Case Study: Looking to Text Messaging

Have you ever thought about text messaging as an effective strategy?  According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 73% of the 83% of U.S. adults who have a cell phone can send and receive text messages.  The survey focused on adults over age 18, and found that 31% of them preferred texts to talking on the phone (53% said they preferred a voice call to a text message, and 14% said the contact method they prefer depends on the situation).  Another survey by Lab 42 polled 500 social-networking Americans aged 13 to 21.  They found that in this group of people, 71% of the respondents preferred texting to phone calls. From this information, we can see text messaging as an important source of connection between your audience and your organization.  We have seen the use of text messages during natural disasters, and the ability to reach out and get immediate feed back and donations. 

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti for example, relief organizations in the United States and Europe were able to collect substantial numbers of donations from text messaging, or SMS, fundraising campaigns. Just like after the 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia, the numbers are impressive. Two charities alone, the Red Cross Foundation and Yele, collected more than $4.7 million by mid-day Thursday (less than 48 hours after the first earthquake hit).

For donors, the process of donating is simple. After texting the keyword to the relevant short code, the donor receives a text message asking him or her to confirm the contribution.  The donor often receives a thank you SMS if they say “yes.”  The Mobile Giving Foundation provides a main umbrella for nonprofit organizations and campaigns to go about this process. 

Although in the examples text messaging was used as a resource to ask for money, it could have other uses too such as providing updates or feedback on the donors donation, or relating current news surrounding the organization or the mission they support. 

While Facebooking and sending Tweets can be an effective way of communicating, text messaging is a direct source to your audience and can have immediate responses and effects.  Especially with the younger age groups that are more adapted to quick messages and direct information, text messaging can be an alternative use of contact and involvement. 

Published by The Fundraising Journal 2011



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