Text-to-Give: How it Works and How to Get Started

Your next fundraising event could be more profitable with help from a simple text message. Text-to-give offers the most convenient way for donors to make contributions to your business, non-profit, church or school’s fundraising efforts because it lets them donate on their own terms. In our 2021 State of Texting report:

  • 58% of consumers said that texting is the fastest way to reach them; and
  • Nearly half of consumers would like the option to pay a business by text if it was done securely.

Below, you’ll find a quick text-to-give guide that explains how text-to-give works, including a few success stories and how to get started without using traditional text-to-give platforms.

How does text-to-give work?

Text-to-give (sometimes called text-to-donate) is a fundraising method that allows donors to make donations via their mobile phone’s text messaging app. The step-by-step process will vary depending on the tools and platform used to collect donations, but generally, it’s straightforward whether using a dedicated text-to-give platform or using a payment platform.

Step 1. Set up a text-to-give keyword for your campaign. The organization sets up a keyword of their choice (e.g., GIVE). Depending on the platform, multiple keywords can be created to correspond with different dollar amounts (e.g., Text GIVE10 to donate $10, Text GIVE15 to donate $15, etc.).

Step 2. Advertise the keyword and text-to-give number. Showcase your keyword and phone number anywhere your audience is likely to engage with you (e.g., social media, website, email). Depending on the text-to-give tool, you may be assigned a new phone number or short code that is specific to the campaign. Others may allow you to use your existing business phone number, which is what we recommend (more on that below).

Step 3. The donor texts the organization. The donor texts the keyword to the associated phone number and receives an auto reply text message to initiate the donation. The text message will include a link to the donation page or a link to pay within a secure payment platform where the donor will enter their credit card information.

Step 4. The donor makes their donation. Donors can either give a set amount of money or determine their own dollar amount.

Why does text-to-give fundraising work?

Everyone’s phone is within arm’s reach throughout the day, especially during the COVID-19 era. Our 2021 State of Texting report found that:

  • 64% of consumers have been spending more time on their phones (35% of them say it’s up to three to four hours more per day); and
  • 50% are sending more texts than they normally would.

Text-to-give campaigns reach donors directly where they’re already spending most of their time, and it makes the process of donating convenient. There’s no need to pull out their laptop or trek to their computer when it’s possible to donate money by text.

And texting in general is a great way to encourage repeat donors. A text is highly visible and the message won’t be overlooked like an email would be in a crowded inbox. Organizations can quickly inform their text subscribers about new campaigns or volunteer opportunities and even market upcoming events, all with the reassurance that their message will be seen.

How to promote your text-to-give campaign

Once your text-to-give tool is in place, you should advertise your fundraising campaign anywhere your audience is likely to engage with your organization.

  • On your organization’s website. Create a banner with simple copy, such as, “Text GIVE to 555-111-2222 and donate to those in need at First Seattle Food bank.” Add an additional call to action to “Learn more” that leads to an informative landing page on your website where donors can read all about the fundraising cause. Consider creating a quick video that details your campaign; it can double as content for your social media outreach.
  • Social media channels. Let your followers know about your text-to-give campaign with frequent posts and encourage them to tell their friends and family about it through their own channels. Personally reach out to any of your high-profile followers who would be willing to post about your campaign. If they have a sizeable network, your reach is amplified.
  • Email. Send out a dedicated email to your email subscribers, once at the start of your campaign and another toward the end of the campaign. You can also include a message in your email signature that can go out as a small reminder in subsequent emails.
  • Television and radio. Get in touch with your local radio and TV stations about your text-to-give campaign and how it will impact the community.
  • Your text subscriber list. If you have a list of opt-in text message subscribers, you have a built-in network of dedicated donors. Send your subscribers a text about your latest text-to-give campaign and how they can help.

Text-to-give examples and success stories

Sacramento River Cats and CBS13

The Sacramento River Cats and the city’s local CBS television station teamed up with Feed the Valley to help overwhelmed food banks in the community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The fundraising staff was small, so there was an immediate need for a manageable, simple and safe solution to request and collect donations from a high volume of CBS viewers and River Cats fans. They chose to use text-to-give via TXT2PAY for Zipwhip because of the payment technology’s protection standards and because it gave them the option to leverage Zipwhip’s two-way texting features across other areas of their business, including engaging with fans and facilitating ticket sales.

