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The Power of Integrating Texting into Your Fundraising Campaigns

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Texting

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Text messaging has quickly become an important tool for informing, engaging, and driving action. It integrates well with traditional fundraising strategies and is reaching audiences you can’t reach as effectively with traditional methods. With read rates often hitting 98% in 2 minutes, text messages penetrate in a way no other channel can. 

Texting is also very inexpensive, costing pennies per outbound message. But unlike email blasts, charities can add an element of true engagement by having live agents standing by to answer some or all replies. This level of personal interaction between donors and charities results in deeper connections and allows donors to express the reasons why they provide support.

As Giving Tuesday 2023 fast approaches, charities have a chance to harness the power of this tool to boost their planned campaigns. In 2022, $50.5 million was donated online in Canada on Giving Tuesday and as more charities add text to their toolkit, we believe this number will only grow. 

At Stratcom, we have years of experience advising our clients on how they can integrate texting into their wider fundraising campaigns. Here, we explore some of the best ways charities can leverage the potential of this tool.

Cultivation
Texting is a powerful tool for cultivating your relationship with supporters and donors and using it can enhance the effectiveness of your fundraising efforts. Before telemarketing calls, a well-crafted text can be sent to supporters, priming them for the upcoming call and increasing the chances of a positive response. Additionally, after a telefundraising call, sending a thank-you text reinforces your appreciation and gratitude, strengthening your donor relationships. Texting’s immediacy and personalization mean this thank-you can reach your new donor long before a direct mail piece can.   

Engagement 
Texting has also proven itself to be a dynamic engagement tool for charities to maintain a connection with donors and supporters beyond their fundraising campaigns. By sending surveys and quizzes, you can gain valuable insights into your donors’ preferences and feedback you can use to tailor future fundraising efforts. Sharing engaging videos keeps your supporters informed, emotionally connected, and inspired by your cause. Regular interaction through texting ensures that your charity’s mission stays on their minds, fostering a sense of community and commitment. 

Fundraising
At key times in the fundraising year, like Giving Tuesday and Tax Time, charities leverage the day’s excitement or the upcoming tax deadline by making direct fundraising asks through text. Given these events’ need for timely action, text is one the most effective tools you can use because of its convenience, immediate nature, and ability to reach massive audiences. 

Texting is also a critical tool for emergency appeals. With fast campaign set-up times and high open rates, texts can drive rapid donor response and ensure swift support when you need it most. Imagine a charity shelter sending an appeal for donations on a cold winter’s night, warning of a surge in unhoused people seeking assistance.

Informing
Using text messaging, charities can easily keep supporters and donors in the loop. Not only is it a great tool for sharing updates about key milestones – like hitting your fundraising goal – but it’s also been used effectively by charities to send reminders about things like events and lotteries. Easily send a text to remind your supporters of the deadline to buy a lottery ticket or share your event’s registration link and know that these messages are reaching recipients like no other channel can. The uses are endless – you can even share your event’s location info so it’s easily accessible on mobile devices to help reduce any confusion day of!

Case Study: Texting for Giving Tuesday with the Alzheimer's Society of Canada – 2020 to Today

Description of Project
The Alzheimer Society of Canada (ASC) is a Canadian health charity that raises funds from donors to support research into Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and provide services and programs to people living with dementia and their caregivers. On Giving Tuesday, an annual event that recognizes the power of giving around the globe, ASC’s previous fundraising strategy entailed email and live phone components to solicit donations from supporters.

ASC sought to reach a wider audience of potential donors to increase donations and they were interested in Stratcom’s PROMPT.io text messaging platform as a complement to their existing fundraising strategy for Giving Tuesday. ASC and Stratcom first tested this integrated strategy for Giving Tuesday 2020. Results were promising, and as a result, ASC decided to incorporate texting as a channel again for Giving Tuesday 2021 and 2022.

