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By using text messaging, nonprofits can easily send messages to a large audience on their phones, quickly and with staggering effectiveness. Nonprofits can use text messaging to reach out to their supporters and volunteers to raise funds, spread awareness about their cause, or even update their community about upcoming events.

Text Messaging for Nonprofits Diagram

Effective communication is crucial for the growth of any nonprofit. These organizations function based on donations and volunteer support, and it is important to keep all stakeholders engaged with regular communication. 

People today always have their phone within reach, making text messaging an instant form of communication. People tend to immediately read and respond to text messages, as compared to messages received through other platforms like social media and email. That ‘unread message’ notification is a powerful tool for engagement. 

Nonprofits can use text messaging to directly convey their messages to the audience over the phone while at the same time ensuring a high readability rate. Also, with the option to send bulk texts, it becomes easier to reach a large audience in a very short time. 

Nonprofits can use text messages for multiple purposes, from running donation drives, sending advocacy texts, communicating with volunteers, to running pledge campaigns. Here are five reasons why nonprofits should use text messaging for their communications.

1. Extraordinarily High Open Rates 

More than 98% of delivered text messages are opened and read within three minutes of receipt. They are typically shorter than traditional communications, making them extremely convenient to read. They are delivered directly to the phone, so there’s no need to enter a third-party app to read the message. And because they are delivered to a phone, it feels more personal (especially if the messages have some level of personalization) and this elicits more responses.

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2. Easy to Respond to (and Donate) 

Text messages are great for open rates, but done well, they can be very efficient for eliciting responses too. 51% of recipients reply to a text message within a few minutes, which is astonishing considering the response rate of a successful email is considered only ten percent. 

There are a few things that nonprofits need to consider when formulating messages, and some best practices to follow. 

  • Keep the messages short so that they are easy to read. It is more likely for a person to respond to a message that is easy to read and understand.
  • Having a clear call to action is very important when sending out a text message. This way the reader will know what they have to do once they receive the message.
  • Sending out personalized messages, like using the recipient’s name in the message for example, can help organizations better connect with their audience.
  • Provide an easy path to response. Is it navigating to a page to donate, texting back for more information, or something else?

As the organization grows, campaigning strategies change. By using text messaging services, it becomes easier for nonprofits to keep changing their messaging to see what works best with the audience. As the response time on text messaging is so fast, it becomes easier for nonprofits to track which campaigns are doing well in real-time and accordingly make changes quickly for a better response.  

Online A/B testing can take months. With text messaging, the results are within minutes.

3. Cost-Effective Campaigns 

Organizations can get huge bang for their marketing buck with texting services. Prices range from just a few cents per message, and they often get cheaper as volumes increase. Adding services like personalization can increase the cost, but teams often see a similar increase in donations to offset that. There are other ways to minimize costs too, especially when starting out.  

Local, Toll-Free, or Short Codes? 

Local numbers are the 10-digit long codes from which a huge volume of texts can be sent out. Being a local number with a known area code, this type of number gives the community a sense of belonging as they understand that the nonprofit serves in their area. Local numbers can support a high number of text messages at one go and setting up these numbers is easy, quick, and budget-friendly. 

Toll-free numbers are the phone numbers with prefixes such as 800, 855, 877, and 888. They are suitable for both mass texting and two-way communication. Just like local numbers, they are easy and quick when it comes to setup. Also, because these numbers are not location-specific, they can be used to reach a larger target audience from different geographies. However, they are more costly than local numbers. 

Dedicated short codes are 5 or 6 digit long unique numbers assigned exclusively to a nonprofit. These types of numbers support both SMS and MMS and are suitable only for mass texting. Being short, it is easy for the audience to memorize and type this number on the phone quickly. However, they are comparatively more expensive to set up than toll-free or local numbers. 

Savings on Labor Costs 

Using text messaging services can help save time on administrative tasks such as event planning, scheduling meetings, and people management. Using text messaging services, nonprofits can send out notifications and alerts for scheduled meetings in bulk, avoiding the need to directly reach out to each participant. Similarly, responding to supporter queries becomes easier and faster over text messaging as compared to emails or calling.

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4. Timeliness 

Text messaging allows nonprofits to communicate with supporters and reach out to donors instantly. It allows nonprofits to spread the word faster than any other mode of communication, while at the same time ensuring that the immediate readability of the message is higher than other communication mediums like social media or email. Also, due to its unlimited geographical reach, text messages allow nonprofits to reach out to potential donors situated overseas. 

It is more likely for a donor to respond to a text message because people tend to read all the text messages sent to their phones, and the response times for text messages is immediate. When working on an urgent donation appeal, it is easier to use text messaging to reach donors instead of writing emails as the response time for text messages is faster, increasing the chances of donation goals being met within the timeline. 

