4 Ways to Quickly Grow Your Nonprofit's Text Messaging List
With email deliverability hurdles and cluttered inboxes, text messaging provides an alternate way to quickly reach donors and constituents. As a nonprofit prepares to launch a text messaging program, one of the first priorities is growing its list.
Here are four ways to quickly grow your nonprofit’s text messaging list.
1. Contact Donors Who Gave Their Phone Number
To send broadcast — or mass — text messages, nonprofits have a different threshold for consent than for-profit companies under the Telephone Communications Protection Act (TCPA). For-profit companies need someone to specifically opt in to receive texts. Conversely, nonprofits can text donors who’ve given them their phone number at some point — even if it wasn’t specifically to receive text messages.
This flexibility is because the TCPA recognizes that nonprofits exist as a charitable entity and have a previous relationship with their donors that includes ongoing communications of donation impact and ways to support the nonprofit.
In order to be exempt from the standard TCPA consent guidelines, nonprofit texts need to be explicitly related to the nonprofit’s mission. Examples of this may include donation asks, charity event invitations, surveys, quizzes, donor updates and other mission-related messages, but consult your legal counsel to ensure you’re compliant.
What this means is — if they choose to — nonprofits can send broadcast texts to their donors with phone numbers. Nonprofits also don’t need to determine which phone numbers are mobile or landlines — text messaging platforms can differentiate those.
Should a nonprofit decide to text donors, it’s important that a texting program is used to cultivate donors and provide value — and not always ask for donations. The initial texts to donors should be personalized (“Mary, as a past supporter …”), include why a donor will be receiving texts (e.g. “keep you updated on the impact of gifts”) and make it very easy to opt out.
On average, about 85% of donors will continue with a nonprofit’s text program after receiving initial messages. Of those donors who remain, segmenting texts by donor audiences increases text message return on investment — much like other fundraising channels.
2. Include Text Opt-In on Donation, Event and Email Sign-Up Forms
Including text message opt-in on donation, event and email sign-up forms will add a steady flow of new subscribers to your text messaging list. When you add the option to sign up for texts on these forms, it’s important to include opt-in disclaimer language approved by phone carriers. This language helps set expectations, build trust and keep your texting program compliant with phone carriers.
By collecting text subscribers on these forms, you’ll add some of your most important and engaged audiences into your texting program — donors, as well as event and email registrants. Smart list growth is about leveraging the opportunities where you are already engaging and collecting information.
And, once you have new mobile subscribers, use texts to send a welcome series to new donors and event registrants. Rather than just using email for your welcome series, texts ensure more of those messages will be opened. 99% of text messages are opened compared to just 22% of nonprofit emails.
3. Convert Social Followers to Text Subscribers
Nonprofits regularly try to convert social followers to email subscribers. However, even when they do, it can be a challenge to keep them engaged long term. Converting social followers to a higher-engagement channel, like text messaging, ensures more communications will be opened.
If your text messaging program uses a five- or six-digit shortcode (e.g. 12345), it’s easier to convert followers to text subscribers. Simply ask followers — and even even attendees — to text a keyword (e.g. “join”) to that shortcode and they’ll automatically be added to your texting list. That’s easier than asking them to text a keyword to a 10-digit longcode (10DLC) number (e.g. 123-456-7890). Shortcodes are simply more convenient for a user and make it easier to acquire subscribers.
4. Ask Email Subscribers to Join Text Messaging Program
For donors who don’t check email as often or have cluttered inboxes, text messages may be a better way to hear about a nonprofit’s timely updates. Even people who have traditionally responded to email recognize that inbox overload is a real thing these days.
Giving email subscribers the option to also hear from you via text message helps meet them where they are and fit into their busy lives. On average, people check their mobile phone 58 times each day. An Operation Underground Railroad email inviting recipients to join the text messaging program resulted in 500 new texting subscribers.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Mike Snusz brings 20 years of digital fundraising experience to his role as director of nonprofit customer experience at Tatango. Today, Mike closely partners with Tatango's nonprofit customer to maximize the impact text marketing can have to further their mission.
Prior to Tatango, Mike spent 15 years at Blackbaud, leading a team of digital consultants focused on increasing nonprofit fundraising. Mike started his nonprofit career managing the Ride For Roswell in 2003.