What was once limited to simple text exchanges, the art of texting has evolved into expressive and engaging conversations between people all over the world. This is largely due to its convenience and accessibility to virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime. There has also been a growing trend for organizations to use texting for a variety of purposes like sharing critical information, providing comfort and raising awareness around specific issues or causes. Texting is more than just a medium for communication, it’s a tool that has the potential to empower people and impact entire communities.
Here are four organizations that are using texting for good:
HopeLine Inc. is a confidential telephone service that allows people all across the United States to call during times of crisis. The top five issues that they address are: anxiety/depression, general stress, interpersonal relationships, suicide and abuse/victimization.
The organization recently text-enabled their business landline phone through Zipwhip to become more accessible to the public and provide greater empathetic support to their community.
Consider the following data and statistics:
- Over 50 percent of suicide texters are contemplating or having thoughts of suicide.
- Over 15 percent of suicide texters are considered emergency or highly lethal situations (5 percent more than on the phone).
- HopeLine calls emergency services for 2 percent of emergency texts.
- HopeLine has been able to deescalate emergency calls 87 percent of the time.
- Youth and young adults reach out on text more than over the phone (this is a higher risk category for suicide).
Initially, text conversations accounted for just 1 percent of HopeLine’s contact with the public. Within eight months, this number climbed to about 40 percent of all HopeLine contact. The data illustrates that in times of crisis, people may feel more comfortable texting than speaking over the phone.
Law enforcement officials have also found value in using business texting to improve the effectiveness of their internal and external communication, especially during times of disaster. Notably, during Hurricane Irma, the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) didn’t know how bad the St. Augustine, Florida, area would be hit by the storm, so the team planned for the worst-case scenario and closed their office doors. They ultimately relied on Zipwhip texting to monitor staff whereabouts, and utilized the keyword feature to send automated directions and directives throughout the entire hurricane event — even after the power went out.
Externally, SJSO has seen an increase in the number of tips that the public texts to its business landline number. In many cases, this is because people are more comfortable proactively texting in information rather than making a phone call to report something. Additionally, texting can expedite the sharing of knowledge, which is crucial during time-sensitive situations.
The SJSO team deals with a variety of issues, including but not limited to crime, narcotics, suicide and other emergencies. Since they first started using Zipwhip, their team has utilized texting to:
- track shoplifting suspects;
- monitor and diffuse suicide threats;
- stop drug rings; and
- locate and arrest reckless drivers.
Being text-enabled means that the local community can send screenshots of conversations on cell phones, or pictures of locations and incriminating materials directly to SJSO. This has proven to be extremely valuable for the police department because it allows the team to see threats verbatim, and be more accurate when they are looking for evidence within a specific area. SJSO provides better customer care and support to the St. Augustine community with the help of business texting.
DoSomething.org is a nonprofit, global movement of nearly 5.5 million young people across the globe who are making positive changes – both online and off. Much of the organization’s success is attributed to meeting youth where they already are (on their phones) and empowering them to take action for the causes they truly care about. The organization has also been successful with “educating through entertainment” in text awareness campaigns.
In 2013, Dosomething.org announced its Pregnancy Text campaign to start a conversation about teen pregnancy. DoSomething.org members pranked their friends by sending “text babies” to their phones to parent for a day. By the end of the campaign, members and their friends had changed about one million digital diapers, were puked on at least 63,000 times and helped over 130,000 people get a taste of what it’s like to be a teen parent.
By harnessing the power of texting to execute meaningful campaigns, Dosomething.org has helped raise awareness and funds for various social issues. They have successfully created a culture of youth volunteerism and activism through social change around the world.
It’s not just people that benefit from texting; animals can, too. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a global nonprofit conservation organization that works in partnership with foundations, governments, businesses, communities, individuals and more than six million members to reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on earth. It uses technology to inspire people to help support this cause.
Since its founding in 1961, WWF has been mindful of how demographics have changed over time, and how people prefer to communicate and donate. For example, the people who were sending in cash or check donations in the mail in the late 1990s may still appreciate receiving the WWF’s direct mail because that is the mode of communication that they are most comfortable with. WWF knows that Millennials are different in that they prefer to text rather than send letters in the mail, so they’ve added Text-to-Donate capabilities to their marketing campaigns. Having greater accessibility through texting means that more people can participate and help WWF accomplish its mission.
Sometimes people don’t have money to donate, but they still want to support a cause – maybe with time or other resources. In recognizing this, WWF has enabled text alerts to keep individuals informed on the latest conservation updates and other ways that they can help WWF achieve its goals. Texting is a convenient tool that has helped them optimize their efforts and inspire people across various demographics to take social action.
Texting is unique in that it is both safe and empowering. It provides some space between senders and receivers; it’s also very fast and gives people the oomph they need to be more forthright with information that they might not otherwise be comfortable sharing face to face. The breadth, scale and depth of all the ways people and organizations can use text messaging to connect with others is unrivaled by any other communication channel.
Do you know any businesses or organizations that are texting for good? Tell us who they are by sending us a text at (206)493-2024, or share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #TextingForGood.