Deliver a Text Messaging Strategy to Enhance Donor Engagement
With the market cluttered and audiences’ attention spread thin, nonprofit leaders are always seeking ways to reach new prospects and keep donors engaged. For many, that means tapping into every outreach channel and strategy available — particularly channels that push messages right into the palm of your target constituent’s hand. SMS/MMS strategies offer nonprofits this unique opportunity, which is compatible with data collection goals and an ROI-focused budget.
Here’s a look at the benefits of text messaging and how to add the channel to your existing campaigns.
Enrich your nonprofit’s strategy with SMS/MMS
Improve visibility and response. Cellphone ownership among adults 18 to 49 years old is statistically at 100%, according to Pew Research Center. With such a ubiquitous medium, there’s great opportunity to reach constituents wherever they are at any given moment. Better yet, 55% of SMS communications are read. This figure is significantly higher than channels like email and mail. Further boosting its appeal, opt-out rates are lower for SMS than they are for email. If you identify critical gaps in your user journey, SMS is a reliable way to fill them.
Reach donors faster. The quick churn of news and trends makes timely communication important for any nonprofit. But organizations seeking response during humanitarian crises or natural disasters are particularly noteworthy beneficiaries of a solid SMS strategy. SMS programs are typically easy to set up and implement, so you can address issues while they’re top-of-mind for constituents.
Transcend age barriers. Even your eldest constituents have very few usability challenges with SMS. According to AARP, 70% of people ages 50 and older use smartphones and 86% communicate via text messages. The simplicity of text-to-donate is an effective way to secure donations and generate engagement from all age groups.
Understand your target audience on a deeper level. SMS gives you the chance to collect additional first-party data based on opt-in preferences, unlocking new potential to enhance the donor experience and drive donor engagement.
Overcome evolving privacy regulations. As guidelines surrounding how we reach constituents become more restrictive, it’s more important than ever to diversify the channels in your communication streams.
Integrate SMS/MMS Into Your Existing Programs and Priorities
Brand awareness is a great place to start with SMS programs. You have the ability to reinforce your organization’s mission and impact, all while making the need for support clear. Highlight the specific work and milestones you’ve achieved with help from donors and volunteers to build your brand’s story and create an emotional connection with your constituents.
Engagement is another crucial step in creating positive brand associations and remaining top-of-mind for constituents. Consider how you can surprise, delight or add value to their lives, avoiding any communications that feel spammy or irrelevant. Try gamifying small tasks or asking questions to boost engagement without a high level of effort.
If your organization relies heavily on event-based fundraising, SMS provides a simple way to share reminders and alerts about upcoming events, generating excitement and passion for a cause. You can even use SMS at the event itself to reach people where they’re already gathered, engaged and primed to respond. If peer-to-peer fundraising is an effective method for your organization, consider incorporating SMS appeals into those communication streams, as well. Your volunteers and advocates can share their personal connection to the cause and encourage philanthropy within their network.
With a sound awareness and engagement strategy in place, you can shift your attention to inspiring action — and there are endless possibilities with SMS as a tool. Recruit volunteers for an upcoming event. Share real-time instructions for material donations during a disaster to encourage a timely response. And most importantly, use SMS for fundraising. Send text-to-donate appeals during important and relevant times like Giving Tuesday, year-end appeals, or a special anniversary or occasion for the organization.
And finally, go the extra mile to gather more insights and deepen connections. Use SMS to send a genuine thank you, share a relevant update, request feedback or send a survey. Keep constituents excited to “keep in touch” with thoughtful outreach at the right times.
By adding SMS/MMS to your nonprofit communications, you’ll be able to make the most of outreach that advances the customer experience, reinforces donor centricity, deepens engagement and drives donations. With vast benefits and relatively simple implementation, this channel is not to be ignored as you fine-tune your integrated strategy.
Related story: Text Messaging for Nonprofits: How to Be Compliant and Engage Donors at Scale
Richard Heimsoth is the senior director of Customer Strategy at Merkle.