I have always wondered how this works. Its just too easy. When the tornado’s of April 27th, 2011 hit the state of Alabama, and the southeast, we were unaware of just how deep the devastation ran. Viewing the aftermath was hard to swallow – seeing the University of Alabama’s student housing demolished and families with no homes, no where to go, and worst of all, many with no insurance. Within days southerners were grouping together for the clean up, and on an even larger and global scale, the fundraising began. I know many people who wanted to get out and help with the labor but for a number of reasons, such as distance from the devestation, could not. That’s when the beauty of sending a text, with just one word, showed it’s massive power to reach millions and make an enormous impact. I am sure you have all heard of similar text messaging campaigns for various fundraising purposes. Even if you are a new, smaller, nonprofit who does not have a lot of history, there are options for you to explore when thinking about launching a mobile fundraising campaign. Below are 7 essential tips for nonprofits considering this great and easy to use fundraising option.
GIVE thru your mobile device, right here right now to your charity
Read on to start up a mobile giving campaign…
Know the Rules
The mGive Foundation has some pretty rigorous standards in order to approve organizations. Among the eligibility requirements, organizations must have 501(c)(3) non-profit status, file a form 990 demonstrating an annual budget of at least $500,000, have been in operation for at least a year and report all of its expenses to the public.
But what if you don’t have a half a million dollar annual budget, or can’t afford mGive’s $499 monthly fee? There are now solutions for smaller non-profits with shorter histories. MobiPledge is designed specifically for small non-profits, for example.
Another option is to start a text-to-commit program using a text marketing service like Momares. While it doesn’t offer the benefits of direct donations attached to constituents’ phone bills, it is a way for smaller non-profits to create fundraising opportunities through mobile.
Build Your Foundation
Successful mobile campaigns can do much more than just text subscribers and ask for money. Before you can think about fundraising, you need phone numbers. Use all of your existing platforms to ask your community for their phone numbers. If you already have a strong database, great; but you should always be thinking about new ways to gather this information. Think about asking through direct mailings or via your social media accounts. Add a widget to your blog or website where your community can opt in to mobile alerts.
Once you’ve collected a large group of phone numbers and organized your lists, you are ready to kick off your campaign.
Further develop a relationship with your subscribers. Don’t send an immediate request for money without first explaining your organization and your mission. You can start by appealing to your subscribers emotions and latch on to the things they’re already thinking about (like a special event or holiday).
Tennyson Center for Children, a Denver-based non-profit for at-risk teens, ran one of Snyder’s favorite campaigns. After building a list of numbers, they sent a text on Valentine’s Day saying “Happy Valentines Day! Our Hearts are with you and you have all of our Hearts.” Later that month, they asked for a $10 gift. Tennyson Center for Children increased their annual budget by 8.7% after integrating mobile into their organizations’ infrastructure.
Big events with big audiences are the best opportunity to solicit text message donations. Because text campaigns seek micro-donations, the moment your non-profit has its largest captive audience is best time to launch a campaign.
One of the first successful instances of a text donation campaign was during the 2008 Superbowl, when United Way asked for a $5 donation via text message to help prevent child obesity. Since then, mobile giving has been integrated into other major events, like the New York Center for Autism’s Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education in partnership with Comedy Central. For example, when actors Olivia Munn and Will Forte came onstage in the same dress, audience members could vote for best dressed. There was also an ongoing poll as to which type of milkshake — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — should be poured on John Hodgman’s head. Each text response made a $10 donation to the autism center. By the end of the night, the event raised $130,000 just from those texts.
Don’t worry if you lack the scale of the United Way (and the budget to buy a Superbowl commercial) or the celebrity connections of the New York Center for Autism. There are ample opportunities non-profits with fewer resources to capitalize on crowds — high school sports games, county or town fairs, and fundraising galas are ideal times to recruit excited donors.
Think Outside the Box
Mobile campaigns can do much more than just solicit donations. Mobile is a great channel to find volunteers for specific events or inform people about a rally. Organizations can also text bit.ly links to more information about their programs and where their work is being done.
One of the biggest challenges in today’s market is the risk of oversaturation. While we might ignore emails in our inbox, text messages generally have a better conversion rate. Snyder claims that 85% of text messages are read within 15 minutes of being received. This means that there is a higher chance your audience will read text messages you send their way.
Snyder warns her clients to strike a balance between engagement and oversaturation. The worst thing that could happen after you’ve acquired mobile subscribers is to drive them to unsubscribe. This can happen if your messages become overwhelming and unwanted.
Try to limit donation inquiries to once a month, followed by a message of appreciation to those who donated. Beyond that, only send one additional message each month, such as acknowledging a relevant holiday or event at your organization.
Know the Limitations
Mobile campaigns are usually simple, but that can be a mixed blessing. The no-fuss nature of mobile communication means it can be more difficult to collect additional information about individual donors. Most mobile campaigns also don’t allow donors to select how much they want to give. While this sets a minimum (usually $5 or $10) for donations, it also limits larger donations, unless users want to text you 100 times.
This article was gathered from mashable.com, written by Zoe Fox.
Thanks for reading! And, some food for thought, once you have built your network of phone numbers and contacts, think beyond. Now that you have this list of people who are willing to donate, probably because they are an advocate for the cause, don’t let it go to waste. Remember not to over-saturate, but use this list to inform them and promote other like-minded events and happenings in the area. Your local promoter will thank you, and in a way you are perpetuating the cycle of giving by helping him out!