If your organization hasn’t started texting donors, there’s no better time to begin. Texts from nonprofits have almost a 100% open rate compared to email, which only has an average open rate of about 17%. And text click-through rates are more than double that of email. This is true regardless of age. In fact, 94% of donors over 70 text on at least a weekly basis.
Text messaging presents a great opportunity to connect with your prospects where they’re ready to engage. While many organizations have started text-to-give programs, you can also build stronger relationships with one-to-one texts. Texts feel more personal than other forms of outreach, like email or direct mail, especially when it comes to larger gifts.
To be the most effective, you’ll want to incorporate texting as part of your overall fundraising and communication strategies. People who are active in a nonprofit’s texting program are 60-90% more likely to donate than those who only receive emails.
However, you don’t want to start with fundraising asks over text. Instead, start with advocacy and impact updates or petitions. This will set you up for success when you do make appeals, or ask your supporters if they want to learn more about major or legacy gifts.
Download the text message templates via the form to get started. This template pack features messages for:
- Event updates
- Impact updates
- Advocacy appeals
- Approaching an ask
5 writing tips for effective text messages
1. Keep it short, simple, and concise.
Most people won’t read a long text message. When texting your planned and major giving prospects, try to keep it as short as a tweet: 280 characters or less. They should be able to easily skim your text for the main takeaway. You’ll also want to keep the reading level simple. Emails at a third-grade level get 36% more responses than those written at a college reading level. It’s not hard to see how this would be the case for texting as well.
2. Include an image or video.
If you’re trying to engage your prospect in some way, get them to take action on a link, or text you back, images and video are a great way to catch their attention. They’re also extremely effective at getting your prospects to remember what you said. When you read or hear information, you only remember 10% of it three days later. But if you add an image, you’ll remember 65% of it.
3. Keep it personal and conversational.
Texts are a casual medium. Unlike an email, a text message feels much more intimate and your tone of voice really matters. In one-to-one texts, make sure that you use the “I” instead of the “we”, and write like you’re speaking to a close friend or family member. This will allow you to build deeper, individual connections with your prospects.
4. Use social proof.
When you do get ready to make an appeal or an ask of some sort via text, social proof is going to be the key for effective messaging. Mention other donors and how they made similar gifts, while still keeping it conversational.
For example, you might say: “Hi Julie, I know you donated $5,000 to the Wildlife Refuge last year. Thank you! I thought of you this morning after another donor from California made a similar gift, but in stock. She was surprised to learn that she’d save 70% on taxes by giving this way, and thought you’d be interested in learning about this as well. Are you free Thursday for a quick call?”
A message like this not only uses social proof of a similar donor, but it also educates your prospect and recognizes that new ways of giving might be surprising to them. Acknowledging this can lower any defensiveness they may feel towards more complicated forms of giving, and open their mind to new possibilities.
5. Tap into the curiosity gap.
The curiosity gap is the gap between what we know and what we want to know. In a short text, you can almost think of it like the subject line of an email. Pique your prospect’s interest by withholding key information to encourage them to click through a link or respond back to you. This is like pausing a story at a climactic moment. Just don’t overpromise and underdeliver. For example, you could say: “Want to know more about a better way to help the Wildlife Refuge?”