by Beth Johnson, Communication Manager, Salsa
Why does text messaging make a great strategy for building your list? Because it’s prevalent. Consider this: According to the Pew Research Center, 83 percent of American adults own cellphones, and three-fourths of them send and receive text messages. If you overlook this opportunity for allowing supporters to get involved with and advocate for you, you may well be forfeiting a nice chunk of your potential base.
Nonprofits are using texting to grow and deepen their supporters’ involvement with their organizations in a number of ways:
- Soliciting donations: Text messaging opens up some doors for communication with people who may not be interested in connecting with your organization in other ways. One part of growing a list is soliciting donations from people who are interested in that type of relationship with your organization, and text messaging may be a way to do that. These materials are the copyright of John Wiley
- Promoting advocacy and providing a call to action: Your supporters may be open to receive a text message from you with a phone number and a call-to-action. Many opportunities exist for this kind of support rallying. Include a clickable phone number for people with smartphones, so they can make the call immediately.
- Announce emergency rallies and/or last-minute events. Text messages are an excellent means of organizing people quickly because they make it easy to send people last-minute messages.
- Coordinate events: If you’re at an event where using a walkietalkie among staff members and volunteers is risky or challenging, or where cellphone reception for conversations is spotty, text messaging can be a real lifesaver.
- Send reminders for trainings and/or upcoming volunteer opportunities: Text messaging is particularly handy for those of you who constantly have a phone on hand. Another great feature of texting is that you can quickly get the word out when things change.
So Is Texting Right for Your Organization?
Of course, there’s no sense in using text messaging to build your list unless it makes sense for your long-term goals. In order to find out whether it’ll work or is working, ask! Check in with your donors, your volunteers, your supporters — the people who are most active in your organization — and find out whether they use text messaging and whether that would be a preferred method for them to interact with you. If it sounds like there’s overwhelming support from your base, then your next step is to make sure it’s realistic to implement.
As with all campaigns, make sure you have the time, talent, and resources available within your organization. Make certain that supporters specifically opt-in to text messages before you start sending them. Like e-mail, people may get very upset if they start receiving text messages from you without their permission, and the last thing you want is your supporters to feel negatively about your cause because of an error in communications etiquette.
Want to learn more creative tips for effective texting in the real world? There's a whole chapter on mobile in our free ebook, The Essential Guide to Growing Your Online Support for Nonprofits.
This new guide helps you connect and engage with current donors, volunteers and activists, and tells you how to reach out to new supporters using the online tools and content you’ve probably already got in place. It covers things like storytelling and choosing the best message for each medium, but also goes into things you might not know a lot about yet, like SEO, SEM and leveraging text messaging.