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Using Text Messages to Steward Donors (3 ideas to get started)

It can be difficult to predict exactly what the statistics will be for SMS marketing in 2023, but what we can do is learn from consumer behavior in 2022.

For example, the open rates for SMS messages tend to be much higher than those of emails, with upwards of 98% of messages being opened. Additionally, SMS messages have a much higher click-through rate than emails, with links in SMS messages being clicked on five times more often than those in emails. Finally, SMS messages have a much higher conversion rate than emails, resulting in more donations or volunteers for a nonprofit organization.

Why include SMS Marketing in your fundraising efforts

Nonprofits are always looking for innovative ways to reach their target audiences and increase donations. One of the most effective and cost-efficient methods is SMS marketing. Here’s why nonprofits should consider investing more time and resources in SMS marketing:

  • Quick Delivery: 62% of business, both nonprofit and for-profit said the biggest benefit of SMS marketing is quick delivery
  • Reach a Wider Audience: SMS messages have a 98% open rate, meaning that nearly everyone who receives your message will see it. This is significantly higher than email open rates (20%) or social media posts (2%). This makes SMS marketing an effective way to reach a wider audience.
  • Quick Response: The average person responds to a text message within 90 seconds. This makes SMS an ideal way to get your message out quickly. You can use it to alert supporters about upcoming events, send reminders, and notify them about time-sensitive campaigns.
  • Easy to Track & Measure: SMS messages are easy to track and measure, giving you insight into how effective your campaigns are. You can track click-through rates, track responses, and measure the success of each campaign. This allows you to make adjustments and improve future efforts.
  • Cost-Effective: SMS messages are much more cost-effective than traditional forms of communication like direct mail or print ads. You can set up automated messages and easily reach large numbers of people without breaking the bank.
  • Reach younger generations: 75% of people aged 44 and younger prefer to interact with brands via text message.

Overall, SMS marketing is an effective way to reach a wider audience quickly, track and measure campaigns, and save money. By leveraging a powerful tool like Harness, nonprofits can increase their reach and donations.

You will first need to create an Opt-In plan before you can text donors. 

How to create a donor Opt-In list for texting

Text messaging is an effective and efficient way for nonprofits to engage their supporters, solicit donations, and build relationships with donors. With the right approach and the right tools, nonprofits can get started with text messaging and start raising funds in no time.

A few ways Harness Giving clients have grown their text-message list is by:

  • Sending an email to a contact list inviting donors to Opt-In
  • Post on social media using an easy Keyword to text in (which doubles up as their consent to Opt-In)
  • Include a Keyword in a newsletter
  • Encourage SMS Opt-In during in-person , hybrid, or virtual events.

Once your donors have Opted-In you can send a welcome message to new contacts, thanking them for their support and reminding them of your mission. You can also send automated reminders when it’s time to renew their donation.

Now that you’ve got your contact list set up, you can start creating campaigns.

When structuring text messages, we recommend using the "rule of three" for touchpoints.

The 3 Touchpoints of Texting with recommended timelines

The three touchpoint of texting are:

  1. Acknowledgement - Thank you for your [action — i.e., creating an account, making a donation, signing up to learn more, etc.]"
  2. Impact Update "Here's how your donation is making a difference [include picture/story/update]."
  3. Call-to-Action - "Check out our NEW way to give." OR "Please support our upcoming special campaign!"
Recommended timeline and communication for one-time donors

1349411_Pinterest Graphic - Text Message (monthly)_OP2_041822 (1)


Recommended timeline and communication for round-up donors


Taking this all into consideration

When it’s time to start soliciting donations, create campaigns that are tailored to your target audience and include meaningful messaging that will resonate with your supporters. Make sure to include a call to action and a link to your donation page. You can also send donation reminders during special times of the year, such as the end of the year or during a particular event.

Get started with SMS Marketing with Harness

To get started with texting for your nonprofit, you’ll need to create an account with a text messaging service provider, like Harness Giving. Be sure to choose a provider that offers features that are tailored to nonprofits, such as donation tracking and reporting, and automated capabilities.

Speak to the Harness Team

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