5 Steps to Profitable Text Message Marketing for Nonprofits

Scott Navratil

If you’re a charity or nonprofit organization, helping others is your reason for being. That said, marketing ends up taking up much of your time, whether formally or informally. Saving the world is expensive, and there are millions of similar organizations competing for every penny! Despite this, there’s rarely much money allotted for an impactful marketing budget. 

Fortunately, text messaging campaigns—sometimes known as “text to give”—are an effective and economical way to reach a lot of people where they’re at and exemplify the most critical marketing strategies.

1. Stay in Front of Your Audience

The good and the bad of modern marketing is that there are so many ways to reach people now, but oftentimes they feel bombarded. Email! Phone calls! Social media and PR! Ads that follow you! Long-held marketing canon has it that someone has to see something up to 10 times before they bite (buy, donate, volunteer, etc.) However, this rule was established in the 1930s; now that people can simply hit delete or scroll on past, the magic number is probably a dozen or more exposures.

Even in this crowded arena, texting stands out. Phone calls are great if you connect, but most people won’t pick up an “unknown” anymore. While a “good” email campaign might get a 10-20% open rate, text messages have an insanely high read rate of 98%—within three minutes of receipt.

There are several reasons why text messaging is so impactful:

  • People carry their phones everywhere these days, with the average American checking it every 10-12 minutes; two-thirds of us check it 160+ times a day. (Guilty!)
  • Although speaking with someone is more personal, texting is more convenient. Texts are an easy read and require little time. They’re a quick and easy way for friends and family to interact, and so people check their texts frequently (which benefits business senders!).
  • Most people have their smartphones and even their smartwatches set up to notify them when a text comes in, putting your message front and center.

Bottom line? In a crowded communications marketplace, texts stand out.

2. Make Yourself Memorable

Envision, for kicks, if you could run an ad during the Super Bowl—only $7M for 30 seconds! Pretty funny for a nonprofit. But what if you could share a video with all your hottest prospects and donors, uninterrupted by touchdowns, beer, or nachos? And, oh yeah, without spending a small fortune.

Although most text messages are “SMS” (Short Message Service), which basically means just, well, text, you also have the option of MMS, or Multimedia Message Service: video, pictures, graphics, and audio! Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words nailed it, and video can convey a thousand times more yet. Instead of telling your prospects and donors the good you’re doing, imagine showing them. And show them the difference they can make. For a younger target audience raised on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram stories, this is particularly important.

3. Tug Their Heart Strings

Research shows that, rather than creating some compelling logic, you are much more likely to motivate someone or loosen their purse strings if you can reach them emotionally. This holds especially true for charitable organizations. Make them feel good about giving! Known as the “psychology of advertising,” there are lots of ways to tap into someone’s emotions, including:

  • First and foremost, subject matter! Show the results of your charitable work (and not just stock photos)
  • Adjectives and other descriptive wording
  • Strategic use of color, bearing in mind that different colors elicit different emotions
  • Your choice of narrator; age, tone, and pitch are important, and while men are often seen as more “powerful,” women are seen as as more nurturing
  • Empathy and creativity

Of course, MMS makes all of these easier, whether one uses images, audio, or video. Another simple way to touch people more deeply? Include the recipient’s name or other unique information; it feels much more personal. And it’s easy to do with a messaging campaign!

4. Jack vs. Jill: Segmenting for Success

It’s fair to assume that a young male auto mechanic in rural Georgia, for example, might react differently to the same exact ad (text message) than an older female neurosurgeon and mother in New York City—yet they might both feel strongly about, say, drinking and driving reduction or cancer research. 

Text messaging makes it easy to split your audience in two (or three or four) and your message along whatever lines make sense for your product/service and target market demographics. Does your audience prefer to support locally? Use a long code campaign to deliver your message with a local area code!

With texting campaigns, A/B testing is just as simple. Not sure why one campaign had spectacular results, while a similar one failed dismally? A quick A/B campaign test or two will help you identify which elements work best with your donors, and which ones to avoid.

5. Don’t Use Passive Voice

Text messages are short by nature, so you need to follow up your emotional pitch with an immediate call to action. Be clear, avoid passive voice, and convey the urgency. Because electronic marketing (ads, emails, texts) are ephemeral, you need donors to respond immediately. Instead of “Your donations save lives,” say “Donate now to save lives.”

The big advantage of e-marketing? Use of links for volunteering or e-donations! Unlike offline ads such as direct mail and billboards, a text message link means your supporters can donate instantaneously, while they’re still emotionally connected. Chances are they won’t come back to it, so strike while the iron is hot.

Let’s Get Started

In a crowded field of competitors, text messaging campaigns check all the boxes for reaching your audience. And once you’re set up, texting lets you reach out almost immediately, allowing you to get the help you need when a crisis strikes. Platelet shortage? Encourage donors to come in now. Earthquake? Here’s what’s needed! Political crisis? Join our phone bank!

Ready to get started? Just one step left: Find the right Communications Service Provider (CSP) for your organization! Not sure you have the expertise? A good CSP will hold your hand. Look for a provider that:

  • Is willing to spend time with you and answer your questions every step of the way
  • Has a wide range of educational materials available to get you up to speed quickly
  • Can easily access the phone numbers you need for your campaigns
  • Offers U.S.-based expert support, 24/7

In other words, Commio is your trusted partner to get your text messaging campaigns up and running (and sending!) quickly and professionally. Talk to our messaging experts today to learn more.

Date posted: March 25, 2024

Topic: 10DLC Long Code   Messaging   Short Code   Toll-Free Texting   Uncategorized  

Tags: Nonprofit   Nonprofit messaging   text marketing   Text Messaging  

Scott Navratil

Scott, a member of our Commio team, has held executive management positions at several top IP communications companies and was named one of Colorado Business Magazine’s most powerful salespeople. He is a regular speaker at national telecom events. Scott holds a B.A. in Meteorology from the University of Northern Colorado. Scott primarily enjoys spending time with his family in Colorado and also enjoys skiing, snowboarding, racing motorcycles, and astronomy.

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