Text to Give vs Text to Donate: Which Is Best for Your Nonprofit?

May 3, 2016
5 minutes
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Even if you’re a text-pert, you might not know the difference between text-to-give and text-to-donate. That’s why we’re breaking it down and setting text-pectations in this ultimate text to give vs text to donate comparison guide. Get out your phone, crack your knuckles, and let’s determine the best mobile path forward for your nonprofit.

What is the difference between text to give and text to donate?

The main difference between text to donate and text to give is that text to give is a quick way to donate a predetermined amount directly on your mobile device, while text to donate directs the donor to a mobile donation form (or other page), providing more flexibility and information about the cause.

Both text to give and text to donate start the same way, and that's probably why they're often used interchangeably. A donor receives a donation request (sometimes even via text!) and sends a text message to a specific number to make a donation. (Thanks, friend!) After that, however, the similarities end. When a donor uses text to give, they’re giving a predetermined amount, and that donation amount is then added to their phone bill. No need to shuffle around in the abyss of your pocketbook, searching for a credit card or debit card. It’s quick and easy for donors and convenient for nonprofits.

To kick off the text-to-donate process, however, donors receive a text that has a link in it to your organization's donation page (or any other page that you want to send them to). Sometimes it's in response to a text message they've sent, but most of the time, a nonprofit texts them first, the donor responds, and in either case, the donor receives a link via text. On the donation page, they can give more flexibly, donating however much they want and making a one-time gift or signing up for recurring giving. They enter their personal and payment information and are charged accordingly. It often leads to larger donations and lets you gather that vital donor data.

Text to give vs text to donate comparison chart

Now you know the basics, but in the battle of text-to-give vs text-to-donate fundraising, who truly reigns supreme? Check out our comprehensive comparison table below for an overview of all things text giving.

See the potential of fundraising by text with Funraise's Text Engagement

Text to give or text to donate for custom donations

If a donor wants to allocate their donation to a specific cause, both text to give and text to donate do the job. That being said, as a nonprofit, you're at the mercy of the mobile carrier's payout schedule, and then you've got to tag or allocate the incoming donations from the mobile carrier ... somehow. With text to donate, you can set allocations on your donation form, streamlining the fundraising process.

Winner: Text to donate.  While you can use text-to-give fundraising for custom donations, you'll make your administrative life much easier with text to donate.

Text to donate or text to give for repeat donations

This is an easy one, folks. We love a good text to give service, too, but it doesn't give you much to work with (or, more accurately, anything to work with) when it comes to recurring donations. You can't even count on getting text-to-give donor data so you can follow up later, asking your newest donor to give regularly! With text to donate, however, you can direct donors to your online donation page, where the option to give monthly is front and center. You can even include predetermined donation amounts to make it easy for them to bump that gift up a notch (and the likelihood that they'll give is pretty high, considering Funraise's donation forms have a 50% conversion rate.)

Winner: Text to donate by a landslide. In a text-to-give world, recurring giving just isn't part of the giving process.

Text to donate or text to give for impact

Let's be real: When you raise more, you make a bigger impact. When you get donations faster, you make more impact. When you engage donors, you make more impact. So, when it comes to impact, text to donate is the mobile fundraising method for you. That being said, text to give can still pack a punch. Take, for example, the 2010 Haiti Earthquake Relief text-to-give campaign, which raised $43 million for the Red Cross. And that was over a decade ago! The point is: when you do a text engagement fundraising effort right, you can effect major change.

Winner: Text to donate for sure, but text to give can also get the job done if you have a big enough donor pool.

Text to donate or text to give for engagement

There's really no comparison here. Text to give is a one-way interaction based on texting a keyword. The donor texts a keyword to complete the donation, and the relationship ends there. As a nonprofit, you don't know their giving history, their location, or their likes and dislikes. Text to donate leads your donors on a personalized mobile giving journey with engagement opportunities right and left.

Winner: Text to donate for sure. With the right text to donate platform (Funraise, ahem), you can engage your donors using text messages from the first tap.

Text to donate or text to give for costs

With any text fundraising strategy, you should plan to incur some fees. For both text to donate and text to give, there are processor and vendor fees. But with text to give, you're also getting carrier fees. Plus, unlike text to donate, which is open to nonprofits of all shapes and sizes, text to give comes with a few strings attached. Your organization needs to meet the Mobile Giving Foundation's criteria, which includes submitting an application and paying the accompanying fees. Plus, there's a minimum fundraising requirement of $500,000 per year. That's too rich for smaller nonprofits' blood.

Winner: Text to donate is a deal. With Funraise's text-to-donate platform, text engagement solutions are rolled into our single-solution software, which means you'll cut costs and boost donations.

Text to donate or text to give for branding

With text to give, the only branding you get is (hopefully) the keyword or code you're using. And if someone else using your shortcode has already used a code that you want, like your nonprofit's name or acronym, you're out of luck. Text to donate has way more opportunities for customizing the fundraising experience. You can brand each text-to-donate campaign with customized colors, fonts, and donation options (depending on the platform), and you can also send donors to a fundraising page that highlights your brand story.

