With the rise of the smartphone and its ability to be the computer for millions of people around the world, mobile technology is becoming more powerful and less expensive every few months. And with those technological changes come changes of habit and expectation. One of the changes we and many others have commented on is the rise of text messaging as a medium not only to spread-the-word but also to raise funds for nonprofits and charities. The response to the American Red Cross’s texting campaign to deal with the horrors of the Haitian earthquake of 2010 is usually seen as the watershed event.
How has the nexus between cell-phone use and fundraising been strengthening over the last couple of years?
Convivio and The Network for Good have released a report that shows that appeals via texting are improving, and they suggest ways to expand use of the cellular medium for even smaller nonprofits. As for the explosive growth of giving via text over cellular networks:
Mobile giving is already outpacing the historically high adoption rates of online giving. In their recent report, “Real Time Charitable Giving, 4,” the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project discovered that one in five U.S. adults (20 percent) have made a charitable contribution online and that one in ten (9 percent) have made a charitable contribution using the text messaging feature on their mobile phone.
But text messaging can offer other means to communicate with your constituents and (potential) donors on an all-but-instantaneous manner. The speed and ease with which people respond to text messages offers the opportunity to keep them connected with developments and decisions at your nonprofit in almost real time. True, Generation Y/Millennials are the most engaged with texting, but the report stresses the fact that all age groups are expanding their use of text messaging and over 50% of those over 55 were aware of the Red Cross’s texting campaign for Haiti.Click to enlarge questions
Texting should be short and sweet, and with a clear sense of hierarchy.
Simple calls to action work best for the mobile constituent. For instance, you could provide a mobile-optimized form to encourage them to donate or participate in a petition or other campaign component. If you’re a community organization, how about asking supporters to photograph and report activities in their local neighborhood using Facebook, Twitter or other mobile-enabled social media? In your call to action, it’s best to focus on one or two key actions and prioritize them so that one is clearly at the forefront.
Which leads to the final set of considerations asked in the report: “Is Mobile Right For You?” Though it’s growing ever harder to say ‘no,’ the Convivio/Network for Good Report provides a great checklist of questions about what you want to achieve and what media could prove most beneficial to reach those goals. It’s not all about asking for money, of course, so consider texting as a beneficial cog in a well-oiled machine of outreach. Download the report to get further insight into the fundraising future.
Indeed, if your nonprofit or charity is using text messaging now, we’d all appreciate it if you would share your experiences of it has gone and what you plan to develop in the near future!