The River Cats advertised their text-to-give fundraiser with four different commercials on CBS13. The commercials briefly explained the fundraiser and asked viewers to “Text GIVE TO 916-376-4724.” The auto-reply message instructed donors to then text the keywords SINGLE, DOUBLE and TRIPLE HOME RUN to make $10, $20 and $30 donations, respectively.

The response was stellar. Both fans and CBS13 viewers raised over $5,000, and 40% of the donations came directly from the text-to-give campaign. They also used Zipwhip to send a promotional text message with a 15% off offer code to the River Cats team store. The follow-up text was a great way to thank fans for their donation and build support for the team.

Northshore Human Society
Northshore Humane Society is one of Louisiana’s largest 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal welfare organizations. They rely solely on donor support to fund their programs and services to animals in the community.

One of the organization’s dogs, Penny, had hip dysplasia and was in need of expensive surgery before she could be adopted. Northshore raised money for the surgery with a text-to-give campaign via TXT2PAY for Zipwhip.

The team texted their 15,000 text subscribers with Penny’s story and instructions to reply with different keywords associated with a dollar amount (e.g., SECONDCHANCE25) if they were interested in making a donation.

Donors received an auto-reply message with a payment request where they could either follow the payment link and enter their card information (first time users of the platform) or reply to the text with their unique four-digit transaction code (if they were a repeat user). Donors ended up raising the money they needed for the surgery, and Penny is now adopted.

Northshore Humane Society plans to use texting and TXT2PAY for Zipwhip to sell tickets to fundraising events in the future.

How to set up text-to-give:  Using  Zipwhip  and  TXT2PAY for Zipwhip

There is no shortage of text-to-donate services, but there are a few drawbacks.

  • Some text-to-give platforms bill donations through the donor’s cell phone plan. While it can be convenient to not have to pull out a credit card, it places a limitation on the donor’s preferred way of paying.
  • You may be required to use a short code or a new phone for your text-to-give campaign. It can be confusing for donors to keep track of different phone numbers, which could risk them dismissing your text as spam. Additionally, without using your existing business phone number, donors can’t engage in conversation with you via text.
  • You don’t get the full benefits of texting. Text-to-give platforms don’t allow for two-way texting; your donors are limited to replying only with keywords. Texting is a great way to engage with your donors. They can text you questions, you can share resources with them, and you can leverage text message marketing to get the word out about upcoming events or important updates. Learn more about texting-for-busines software works.

For your fundraising efforts, TXT2PAY for Zipwhip is a great option because of its flexibility. It pairs Authvia’s secure payment platform with Zipwhip’s leading business-texting software, allowing you to securely collect donations and have the added benefit of two-way texting.

Here’s how to set up text donations using:

Step 1. Sign up for TXT2PAY for Zipwhip. You can link your existing Zipwhip account (available to Premium users), and you’ll be able to try out a demo before confirming the integration. If you’re not an existing customer, signing up for Zipwhip will give you access to both TXT2PAY and two-way, conversational texting with donors on an existing landline, VoIP or toll-free number.

Step 2. Create your text-to-give keyword(s). Create a single keyword or multiple keywords. Multiple keywords are an easy and efficient way to offer dollar amount options (e.g., Text SINGLE to donate $10, Text DOUBLE to donate $20, etc.).

Step 3. Create a payment request template. Using Zipwhip’s Template feature, create a template for your payment request that includes relevant details to the donation, such as the donation amount and a description of the transaction.

Step 4. Set up auto-replies. Set up a few auto-reply messages that correlate to each keyword and/or provide a menu of keywords to choose from. The auto-reply following their response will include the pre-configured payment request template.

Step 5. The donor makes their payment. After the donor has engaged with your campaign using keywords, they can donate by tapping the link that’s included in the payment request auto-reply. If the donor is a first-time Authvia user, they’ll be taken to a secure webpage where they can enter their credit card information. If they are a returning Authvia user, they don’t have to follow the link; they just enter their unique four-digit transaction code to authorize and approve their payment.

It’s simple and straightforward. There’s no additional text-to-give app to download, the integration is easy to add to your Zipwhip account, and the entire process is simplified for your donor.

Learn more about TXT2PAY for Zipwhip and how to use texting with donors or sign up for a free Zipwhip trial.

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