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6 min read

Your Guide to Text-to-Give (T2G) Fundraising Success

man sitting on a couch and texting on his smartphone

These days, smartphones have the power to do almost anything. From little things like checking your email or watching live TV, to controlling your home’s security system from anywhere in the world. Needless to say, many people control their daily lives from the palm of their hand.

According to Statista, 298 million Americans owned a smartphone in 2021, and it’s estimated that number will grow to over 301 million in 2022.1 That’s over 91% of the US population. With the vast majority of Americans owning a smartphone, and the number continuing to go up, that means there is a large population who have the means to take part in text-to-give fundraising.

What is text-to-give and how can your organization start your own T2G campaign? Use this guide to learn all you need to know about text-to-give fundraising.

What Is Text-to-Give and What Are the Benefits?

Text-to-give is a feature for organizations that allows donors to give money straight from a text message, or to quickly send out links and information. Text-to-donate is also a term used to describe the same feature, but it is normally used to send donors a link to a typical online giving form, rather than allowing donors to give through a text message.

Text-to-give fundraising is another method for organizations of any kind to raise money. It is designed for quick giving and can be easily implemented for any size campaign, but is great for one-day events like galas or concerts. Many people will more than likely have their smartphones nearby at such events. Mobile giving itself reached an all-time high in 2021, where 28% of online donations were made on a mobile device.2 So when more and more people are giving via their smartphone, providing them another convenient option to donate instantly through T2G will allow your organization to reach a wider audience.

People are always on the move, so being able to reach them from anywhere is crucial. They may not have easy access to a computer, so their only way to donate may be through their phone. Having them come to you isn’t a good donor experience, so instead use text-to-give to go to them. The instructions on how to donate through T2G can be easily shared across any platform, which makes it especially useful for social media.

Your donors are already on their smartphones for various uses, so meet them where they are.

Campus Outreach was able to meet new, young donors online, and their donations skyrocketed. Learn more how they did it. → Read More

Best Campaign Uses for Text-to-Give

  • One-day events – Larger one-day events like a gala or a concert are perfect for text-to-give. When the goal is to raise as much as possible in a single day, you want a quick and convenient way for attendees to donate. This is what text-to-give provides as they can do it right from their phone.
  • Emergencies – In times of crisis, people come together to help those in need. When that help is needed quickly, text-to-give provides an immediate form of giving that anyone can take part in.
  • Church giving – As many churches are beginning to livestream their services, people are now watching church online. To keep people connected, text-to-give for churches is becoming increasingly popular, allowing people to tithe from anywhere.

How Does Text-to-Give Fundraising Work?

From your donor’s perspective, text-to-give is easy. They simply text a keyword (e.g. GIVE) to a specified number, and the automated texts that follow give them instructions on what to do next. Different platforms may have varying requirements for the user, but the general path to give through text messaging is all the same. For first-time givers, they may need to set up an account, but their information will be stored so they can easily give again another time for a one-click donation.

iDonate makes setting up a T2G fundraising channel a snap. On the back end of your platform, all you need to do is come up with an easy-to-remember keyword, attach it to either a campaign or designation, and click Create. That’s it. iDonate allows you to have an unlimited number of keywords, too. When donors text that keyword to the number attached to your organization, they will receive instant automated instructions after each message.

The number that donors text to may come in either of two forms: short code or long code. A short code is a shortened number that is typically four or five digits (e.g. 00000). These campaigns usually offer unlimited texts and donations using unique IDs or keywords that your organization chooses (such as your organization or campaign name, or another simple phrase). These types of codes are widely used because they are easy to set up, easy to share, and easy to remember for the donor.

Long code text campaigns use a 10-digit phone number that is assigned to you and the donor texts their donation amount to. The process for giving through either code is the same for the donor.

