Digital Must-Haves for Fall Fundraising Success Part 6: Mobile Messaging
Editor’s note: this post was originally published in October 2020 and was last updated in August 2022.
It’s never too early to start planning for your nonprofit’s GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising efforts. In this six-part blog series, we’re highlighting key digital features your organization can start implementing now to boost fundraising this fall. Last week, we went over digital advocacy forms. This week’s sixth and final topic: mobile messaging.
What is mobile messaging?
Many of us know mobile messaging as texting, or if we’ve been using it long enough, as SMS (short messaging service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service.) Instead of picking up the phone to call a friend, we might text them an address or a date and time to meet up for lunch or a volunteer shift. Texting is a unique channel because it’s immediate; it’s useful for sharing information and links to websites; and most of us carry it around with us in our pockets.
Why should nonprofits use mobile messaging?
Mobile messaging is becoming an increasingly popular communication channel for nonprofits. Back in 2019, the Pew Research Center found that the majority of Americans owned a smartphone, and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it’s a safe bet that folks have only gotten more smartphone-savvy.
Mobile messaging is a useful part of a multi-channel fundraising and engagement strategy, given the state of email and direct mail. Email inboxes are often crowded, and major players in the tech sector have made changes in the recent past that affect the way we understand open rates. What this means for nonprofit fundraisers is that a successful email campaign now requires more effort from creative teams to craft messaging that drives subscribers to not only open your message, but also to click through and convert. The direct mail fundraising landscape is also complicated, given supply chain shortages and increasing costs. However, 90 percent of text messages are read within only three minutes of being received. This makes mobile messaging a useful addition to your other fundraising and engagement efforts.
If your nonprofit is looking for more reasons to dial in on mobile messaging, M+R’s Benchmarks report has found that texting is growing in the nonprofit sphere—these are just a few key points from 2021’s report:
- SMS audience sizes grew by 26 percent over the previous year—much faster growth than email audience sizes.
- The click-through rate for mobile fundraising messages was 6.3 percent, and 10 percent for mobile advocacy messages.
- On average, nonprofits had 50 mobile list members for every 1,000 email subscribers.
How can my nonprofit get the most out of mobile messaging?
Texting is a digital channel that nonprofits of all sizes can use to quickly and effectively reach supporters right where they are, across programs like advocacy, fundraising, volunteering, and membership.
One common priority for many advocacy program managers is rapid response—and what’s more rapid than texting? You can make sure that when a decision is handed down, a bill is passed, or an election is decided, you’re primed to engage your supporters right then with a message that meets the moment. Mobile messaging in EveryAction allows you to use emojis and photos to demonstrate tone and convey an urgent message in a streamlined way, and you can include links to advocacy forms so your supporters can take an action like signing a petition and then easily share it with their friends. And, of course, once you’ve successfully contacted your supporters and helped them channel their energy into your cause, you can make sure that data about the actions they took with you rolls up into your unified or highly-integrated CRM so you can use it in future messages.
As digital fundraising continues to grow, texting can help you contact the right supporters, with the right messages, at precisely the right times. The urgency and immediacy of mobile messaging can be especially useful when your goal is to channel a viral moment, a holiday like GivingTuesday, or a wave of rage philanthropy into strategic support for the long term.
You can use mobile messaging to link to mobile-optimized donation pages, which you can design and customize so donors know exactly who they’re donating to every step of the way. Once supporters click through to your donation page, you can make sure they’re served with a form that has other great features like dynamic ask strings, Cover Costs, and one-click donations. You could even use sustainer upsell lightboxes if growing your recurring giving program or even taking a sustainer-first approach is your goal. If you’re doing mobile messaging in EveryAction, you can also plug in tailored data like your donors’ first names or most recent contribution amounts. Lastly, mobile messaging is a great way to say thank you immediately and sincerely—and that kind of consistency is an important part of stewarding donors for retention.
To make your volunteer program as effective as possible, you’ve probably set goals like growing your volunteer base and reducing your flake rate. Your nonprofit platform and communication channels like mobile messaging can help you meet those goals by delivering reminders at important times. Texting can be a great way to remind your volunteers about shifts they’ve signed up for, where to show up, and what to bring, as well as anything they might need to do in advance of their shift like updating their MiniVAN app or locating their password. Mobile messaging can also help your most dedicated volunteers invite their friends along—we’ve learned that more than 20 percent of supporters that have taken action through Mobilize have come from one of our bring-a-friend features, so take advantage of those connections!
Building a membership program is all about building relationships, and your staff deserve to spend more of their time on interpersonal work instead of on wrangling data or technology. In practice, that means you can use mobile messaging to send regular, automated reminders about actions you’d like members to take, plus time-sensitive asks like membership renewals. When the time comes for them to renew, you can use texting to direct your members to self-service pages where they can manage and update their own information—saving both your staff and your members time.
No matter your mission, every nonprofit goes through periods when communicating with different supporter audiences is urgent. Mobile messaging is a natural fit for those moments—plus, as a channel that can easily be combined with other tools, it can help you maximize the effort you put into your campaigns and programs.
Whether your texting program is still in its infancy and you’re focused on driving supporters to opt in, or you’re a seasoned mobile messaging pro, mobile messaging can help you increase supporter engagement, drive more action, and raise more money for your mission. Get a demo to see how mobile messaging can support your organization’s multi-channel strategy.