a Square Light Key Tag or Star-Shaped Pencil.

As more and more people integrate mobile phones into the fabric of their daily lives, the more opportunity there is to potentially expand your donor base. The growth in mobile use and increase in awareness of text message giving is great reason for your nonprofit to explore mobile fundraising efforts today.

For more information on mobile marketing, read our Blue Paper®!

“How To Develop A Mobile Marketing Strategy – A Point of View | Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Business | Fast Company.” FastCompany.com – Where ideas and people meet | Fast Company. Web. 14 Jan. 2010.
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