Highlights 

  • 300% increase in donations collected via text message on Giving Tuesday from the first to second year
  • 2x return on investment through just two rounds of texting 
  • 3-8% response rate to text messages

Our Work
Step 1: Planning & scripting
Stratcom worked with ASC to develop the script for a series of bilingual (French and English) text messages from ASC’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, that were rolled out alongside ASC’s fundraising emails and live phone calls. In 2020, 10,000 previous donors and supporters of ASC were texted; this was increased to 15,000 in 2021, with recipients segmented by time zone to ensure they received the messages at their most suitable times. In 2022, the number of supporters contacted increased further to reach 26,000. Deloitte provided list management support and the payment gateway for donations.

Step 2: Roll-out
The first text message soliciting donations was sent out on the morning of Giving Tuesday. Recipients were prompted to reply with the keyword ‘GIVE’ to receive a link to ASC’s website where they could make a donation. A reminder text was also sent out in the afternoon to those individuals who had not yet donated. 

On Thank You Thursday, which occurred the first Thursday after Giving Tuesday, a follow-up text message was sent to all donors with a link to a video with a personal message from Dr. Sivananthan, thanking them for their donation and emphasizing the positive impact they’ve made.  

Stratcom’s staff acted as live agents during each broadcast and responded to donors who replied without the keyword, which was approximately 10%.  

The Results
In 2020, ASC collected $3,000 in donations via text message on Giving Tuesday; in 2021, this increased 300% to reach $9,000. ASC’s use of texting on Giving Tuesday is especially significant as the expense for these results was $4,000 in 2020 and $4,800 in 2021, marking a two-fold return on investment through just two rounds of texting. ASC’s willingness to experiment with new communication channels for fundraising, as well as their tenacity to try texting for a second time despite not immediately seeing overwhelmingly positive results in their first foray into texting, meant they were able to see a substantial growth and return on investment. This was likely attributed at least partially to their donors becoming more familiar with text messaging as a channel. Consequently, the return on the last round of texting exceeded the cost from the previous two years and established text as a viable channel for ASC’s future fundraising efforts. 

Response rates were also fairly significant, ranging from 3-8% in 2021. Over the course of the 2020 and 2021 Giving Tuesday campaigns, ASC also learned the importance of messages coming from a trusted person (someone donors had already heard from) within the organization and the links included in their messaging being short and credible.

Testimonial
“The support that Stratcom and the Prompt.io teams provided was great for the Giving Tuesday SMS campaigns. The Alzheimer Society of Canada was able to grow the revenue threefold from 2020 to 2021 and we applied the learnings from the first year the campaign was launched, like providing a link that looked trustworthy to donors and not just an app-generated URL. The script and project development from Prompt.io’s side was smooth and efficient, and we also received comprehensive and timely post-campaign reports. We look forward to doing the Giving Tuesday SMS campaign again this year.”
-    Raúl Ríos-Sosa, Manager, One-Time Giving, Alzheimer Society of Canada

Author Information

An Introduction to Stratcom
For over 25 years, Stratcom has been building a track record of executing successful telefundraising and text campaigns for many of Canada’s most prominent charities and non-profits. We combine our passion and extensive experience in non-profit and charitable fundraising to create and implement integrated and innovative individual donor fundraising strategies that build revenue and strengthen donor relationships.

Our expertise in integrating all the elements of a fundraising program ensures that our clients’ programs deliver top results. We were among the first agencies in the industry to recognize the importance of monthly donor programs. Where appropriate, we integrate donor research to determine the best ways to approach your donors and maximize results. This research enhances your fundraising strategies allowing you to maximize the value of your donor file.

We were among the first agencies in the industry to implement combined techniques of direct mail, telefundraising, email, and voice message campaigns. Through ongoing testing, we have learned how these tools can be best used to enhance the performance of a fundraising program. Most recently, we have been working with charities and non-profits to integrate texting into their fundraising campaigns to broaden their reach, improve donor stewardship, and ultimately increase donations.

If you’re interested by the possibilities of text for your charity and would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at digital@stratcom.ca. We look forward to sharing more about texting for charities with you soon. 

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