The Truth About Text-to-Give

February 3, 2021

Text-to-give is an expensive way to raise money. Direct donation via peer-to-peer texting is far more cost efficient and effective!

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Text-to-give encourages donors to text a dollar amount to a number and then that amount is added to the donor’s mobile carrier bill. A portion of the donation is retained by the carrier, and the rest is remitted to the nonprofit organization who solicited the donation.

In 2010, text-to-give software skyrocketed into the national spotlight when a fundraising campaign by the American Red Cross raised $32 million for hurricane relief efforts in Haiti. As technology continues to evolve and Americans become even more dependent on their cell phones, nonprofits are utilizing mobile giving to reach new demographics and encourage immediate action. There’s no denying text messaging deserves a place in every nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. The question is whether text-to-give is the best option for your nonprofit. 

Gifts are limited to prescribed dollar amounts

According to a 2018 Charitable Giving Statistics report by Nonprofits Source, the average online donation amount is $128. However, text-to-give donations are programmed for preset amounts of $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $40, or $50 through the Mobile Giving Foundation (MGF), the organizational element which enables charitable giving across wireless carrier platforms. Thousands or millions of carrier-billed microdonations can really add up, but you’ll have to settle for donations that are far less than the average online donation amount. 

You may not receive donor data

All mission-based organizations know that relationships are a crucial element of a long-term fundraising strategy. When you employ a text-to-give campaign, donations are confirmed through text message, and nonprofits may not receive valuable donor data needed to build a relationship. Because donations are routed through Mobile Giving Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund, tax receipts are issued by MGF. 

Application service provider keeps a cut 

Text-to-give campaigns are run through cell phone carriers and application service providers to create a seamless fundraising experience for the nonprofit. With every campaign, there are costs associated with keyword rentals as well as a transaction fee for every donation-- either a set fee or a percentage. These administrative costs can be pricey and add up quickly, eating into money that donors are intending to help causes that matter. 

Limited functionality for recurring donations 

While text-to-give can rally a large number of donors behind a cause, nonprofits are removed from the actual donors by carriers and application service providers. Most text-to-give platforms don’t have recurring gift functionality, leading nonprofits to miss out on potential ongoing support. 

Long turnaround to receive gifts

Since text-to-give is billed through cell phone carriers, nonprofits must wait until donors pay their phone bill to receive the donation. This can result in a delay of 30-120 days from the initial donation text to the receipt of funds. 

Peer-to-peer fundraising as alternative

Text-to-give is not the only option when it comes to mobile fundraising. Another way for nonprofits to use text messaging for fundraising is to make direct asks of donors via P2P or text blast, with asks coming directly from staff or volunteers. Leaning into personalized engagement via text allows nonprofits to create a fully branded, relationship-building donation experience without set giving limits. 

This method connects donors to real staff members or volunteers for a giving experience that’s personal and works with your existing online payment processing system to limit fees. As such, funds are available quicker, donation asks can be tailored based on prior donation history, and you gain additional data on the donors.  

Want to see how text-to-donate software engages potential donors? Text ‘Demo’ to (408) 676-2020 to learn about more effective ways to raise funds through text.


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