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Mar 1, 2021 3:02:26 PM by Nandhaan Verma

Collecting Text Donations: Everything You Need To Know


Collecting Text Donations_ Everything You Need To Know

Given that phones have become an integral part of our lives, it's no surprise that mobile giving increased by 205% in 2018

But traditional mobile fundraising (that involves users visiting a website, clicking on the donate button, getting redirected to a landing page, and making the gift) comes with its set of challenges. 

Nonprofit websites that are unoptimized for mobile, longer donation processes, longer page load time are a few such challenges that many charities still struggle with. 

To reduce drop-offs and reach out to more donors, you need a donation process that is:

  1. Quick; it shortens the journey from showing interest to making a gift. 

  2. Carried out over a channel people are comfortable with.

Text fundraising is the solution for that. In this post, we'll go over the different methods of collecting donations through text, and all you need to do to create a successful campaign.  

How does text fundraising work?

As the name suggests, text fundraising involves collecting donations over SMS. There are two to do that: 

1. Text-to-give

A classic  text-to-give campaign enables donors to give by texting a keyword to a shortcode. When they do, the donation amount gets added to their monthly mobile phone bill. This donation amount is pre-determined by the nonprofit and mobile carrier when setting up. 

The most popular example of text-to-give is the Haiti earthquake relief efforts (in 2010) by the American Red Cross. People were asked to donate by sending in the keyword "HAITI" to a shortcode and make a gift of $10. 


2. Text-to-donate

In a text-to-donate campaign, a donor texts a keyword to your shortcode. They are sent a link to the check-out page in response. 

Donors follow the link, fill in the donation amount, and complete the payment. The donation page can be customized to show options for donation amounts. These are just suggestions to nudge folks to give more (by leveraging the price anchoring). Donors can contribute a custom amount of their choice too. 

How to collect donations through text?

Now that you're familiar with different text fundraising methods, the next question is, how do you set it up?

Similar to any fundraising process, text giving comprises of three significant steps:

  1. Set up

  2. Fundraising

  3. Follow-up

Let's go over what each of these entails. 

Step 1. Set up

The first step to collecting donations through text is getting the right tools and technology in order. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Text fundraising tool- This tool will facilitate the entire process of fundraising. For a text-to-give campaign, you'll need to subscribe to a text-to-give platform like Snowball Fundraising or QGiv.  

For a text-to-donate campaign, you'll need a tool like OneCause. Alternatively, you can set it up using a mass texting software. A texting tool enables you to set up an automated response (with the link to the donation page) when you receive the keyword. The advantage of this is that you can use the same tool to nurture donors and for future communications. 

  • Keyword: The keyword is what the prospects will text to convey their interest in donating. It's recommended to select a unique keyword for different campaigns as it makes measuring success easier. But, you can also set a universal keyword for all your campaigns. 

For example, Convoy for Hope used "CONVOY" as their keyword for their Hurricane Harvey response efforts. 



Source: Twitter


  • Shortcode: This is the number that prospects will send the keyword to (50555 in the example above). The shortcode generally remains the same for all campaigns as it helps make your brand instantly recognizable. 

You can also use a standard long code (like 312-313-1800) for your text fundraising campaigns. However, it's not highly recommended as it is less memorable and increases the complexity of giving. 

  • Link to your donation form (only for text-to-donate): This is the form you redirect donors to for the payment. You can either create a simple mobile landing page for this or use your existing donation page.  

Once you have all of this in order, you can move to the next step.

Step 2. Fundraising

The fundraising aspect of text donations is relatively straightforward and comprises of the following:

  • Crafting the right message prompts: This includes the message sent in response to the keyword. Often, even when people express their interest, there is a chance they may not go through with their initial impulse. Hence it's crucial to craft a message that encourages them to complete the process. 

Keep in mind that you may not be able to change the standard automated response in some text-to-give platforms. In text-to-donate tools (or mass texting tools), it's easier to customize the responses as and when required. Here’s an example of how the conversation would look like: 



  • Promoting the fundraiser: After setting everything up, you need to reach out to people to let them know that they can donate via texts. Market the fundraiser through social media, emails, and on your website. Organizations also put up promotional posters in high traffic areas. 


Source: Pinterest

  • Tracking the donations: Tracking the number of people who express interest against those who complete the donation is an excellent way to measure success. A high drop-off rate may indicate issues with the donation process or the messaging that you’ll need to fix. 

For both types of campaigns, you can track these numbers in the respective platforms' analytics dashboards. 

Step 3. Follow-up

The follow-up consists of donor recognition and nurturing, which is critical for donor retention. It is as essential as the fundraising process, and most organizations often ignore it when collecting donations through text. 

The first follow-up message, after the donation, should be a personalized thank you text. Not acknowledging their gift is one of the top reasons why donors leave, and you don't want that happening. 

You can club the thank you message or follow-up on that in the following ways to nurture donors:

  • Collect more data on donors: You can set up an automated text survey that sends message prompts to donors to collect more details about them. Apart from engaging the donor in a conversation, the data you collect will come in handy to personalize future messages and appeals to them. 

  • Ask them to share the message forward: Another way to win donor loyalty is by getting them more closely involved with the organization and making them your advocates.

Ask them if they would like to spread the word with their network. If they respond positively, send them a well-crafted promotional message encouraging people to donate. This would also help you increase your donor base.  

Keep in mind that these steps may not be possible with a text-to-give platform. Very few tools allow you to edit thank-you messages and almost none of them provide any donor data. 

However, with text-to-donate, you have a chance to capture data on the donation page form and use that to follow-up.  

Key Takeaway 

Donors are the center of a nonprofit organization. Ensuring a pleasant donating experience is critical in keeping them motivated to give. Text fundraising ensures that by enabling them to donate over a channel they are comfortable with

Moreover, collecting donations through text is not limited to one type of fundraising method  and can be integrated with different types of campaigns, including fundraising events, social media fundraisers, etc. 

That could make all the difference in organizing a successful fundraiser. 

Guest Author- Nandhaan Verma

Nandhaan is a content marketer at CallHub, an outreach platform that connects organizations with their supporters through voice and text messages. Apart from writing, he also dabbles in social media marketing. When he is not writing or creating social media posts, you can find him cycling around the city or volunteering at the dog shelter.