Text-to-give vs. text-to-donate: Which is better for fundraising?

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

Text-to-give vs. text-to-donate: Which is better for fundraising?

Mobile giving is on the rise in a big way. Here are some quick facts that paint the picture: Mobile donations increased 205% between 2017 and 2018. In 2019, half of all nonprofit website visits came from users on mobile devices. And mobile giving transactions jumped 50% in the last year alone.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just millennials and Gen Zers fueling the surge in mobile donations. Text donors are most likely to married, college-educated women who are 49-59 years old (i.e., Gen Xers and Baby Boomers). 

It’s time to add mobile giving to your toolkit. You’ve got two options: text-to-give and text-to-donate. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to pick the right one. Discover the pros and cons of each fundraising method, how to start a text-giving campaign, and best practices for higher participation and more funds.

Is text-to-give the same as text-to-donate?

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Definitely not! Both text-to-give and text-to-donate tools require your donors to text a keyword (like “GIVE” or “4EVER”) to a phone number to donate to your cause — and that’s about where the similarities end. The biggest difference is how donations are collected, but there are other details that will affect your fundraising efforts. Let’s take a closer look.

Text-to-give overview 

With text-to-give campaigns, donors text a keyword to a phone number or shortcode (a shortened phone number usually with five or six digits). After that, they receive a confirmation message and their donation amount is added to their mobile phone bill. Donors can show their support without even pulling out a credit card or debit card. 

A classic example of a text-to-give campaign is the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief campaign by the Red Cross. Their simple, inspiring call-to-action — text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 and make a difference — ultimately raised over $43 million.

There’s a kicker. Text-to-give campaigns have predetermined donation amounts, which means donors can’t choose the giving level they’re comfortable with. Let’s say your goal is a $15 gift from 200 donors. You set the text-to-give amount to $15. If a supporter thinks $15 is too high, there’s no opportunity to win them back during the donation process. 

Something else to keep in mind is that each mobile carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.) may cap the donation amount, or how many times donors can text your campaign number. Another drawback? There could be a long wait to receive funds while each cell phone carrier processes payments. 

Text-to-donate overview 

You can think of text-to-donate campaigns as the modern answer to text giving. Donors text a keyword to a phone number, just like a text-to-give campaign. But instead of having a donation tacked onto their phone bill at the end of the month, they get a link to your donation page. (With Givebutter, you can also send donors to your exciting fundraising page or event page.)

From there, they choose their preferred donation amount, make it a one-time or recurring donation, enter their payment information, and complete their transaction. 

While the donation process takes a few seconds longer, it adds convenience and flexibility for your donors. 

Instead of being limited to a pre-set donation amount, they can go above and beyond your gift suggestion. (After all, the average gift by mobile users is $79.) 

Text-to-donate comes with a few other perks. Because you can send donors to your preferred link, you have an opportunity to tell your story and convey the impact of every dollar. Text-to-donate tools offer a wide range of payment methods and faster payouts. Finally, you’ll gather key donor data that helps you follow up, build relationships, and secure support for your next fundraising push. 

Your takeaway

To recap, both of these fundraising tools make it easy for donors to give on the go and engage with your campaign anywhere they are. But if you’re looking for the gold standard for text giving, we recommend a text-to-donate platform. The control over your mobile donation experience can’t be beat. 

How do you launch a text-to-donate campaign?

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You can launch a text-to-donate campaign without writing lines of code or signing up for another phone number. All-in-one fundraising platforms like Givebutter make it a cinch to send text messages to potential donors, volunteers, event attendees, and more. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for a free Givebutter account in seconds. 
  2. Tell your donors to text (202) 858-1233 with a keyword of your choice, which can be linked to your donation form, fundraising campaign, or event page.
  3. Donors receive a link to donate instantly via text. That’s it! 

4 text-to-donate best practices for a stronger campaign

Ready to add text giving to your mobile fundraising strategy? Execute your campaign to perfection with the following tips. 

1. Make your keyword short and memorable

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Your cause is unique, and your text-to-donate keyword should be, too! There are endless possibilities with this string of letters and numbers, but your goal is to make your phrase both easy to type and easy to remember. 

While it’s hard to go wrong with straightforward options like “DONATE” or “GIVENOW,” these options can feel generic. Try to brainstorm a few different keywords that get at the heart of your cause. For instance, if you run a nonprofit that provides young cancer patients with toys, you could have donors text “HAPPY” or “FUN2021.” 

2. Optimize your mobile donation forms

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Once your donors take the leap and click your link, make sure they follow through by providing a hassle-free donation form that’s optimized for mobile devices. Avoid requiring too many fields or asking for too much donor information. 

To raise funds, stick to the fundamentals: Suggest multiple gifts amounts — including monthly giving options — and explain what you (and your donor) can accomplish at each level. You can even display a fundraising thermometer on your page to show donors how far you’ve come and how they can help you reach that crucial fundraising goal. 

3. Promote your text-giving campaign far and wide

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If your supporters don’t know about your campaign, they can’t text-to-donate! Take time to plan an outreach strategy to promote your new text-giving option. This is especially important if you’re rolling it out with a specific fundraising event or campaign. (Check out these low- or no-cost fundraising ideas for inspiration.) Here are just some of the channels and mediums you can use to spread the word and raise money:

  • Your website
  • Social media
  • Email newsletters
  • Campaign flyers
  • Event T-shirts
  • Paid advertising

As we mentioned earlier, many donor demographics are open to text donations. It’s a good idea to take a multichannel marketing approach that reaches a variety of audiences. 

Another pro tip? Before launch, take some time to research any important legal disclaimers for your text-to-donate campaign. For example, "Standard messaging rates apply” or “You agree to receive text messages from our organization.”

4. Teach your supporters how to give via text

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There’s a healthy possibility that your supporters — both new donors and current donors — don’t use text giving often or at all. Even if they have, they may not have used your specific text-to-give platform. 

You can head off technical difficulties at the pass by preparing a few instructional materials, like a social media post, digital flyer, FAQ section, or a brief description for your fundraising page. Simplify the donation process down to a few key steps and present them in an easy-to-digest format.

The 411 on text-to-give and text-to-donate 📲

More and more donors are choosing mobile giving, and we aren’t just talking about the tech wizards! Text-to-donate and text-to-give services both make it possible for anyone to give from their cell phone, smartphone, or tablet. However, text-to-donate tools offer multiple donation levels, better storytelling opportunities, deeper donor data, and much more.

The fundraisers that start offering a text-to-donate option now — testing keywords, donation pages, and marketing ideas — will see the most success. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for our free donation platform.

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.