Asian woman typing on an iphone

Getting Started With Your First Fundraising Text Campaign

June 9, 2022

Getting Started With Your First Fundraising Text Campaign


If you’ve ever been curious about how to plan your first text message campaign for donor engagement or fundraising, our two-part series is for you.


In collaboration with Nonprofit Pros and UNHCR (USA), Prompt.io has taken the most frequently asked questions by nonprofit organizations and created two in-depth blog posts that outline the following:

  1. Sending your first-ever fundraising text campaign
  2. Crafting the perfect text message


In this post, we will begin with the essential first steps - why you should include a text campaign, some terms you need to know, as well as best practices.


Let’s get started.


Firstly, what are the best practices for donor engagement through text messages?


When it comes to fundraising text campaigns, the first step is to figure out what best practice looks like for you.

This includes things like:

  • Incorporating variety in your content so people don't become immune (i.e. your donors will tune out or unsubscribe if they’re being asked for money all the time.)
  • How many times you ask your recipient to donate across touch points.
  • The frequency of your communications with them across multiple channels.
  • Giving your donors a must-have resource that they want to engage with.


Plan out your text campaign cadence in advance and decide how text messaging can support your existing fundraising efforts.

What are the building blocks of a successful fundraising text campaign?

Text-based engagement for donors starts with the data that you have on them. 


This includes:

  • Who are they? 
  • What do they care about? 
  • How much do you know about them?

This allows you to segment your users based on content that is most likely to increase their engagement. 


Consider the ladder of engagement for SMS fundraising campaigns. 

You certainly don’t want to be making donation requests to a list that is not ready to donate.


However, when you're drawing out conversations via text, then you can identify the potential high-value donors, and the ones who are most engaged with your organization’s mission.


Once you craft a concise message, you’ll include a very clear call to action (CTA), which is also incredibly important.


Remember, an SMS feels a lot more intimate than seeing an ad on the internet or even receiving an email. It buzzes on someone’s phone with a notification, taking them away from the present moment.

The engagement you’re looking for is people responding and asking questions. or if they need help to reach out.

If you're able to create that kind of “humanity” and still use corporate language, you will stand out. 


What does a successful texting campaign look like?

The below example is from Emily Payne, senior manager (USA) for UNHCR, the fundraising US affiliate for the UN's refugee aid organization.


By simply tailoring the messaging to our audience, we saw a 300% increase over the year. SMS has proven to be one of the most successful channels for UNHCR’s giving campaigns. We started our SMS campaign on Giving Tuesday. 


We had a celebrity spokesperson. By enlisting them, we were able to increase our SMS frequency. (After all, who doesn’t enjoy receiving a text message from a celebrity?)


We normally send about one or two texts a week, but with the holiday and our spokesperson, we had a unique opportunity to increase it to three within a two-day timeframe during Giving Tuesday. 


Due to the nature of the holiday, the audience expects more texts asking for donations. 


Hence, we saw very high engagement and very low attrition. SMS already has high open and read rates, and when we had a celebrity spokesperson, we saw even better results.

Also, people respond to a celebrity since SMS has some really great responses. 



Organizations are running email campaigns already. Isn’t that enough? Why should they include SMS? 


If you do SMS campaigns well, you can really stand out and create connections with people that don't get high touch all the time, because they're not giving thousands of dollars every year. 


So, SMS is a really good way of creating strong retention by creating that sense of intimacy. 


Is text messaging better than email to reach younger demographics?


Firstly, it’s important to consider the mechanics of email. If you send a marketing or a donation email, it almost certainly goes into one of the other inboxes, like the ‘Promos’ tab on Gmail or the junk folder. Your list may not see it. 


To determine which channel is best for younger audiences, look at your email blast results and analytics. It’s likely hovering around 27% to 30% open rates per email campaign, and even lower click rates. 


If you have an audience segment that’s not engaging with you via email, they may engage with you via text. And similarly, others may engage with you if you call them.

It really comes down to your audience and their behavior.


So with this in mind, backed by data from your email campaign performance,  a shift to text messaging makes sense to reach a larger segment of your audience. As always, test to see how this performs for your supporters.


Are you able to add photos, logos, or JPEGs to text campaigns, like you can on email?


Yes, you can. Most platforms, including Prompt.io, support that, and a lot of organizations use it. 


You can add videos, media, audio, and images. You name it, it can be done!


A lot of texting companies mention terms like A2P and P2P texting. What does this mean?


Within the nonprofit sector, P2P generally means peer-to-peer texting, where each text is manually sent (and usually personalized). AP2 is application-to-person where you click one button to send hundreds (or hundreds of thousands) of text messages at once, commonly referred to as “text blasting”. 


To make things even more confusing, carriers consider anything beyond someone texting a few friends directly from their cell phone to be A2P (meaning that carriers don’t differentiate between P2P or A2P if you are using a texting platform to send your text messages). 


Which one is better to use: peer-to-peer (P2P) or application-to-person (A2P) texting? Will A2P feel like an email blast via text?


There's some data out there that supports the “spray and pray” approach of email blasts - but instead applied to text campaigns using A2P. The data shows that this “spray and pray” approach has some degree of efficacy.

This approach was prominent in the 2020 election because there is a ton of data to back up political parties’ fundraising donation requests. They know that they can send out certain messages that make people more likely to donate. 


The “spray and pray” methodology is in direct opposition to segmenting your audience, having a clear and concise call to action, and strengthening the relationship over time. 


It is one method that’s likely only effective at a certain size and scale. 


For smaller organizations, having a much more concise, targeted, and “non-email blast” approach to text messaging is incredibly important. 


Both email and text messaging allow you to send to a particular segment of your audience, analyze the results, and test. 


The same concept of testing variance within an email software also applies to text messaging.


How do organizations analyze text messaging results? 


To evaluate results, look at your metrics on fundraising, click-through rates, and attrition retention.

Ask yourself if you see more people giving via SMS than you do versus other channels, and what kind of boost you’re getting. 


Always compare similar campaigns. For example, don’t compare the engagement of an emergency campaign to an event reminder.

The best thing to do is set baseline metrics so you can continue to use and improve those. Remember to test, test, and test some more!

Finally, ask yourself, what is your goal? Is it to create more donations? Or is it to get more people into taking action? The results depend on the end goal.


Text campaigns are potentially a new avenue of engagement for your organization, as well as your donors.

Respect your donors and your supporters. Talk to SMS platforms, like Prompt.io, and see what would best serve your supporters and deliver a positive ROI. 



About Prompt.io

At Prompt.io, we deeply understand the unique needs of political, advocacy, and nonprofit organizations. 


We haven’t just read about it; we’ve worked in it. We have created the technology to specifically serve your needs.


We are well-known for supporting your fundraising and donor engagement text message campaigns with ongoing guidance and recommendations.


Hence, if you don't even know where to start, we’ll help you.




To learn more about how to start your first text message campaign, download our free guide “Five Tips for Year-Round Non-Profit Donor Engagement” here