Here's our vote for the best code for text to donate or text to give for churches, communities, environmental orgs, or any organization: GIVE. Simple, easy, always on brand.

Winner: Text to donate has it all when it comes to branding.

Text to donate or text to give for security

If a donor doesn't want a nonprofit to get their information, donating to a text-to-give campaign may be for them. It's fundraising secrecy at its secret-est because the organization gets absolutely no information. But you're a nonprofit that uses super-secure software (coughFunraisecough), so your donors should be able to trust you. And when you develop a trusting relationship with donors, text to donate is a no-brainer because in this case, security is all about optics.

Winner: With text to donate, you're getting all the security features that come with your fundraising platform. On the other hand, by using text to give, donors are just delivering more behavioral data to their mobile carrier—an organization that has no problems using or selling it for their own benefit.

Text to donate or text to give for speed

With text to give, it's fast for donors to make a gift to your fundraising campaign. One text, and they're done! But it's not fast for your nonprofit to reap the benefits of said mobile giving, and you're the ones we're talking to here. Text to give means that your donations are with a third party, the mobile carrier. And unfortunately, you'll receive those payments based on their payout schedule, not your needs. When you use text to donate, the donations are coming in on your own donation form (and if you're using Funraise, that donation form has a 50% conversion rate). So, you raise money, and then you get the money right away. Not to mention the data that you get with it. After all, why trust a third party to deliver information about your donors?

Winner: Text to give is fast for donors, but text to donate is fast for you.

Text to donate or text to give for flexibility

Text to give is a prescribed fundraising process. Once you choose the keyword donors can text to a shortcode, you're done with the creative aspect of your text-to-give campaign, and there's no deviating. Text to donate offers you the option to choose your code, customize your response, specify where you want donors to land (giving page? Mission statement? Fundraising event site? The choice is yours!), and on and on. Text to donate is about giving you the flexibility to create the textual experience you want for your donors.

Winner: Andddd it's text to donate again! With the right platform, it's a flexible fundraising tool that offers your donors a more customized experience.

Text to donate or text to give for emergency updates

When there's a crisis, text to give vs text to donate is a toss-up. The real key with raising funds for a time-sensitive cause is to get the message out fast, and given that the average person looks at their phone about 80 times a day, either text donation method will achieve that. With text to give, donors are likely to respond quickly because all they need to do is type a single word. It's also easy to spread the word in a peer to peer campaign format. Again, with the classic Haiti Earthquake Relief campaign, Red Cross raised all those funds because there was an immediate need, and they leaned into that. That being said, it's not really about when you receive a donation notification; it's about having access to those funds ASAP. And if you want to have funds available for the emergency immediately, text to donate is the clear winner. And tangentially, text-to-donate fundraising also gives you the opportunity to tell a story and send supporters to a targeted webpage that has information about the emergency, other ways to help, etc.

Winner: It's a draw! A text-to-give platform results in lots of small donations fast, but text to donate gets that money to those in need stat.

Text to donate or text to give for privacy

Some nonprofits handle sensitive requests when it comes to where their funds go. People want to remain anonymous, or they don't want others to know they're in need, and every nonprofit should respect that. When it comes to privacy, text-to-donate fundraising once more has the upper hand. We've already established that text to donate offers greater flexibility, with different codes that result in specific automated responses. So, if you need to allocate funds to a specific program or a specific program participant, you can do it, rather than funneling everything into a general fund a la text to give.

Winner: With text to donate, you can keep it secret, keep it safe. (Yep, that was a Lord of the Rings allusion. You're welcome!)

Text to donate vs text to give for donation amount limits

With both text fundraising options, you can accept unlimited donations (yay!) and create as many keywords as you want (woohoo!). And when it comes to text to donate vs text to give specific donation amounts, there are also no limits ... but it might feel a little weird sending a quick message asking folks to donate $1,000 by texting FURBABY to your animal shelter?

Winner: It's a tie. With both text-to-give and text-to-donate, the sky's the limit!

Text to give vs text to donate for ease of donation

If you only want to collect donations in one amount and aren't thinking about the long term, text to give does the job and makes it easy to give to your nonprofit. Donors just text a keyword (make sure it's easy to remember!) to a shortened phone number, that donation amount is added to their monthly phone bill, and wham-bam-it's done. But donation forms aren't exactly difficult to use, especially if you follow best practices for mobile giving forms. Funraise donation forms have a 50% conversion rate because of the added benefits, including collecting data from new donors.

Winner: Text to give by a hair. With text-to-give fundraising, you simplify the donation process by cutting out any additional steps. But text to donate is also simple for donors, and it comes with a lot of bonuses for your organization.

The winner is clear—it's YOU! Get to all with Funraise's Text Engagement

Text to donate vs text to give: which is better? Our conclusion

Text engagement is a fundraising win no matter how you slice it. But if you want our expert opinion on who would take it all in the battle of text to give vs text to donate, we have to hand the MVP trophy to text to donate. In fundraising, personalization, relationships, and options are the name of the game, and text to donate offers a multitude of giving options that help keep donors close. It's the ultimate fundraising tool for the modern-day do-gooder. So, give it a try and see just how powerful a few text messages can be.

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