When it comes to recurring donor campaigns, using text messages can really make the fur fly. And by “fur” we mean donations, donor involvement and retention.
That’s the experience of one of mGive’s clients focused on saving four legged friends around the country. The organization began partnering with mGive in 2009 to integrate text messaging into their already successful communication strategy.
Specific to their goal was to grow a new community of individual donors and to cultivate monthly givers.
To achieve these goals, the client couldn’t just occasionally send out a text or add a text component as an afterthought to an existing campaign. What they found was that using text messaging is like having a pet…give it attention and care and the returns would be endlessly rewarding – although without the tail wags and tummy rubs. Instead, a mobile community returns the love with event attendance, social sharing and fundraising to help fulfill their mission.
The client’s experience shows that text giving gets the best results when supported by ongoing text communication, providing program information and opportunities for involvement other than just solicitations. In other words, using text to build a community of highly engaged supporters.
Building a Donor Community by Text Message
Here are some of the ways that our client established their recurring text giving campaign:
1. Integration: The client promotes their text campaigns through its website, social media and at special events. For example, they began asking supporters to opt-in to their new mobile community through web ads and on micro sites. Messages like “Go Mobile! Take our organization with you anywhere you are!” encouraged supporters to get involved through mobile. By the end of year one, the client had recruited 2,134 total individuals to opt-in to their mobile community.
2. Sweepstakes: They used a sweepstakes campaign to help jumpstart their mobile community, offering supporters who joined a chance to win two tickets to their 25 year anniversary celebration. This sweepstakes helped the organization acquire nearly 1,500 new individual community members alone.
3. Polling: As with any supporter segment, it’s good to get to know them so you’re sending the right message to the right people, or, more simply, make sure you’re not barking up the wrong tree. The client sent out a request to take a mobile poll via text message with five short questions. Among the information they were able to collect was the type of activities mobile community members wanted to get involved with through the organization, including volunteering, donating, receiving advocacy updates and more.
4. Targeting: By building solid donor profiles, the client was able to segment their mobile community into targeted groups as small as seven and nearly as large as 3,000. Messages ranged from local pet adoption festival invites, links to webinars and videos and regular donation solicitations.
5. Specialized Campaigns: In 2011 the organization added a mobile component to one of their campaigns. The campaign integrated mobile communication, text donations, social media and web-based communication. Through the campaign, supporters were invited to text a keyword to a short code to make a $10 donation and share a personal message about a departed pet through a mobile web form. These messages were displayed on the organizations website. Additionally, they integrated mGive’s Social Share tool to encourage participants to share their involvement with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Lastly, they offered all those who entered their information through the mobile web form to download an exclusive ringtone.
With an approach to community building through text communication as the foundation, the client sent text message updates for six months before their first direct solicitation message. Solicitation messages continue to be enveloped between other informational and program-related messages.
By building a community, the client improved the response rates of their recurring solicitation efforts. When donors receive at least two non-solicitation text messages within a week of a solicitation text, donation conversion rises from between 1 to 3 percent to 8 to 24 percent. The conversion rate tends to be higher the closer in time an informational message is sent to the donation message.
Frequent text messaging, segmentation and message variety helps the organization maintain a high retention rate, which reached 96 percent by year three and was sustained through year four of the program, up from 82 percent in year one. The more the organization communicated and used text messages to build community, the better it was able to retain members.
The client’s real-life experience proves the data reported by Charity Dynamics and NTEN in their 2012 Donor Engagement Study, which found that while most donors give to more than one charity, nearly half (47 percent) give a majority of their annual total donation amount to the charity to which they feel most connected. Sustained text messaging helped this organization make that connection.
Our client has truly unleashed the power of mobile and created a strategic plan to attain recurring donations. By cultivating relationships, using targeted messaging and integrating text giving into their broader communication activities, they have built loyal relationships with their mobile community, creating ongoing, monthly donors.