13 Text Engagement and SMS Fundraising Ideas to Text-ceed Expectations

May 29, 2023
4 minutes
A colorfully filtered photo of a person holding a phone. From the phone are bubbles with text donation phrases rising up.

The phone rings. You freeze. It rings again. A wave of abject terror washes over you. Do you pick it up? Do you let it go to voicemail, which means (gulp) you’ll need to … listen to a voicemail? It stops. You’re fine. You take a steadying breath and sip your coffee. Next time, maybe, hopefully, they’ll send a text.

We’ve all been there, friend! We’re living in an era when most of us prefer texting to talking, emailing, or grabbing a two-hour coffee. That’s why text engagement should be a key part of your organization’s fundraising strategy. After all, 97% of Americans now own some kind of mobile device (Pew Research). And if that isn’t incentive enough, SMS messages have a 98% open rate compared to emails, which are clicked and opened just 18% of the time (Twilio).

If you’re pumped to get in on the text fundraising game, you might be wondering what comes next. After all, we receive A LOT of “Cathy, can we count on you to contribute quickly?” texts on a near-daily basis, and you want to differentiate yourself! Here are some ideas to incorporate text engagement into your fundraising strategy for a connected, efficient, and inspired year ahead.

  1. Host a raffle. The next time you get your hands on a truly one-of-a-kind item or VIP experience, don’t let it blend into the background at your next event. Instead, let all your attendees know that they can text RAFFLE to your number to get a link to a sign-up page. There, they’ll receive a bonus entry as thanks for their text engagement.
  2. Connect with your target audience. For younger donors, texting is a way of life. Text a personalized thank you to your millennial and Gen Z donors with a link to a thank you TikTok. You’re so hip it hurts!
  3. Promote your best auction items. Leading up to your next auction, advertise your biggest and best items by sending a short, tantalizing description at key times with a link to view photos. We’re picturing a rainy Tuesday at 2:00 PM, when suddenly, your network gets a text that they can win a getaway to Fiji!! Want a dose of escapism? Text WARM to view those gently swaying palm trees, those glasses of coconut milk sweating in the sun, that shimmering pool … Maybe they want to bid early?
  4. Reward recurring giving. Looking for a way to encourage folks to give monthly? Incentivize joining the Cool Kids’ Club by texting supporters a link to get a one-of-a-kind T-shirt when they sign up for recurring giving (or when they donate $X+).
  5. Give a shout-out. If you’re doing a 24-hour campaign, use texts to shout out major gifts or new pledges as well as any benefits those folks are collecting or direct impact your constituents will receive. It might inspire others to join in on the fun! (Just remember not to go overboard … no one wants an update every 15 minutes!)
  6. Check into events. Streamline the check-in process by sending attendees a link to your check-in page on the big day-of. And if you have two-way text engagement capabilities, you can set them up to check in right on their phones.
  7. Support P2P fundraising. Rally your P2P fundraisers by sending each person (or team) a special code that leads directly to their very own P2P page.
  8. Build team spirit. The next time you hold a race or walk-a-thon, set your participants up for a warm-’n’-fuzzy post-event experience. By texting RACE to your nonprofit’s number, they’ll receive a link where they can access a photo of them crossing the finish line in a blaze of glory.
  9. Foster some healthy competition. One more P2P text engagement nugget: P2P fundraisers can text WINNING to your number and get a link that leads them to the real-time top P2P fundraisers and fundraising teams. Then, they know how much they have to raise to kick the other fundraisers' generous butts.
  10. Sell limited-edition merch. If your nonprofit has an e-commerce shop, offer a limited-edition shirt, tote, or scented candle that’s only available to the chosen few (AKA those who text EXCLUSIVE to get a link to your limited-edition merch). You can also advertise flash sales by asking supporters to text FLASH to shop your store at 50% off.
  11. Send reminders. Once someone has committed to attending a rally, volunteering at your event, or attending a luncheon, texting is the perfect medium to follow up and send a quick reminder. After all, we all lead busy lives! If you have an event page, you can include a link in your text to ensure access to all the necessary details.
  12. Keep folks updated. If you work in an industry where the news changes quickly, direct your supporters to the latest must-know headlines. By texting UPDATES to your number, they can go directly to your news page and read all about it.
  13. Give to a specific cause. Personalize the giving experience with keywords that resonate. That way, supporters can text the name of a constituent and get a link to a donation form that donates directly to programs benefitting that constituent. For example, texting SIRFLUFF goes directly to Sir Fluff the Pitbull’s surgery campaign.

With all that text engagement inspo, we’re sure you want to stop reading and start typing! You can read all about Funraise’s Text Engagement features here. Now go forth and text for success!

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