Through text message marketing, nonprofit fundraising campaigns can reach their intended audience efficiently and quickly. Usually, nonprofits do not have the comfort of running long-term campaigns for months. They usually need to get their campaign running in a very short duration so that they can spread awareness and generate funds during specific time period. 

Text messaging services allow nonprofits to launch campaigns in a very short duration by providing powerful tools to create campaigns. Nonprofits can create campaigns that reach a large-scale audience, generate awareness about a cause, and raise funds in a set timeline. Instead of spending days creating a campaign, there are typically pre-created templates included as part of the text messaging service platform. This helps get messages out there faster.

5. Building Better Relationships 

Relationships with donors are key to getting ongoing donations. These can be hard to create with large volumes of donors, in an impersonal world. No one wants a text message out of nowhere saying ‘hi we want your money’. 

Text messaging can be used by nonprofits to build better relationships with supporters and donors. Financial support is very important for nonprofits, so maintaining strong, continuous relationships with donors is critical. Many nonprofits have a huge donor database, but don’t utilize it enough. 

Using text messaging can help nonprofits by enabling regular communication with donors. This could be regular updates about causes or running special campaigns. These can be simple messages to encourage supporters to donate to the cause, updates about an upcoming event being organized by the nonprofit, or simply checking in. This is especially important if a supporter base is also the target group for support, such as a geographic area affected by a weather event, or a social group that needs assistance. 

Regular communication with supporters will keep them coming back and continue donating towards the cause. Using text messaging services provides nonprofits with a variety of benefits including increasing the donor retention rate, better customer service, and access to comprehensive reporting tools. 

Listed below are some of the common use cases of text messaging for nonprofits. A variety of different communications is essential to build a community and a relationship; asking for donations every time is stressful and exhausting for the recipient. 

Engagement for Events 

When organizing events, nonprofits can reach out to their supporters and volunteers using text messaging. Using text broadcast, event information can be sent out to supporters informing them about the time and venue of the event, or responsibilities can be assigned to volunteers. 

To ensure higher attendance at the event, nonprofits can also schedule alerts, follow-ups, and reminders to be sent to supporters using text messaging. Additional information like RSVPs can be collected through SMS opt-ins as well. 

Using a customer relationship management system, the information of the attendees collected can be automatically stored for future outreach. This can be done easily by setting up an SMS opt-in campaign where the reader sends in a pre-decided keyword to the phone number, which triggers the next message in the form of a question that leads the reader to share their name and contact details. 

Creating Awareness 

Text messaging can also be used to send out awareness-generation messages related to the cause they are working for. It’s also possible to send out updates about ongoing activities or new initiatives taken up by the nonprofit, which can help supporters feel more connected with the nonprofit and the cause. 

Mobilizing Action in Emergency Situations 

When calamity hits, every second is important. Mobilizing people for support and rescue in a disaster is very important, especially for nonprofits that specialize in disaster relief. In an emergency, volunteers and staff can’t sit and make phone calls asking people for their support. In this situation, text broadcasts prove to be very useful as messages can be sent out to a large group of people within seconds. 

Similarly, broadcast texts can also be useful in sending out alerts in case of an impending emergency. For example, if there is a wildfire or tornado approaching, text messages can be sent out to people informing them of the danger so appropriate evacuation procedures are followed. Text messages can also be useful in identifying disaster victims who need help. For example, people can be asked to text SOS in case they or someone around them need help. This way, help can be sent immediately to the people in need. 


Options like text-to-give and text-to-donate can help nonprofits generate funds through text messaging. This can be done by launching a fundraising campaign using text messages and setting a goal and a deadline for the campaign. Following this, a call to action message can be sent to supporters requesting donations. 

When using a text-to-donate service, nonprofits can send messages to their recipients with a link to the donation page of their website. Interested donors can visit this URL and give any amount of funds they want to donate to the cause. 

In a text-to-give system, a text message is sent out to the recipient with donation requests and options of different amounts of money he/she can donate, usually ranging between $5 and $25. Depending on their choice, the donor can send back an SMS with a keyword, like GIVE10 or GIVE15. This amount is then added to the phone bill of the donor and sent to the nonprofit. 

Once the fundraising process is over and the goal is met, the nonprofits can also use text messaging to thank the donors and inform them about the progress towards the cause to which they donated the money.

Nonprofits Need to Take Advantage of Text Messaging 

If a nonprofit organization has a need for any of the following: communication, organization, donations, community building, volunteer prospecting, or event execution, then there’s a need for text messaging. It’s fast, cost-effective, easy, and a great way to build long-lasting relationships with supporters.

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