hands-coffee-smartphone-technologyNearly 72% of the entire world’s population owns a mobile phone, and 97% of us send or receive one or more texts each day, easily making text messaging the most used app, worldwide. Texting isn’t just a popular way to communicate with others, it’s also becoming an increasingly common way to make payments.

According to data from NeonCRM, the average donation made through text-to-give campaigns is $107. This figure is just shy of the $128 that nonprofits typically receive, on average, from each online contribution supporters make with a credit card. While text-to-give is growing in popularity, it has several drawbacks that NFPs should consider before adding it to their list of payment options.

It Can be Expensive

Most text-to-give platforms come with various service fees and charges that you will need to pay to be able to get started. First, there will be the cost of the software itself, and, there are additional charges from the payment processor that you will use to handle each transaction. There may also be hidden vendor fees that your supplier may charge for hosting, data management, integration with your database, as well as charges for setup, upkeep and training. Some vendors will require you to create your own unique short code to facilitate the giving process, which can be as much as $10,000 for each one!

There are some steps that you can take to reduce the expense of text-to-give. Make sure that you are aware of all costs before you choose a software and service provider.

Tips to Reduce the Cost

Instead of hiring an SMS expert, look for options that offer self-service, and that will allow you to begin with a starter plan that offers tiered upgrades so that your service will grow as your opt-in list for text expands. Use a unique keyword that you will use for a shared short or long code for greater savings.

Look for plans that have features such as CRM, list segmentation, reporting and easy opt-in widgets already built in so that you don’t have to pay extra for these very necessary benefits! Avoid plans and providers that restrict giving to $10 to make your fundraising campaigns worthwhile.

Difficult to Build Engagement

Text-to-give campaigns make it easy for donors to make contributions, but, these types of automated payments typically don’t offer NFPs a way to interact with the donor directly. The donor simply sends a text with the appropriate hashtag or keyword to give. This means that the supporter makes their donation without first visiting your website or landing page where they would have the opportunity to learn more about your cause, or even sign up to receive newsletters and other updates from your nonprofit. While some platforms may redirect donors to the NFP’s site, these extra steps may be just enough of a hassle that some prospective donors will abandon the process before they complete the transaction.

Choose a Provider that Will Give You an Opportunity to Build

At a minimum, try to go with providers and plans that will ask your contributors at least for their name, email and donation amount, and ask that they forward this information to you. In this way, you can at least send donors who contribute via text an email thanking them for their donation and offer them the opportunity to visit your website, and opt-in for future communications and give your NFP an opening to create and build a relationship with the donor.

Ineffective for Encouraging Recurrent Giving

When designing your donation forms on your online giving page, you can ask contributors to consider making their donation a recurring gift. In addition to limiting your chance to build engagement, many text-to-give providers fail to suggest or offer recurring gifts as an option for donors that give via text.

The only way that you can overcome this drawback is if your provider offers a way to capture and then give you the donor’s email address. Once you have their email address, there is still a chance that your donor will decline to deepen the connection between themselves and your nonprofit.

Text-to-Give is Best Used as an Add-On to Existing Fundraising and Communications Campaigns

Rather than seeking to replace your current fundraising activities, text-to-give is best used as an expansion of your existing options. Rather than using an all-or-nothing approach, texting, in general, can augment all your campaigns when you use it to boost the reach of your messaging.

For example, you could use it to send an instant message to post updates that will build excitement during live events, such as a challenge offering matching pledges up to a certain amount and include your text-to-give hashtag. Send reminders to your members about upcoming meetings and other special events, or, forward a text thanking your regular donors for the month and include your text-to-give shared code in the message.  Create short, personalised notes to your top supporters on a regular basis to show your appreciation and make them feel more involved with your daily activities. Closeout these tweets with your giving hashtag tag or code.