Thomas Jefferson University added Text-to-Give to their fundraising efforts and saw big results. Read More

Differences Between Text-to-Give and Text-to-Donate

You may see these two terms used interchangeably, but many platforms that use text-to-donate apply it differently. Text-to-donate will often refer to a text platform where users are texted a web link to a standard giving form. While the idea is the same where donors can text for an immediate giving option, text-to-give is typically more convenient as donors don’t have to fill out a giving form on their phone; the donation process is done entirely through text messaging. As well, some platforms charge different prices for a text-to-give feature vs. text-to-donate. Be sure to check your platform’s feature list closely for this information.

Other Text-to-Give Features

By setting up a text-to-give channel on your campaign, donors are guided through the giving process with various prompts that allow them to easily correct mistakes in the giving process or update their information. All platforms can add in their own prompts, but these are some examples of what donors may see and use:

  • BACK – Cancel a donation before account set up.
  • DONE – End the current donation session.
  • QUIT, CANCEL, or STOP – Any of these commands will allow your donor to opt out of receiving all messages.
  • EDIT or UPDATE – Change payment or user profile information.
  • SUPPORT – View a list of all commands while making a donation.

Depending on the T2G platform you choose, donors can also set up recurring donations (iDonate is one). Like the commands above, donors will only have to text a word like REPEAT for their donation to be made a recurring one. Because their phone number is connected to their account, allowing your donors to set up a recurring donation through text is a breeze.

With iDonate, you also can send out web links and general information. Using the same keyword functionality, you can create your own auto-responders where you add in personal text and links. This is especially useful for event registration or polls.

6 Tips To Help You Get the Most Out of Text-to-Give Fundraising

Text-to-give can be one of the most effective forms of giving. It’s instant, convenient, and adds yet another way for donors to use their smartphone. Keep these six tips in mind when you are thinking of a text-to-give fundraising campaign.

  • Keep keywords relevant – Your keyword should reflect the tone of what people are giving to. If you're asking people to donate to your cause that feeds children, you probably don't want to make your keyword "FUN."
  • Keep keywords short and simple – Short, simple keywords are easy for donors to remember and reduce the risk of typos that could prevent them from donating.
  • Communicate a clear call to action – As with all your communications, it is important to tell your donors exactly what you're asking them to do. Make it as clear and simple as possible. If you would like them to donate to your cause via text, ask them to "Please text [KEYWORD] to 99999."
  • Make your number and keyword visible – It is very important to allow donors to read your keyword and number, not just hear it. This eliminates confusion and allows people to visually reference the information they will need in order to complete their donation. Include the keyword and number on printed materials, event signage, and social posts.
  • Provide instructions and set expectations – If time allows, let people know how to donate and what they can expect the experience to be like immediately following your ask. We recommend something like, "Please text KEYWORD to 99999. When you do, you'll receive a reply with a link that will tell you exactly how to donate."
  • Say thank you – This goes without saying for all donations, but for something that may feel robotic like text-to-give, a personal thank you goes a long way. And this shouldn’t be another auto-response when the donation session is finished. Send the donor a personal message (text, email, or phone call) by mentioning their name so they know their gift went somewhere and meant something.

iDonate Text-To-Give Fundraising Features

  • Integrated text giving improves engagement with your donors by allowing them to easily give from wherever they are at the moment of inspiration.
  • Add text-to-give on top of other channels in a campaign, like peer-to-peer, with no loss of functionality to give your donors every donation possibility.
  • Customize your campaign with an assigned long-code phone number or our short code number, plus your organization’s custom identifier (i.e. @YourOrgID).
  • Easily set up an unlimited number of keywords for your donors to use for any campaign.
  • Create custom auto-responses for multiple intuitive donor actions including donations and links to more information or further actions.
  • All text-to-give fundraising data can be associated to an iDonate campaign or designation, populating in a unified dashboard. Filter by channel, designation, campaign, or customizable time periods for reporting purposes.

Ready to add Text-to-Give to your next major campaign? Contact us today to see how we can get you started.

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1 Statista: Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2018 to 2025 (in millions) 

2 Blackbaud Institute 2021 Charitable Giving Report Reveals Record Year for Generosity with 9% Growth in Giving

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