Steward your donors with SMS

There are settings on your phone and apps available that will stop your notifications when you get a text or iMessage. I worked with a colleague who used these features during the day so that she wouldn’t be distracted by her friends during the day. My best friend sets her notifications so that she doesn’t see or hear any text messages after 9:00pm so that incoming messages don’t mess with her sleep routine. Why do we need these extra steps to modify how our phones work? Because we can’t help ourselves. A text is still a personalized message and we need to know what’s happening.

There is a whole body of research about how we use our phones, how many times we touch it during the day, and how anxious we get when we are out of power or out of reach of our phones. Today, we’ll talk about how to use that instinct, but in a positive way. Text messages have an open rate of 99% and people open those messages quickly. We once treated email messages like this too, before our personal inboxes became overfilled. What kind of open rates are you getting from your fundraising email campaigns? 35%? Higher? Lower?

There’s simply no comparison. If you want to get your messages read, particularly your stories, stats, videos, and updates to your donors: it is time to leverage text messages. The great news? There are plenty of inexpensive and reliable software options out there that you can use. Ask your agency what they are using.

We, in the charity sector, aren’t the first to do this. Some organizations use GPS and send automated messages when you are near one of their stores. Some send out marketing offers or reminders of campaigns or special deals happening right now. But it isn’t a saturated market by any stretch of the imagination. There’s plenty of room for you to set up one-off campaigns or ongoing stewardship messages by text. Our phones are basically an extension of ourselves now. Why not take advantage and reach your donors where they are? And they are attached to their phones, scrolling along while half watching Netflix, just like the rest of us.

Do yourself a favour and pick one of your best stewardship pieces. Make sure its embedded on a link that you can send in your SMS message. Maybe it is a video or story. Maybe it’s a donor impact report about which you are very proud. Pick one – and send to your donors. Test it. Trial it.

Oh – you aren’t sure which phone numbers in your CRM are cell phones? There’s a technology for that too. You can “ping” each number and find out which ones are cell phones. Aren’t collecting cell phone numbers? Start doing that now. You can reach donors in the format they prefer before your competitors do the same.