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Text-to-Give 101 with @Pay

October 6, 2016
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Text-to-give is a great way to raise money for modern fundraising organizations from churches looking for a convenient way to accept tithes to environmental nonprofits trying to broaden their giving channels.
You probably have a lot of questions about what text-to-give can do for your nonprofit. In this guide, we’ll answer five common questions your nonprofit might have about text-to-give fundraising:

  1. What is text-to-give fundraising?
  2. How does text-to-give work?
  3. Is text-to-give protected and secure?
  4. What are the benefits of text-to-give?
  5. What are some best practices for text-to-give fundraising?

With so much to explore about text-to-give, let’s jump right in!

What is text-to-give fundraising?

Essentially, text-to-give, also known as text-to-donate or text-to-tithe, is a type of mobile giving where a donor uses their phone’s texting app to submit donations to a nonprofit.

Not too long ago, donating via text message required having a special codeword, called a trigger word. The donor would send that word to a 4-digit number, called a shortcode.

For example, if a donor wanted to give $10 they’d send ‘GIVE’ to 1056 and their donation would be added onto their existing phone bill. The phone company would then take a percentage of the donation and the rest would go to the nonprofit, taking upwards of 30-60 days to process.  

Luckily, the process has been improved for both the nonprofit and the donor.

Donors don’t have to memorize a shortcode or trigger word and nonprofits can receive donations quicker. With new text-to-give technology, providers have eliminated the need for donors to memorize shortcodes and trigger words.

Now, a donor just needs to save the number of the nonprofit they wish to give to and text the desired donation amount to the number whenever they want to give, like so:

As you can see, the donor simply texted the amount they wanted to give and that was it!

The key point: Updated text-to-give technology makes donating via text message a fantastic way for nonprofits to fund raise because it is convenient for donors to give whenever and wherever they want.

How does text-to-give work?

For both the donor and the nonprofit, the process of setting up text-to-give is relatively easy. We’ll go over how nonprofits get a number and how donors can give in just two clicks.

First, in order to receive text-to-give donations, a nonprofit must choose a software provider. There are many text-to-give providers available, so make sure you pick a platform that offers all the features your nonprofit needs and keeps your donors’ information secure.

Once you’ve decided on a text-to-give provider, they will give you a phone number where you can receive donations. And, your nonprofit is set!
You can start spreading the word about your newest way to donate.

For the donor to start giving, all they need is your nonprofit’s number. And all they have to do is text their donation amount (i.e. 10, 50, 100, etc.) to that number.

The donor will receive a confirmation text with an embedded link. The link will lead them to a pre-written email, like the one below. The donor just needs to click ‘send’ to confirm their donation.

If the donor has never given to the nonprofit before, they will be prompted to fill out a quick form with their payment information.

Depending on the text-to-give provider, donors may only have to put in their payment information once because it will be saved for future use.

If a donor chooses to give again all they have to do is text the amount and confirm via email.

The key point: The process of donating via text message is simple and often takes just two clicks.

Is text-to-give protected and secure?

One of the biggest reasons nonprofits are hesitant about using mobile fundraising has to do with payment information security.

The truth is that mobile transactions are just as safe as any other sort of transaction. As with any transaction, fraud is a risk regardless of the manner which transmitted it.

However, by selecting a text-to-give provider that takes security seriously you can feel more confident knowing that your donors’ information is safe and secure.

With that in mind, we’ll go into three security measures to look out for when selecting a text-to-give provider.

1. PCI-compliant

Choose a text-to-give provider that is PCI-compliant. This measures any given company’s adherence to a strict set of standards created by the Payment Card Industry. If a text-to-give provider is PCI-compliant you can expect top-tier security.

2. Tokenization

Additionally, the best text-to-give providers offer even more levels of security with a safety measure called tokenization.

Tokenization involves taking in classified or sensitive information like credit card numbers and converting it into an indecipherable code. This code is called a token, and the payment processor that finalizes the transaction is the only one who can interpret it.

That way, no one else can intercept your donors’ payment information.

3. 2-factor authentication

Another way text-to-give providers keep the process secure for everyone is through 2-factor authentication. The process known as 2-factor authentication ensures that donors are who they say they are. This stops robots from spamming your organization with false donations.  

For someone to complete a donation, they have to provide more than one way to donate. In a text-to-give scenario, the donor’s phone number is the first form of identification. The second form of identification occurs when the donor must confirm the amount with their email address.  

With these three measures in place, it’s easy to see that text-to-give is as safe as other channels of giving, such as online transactions.

Providers are looking to ensure that transactions are secure for both the donor and the nonprofit.

The key point: Text-to-give fundraising is as safe as any other form of fundraising.

What are the benefits of text-to-give?

Just like with any fundraising endeavor, there are costs and benefits. Fortunately, text-to-give has far more benefits than drawbacks.

There are multiple ways nonprofits can benefit from using text-to-give. Aside from the fact that all payment is tracked digitally, eliminating the need for tracking paper receipts and billing, nonprofits can:

  • Receive funds quickly: Gone are the days of waiting up to two months to receive funds. Nonprofits can receive funds in up to 2-3 business days.
  • Gather donor data easily: Text-to-give providers make it easy to expand your donor database. They can capture donor information (name, number, email address, and giving history) so that your nonprofit can maintain up-to-date information. 
  • Combine text to give with other fundraising channels: Text-to-give is a great companion for live events, social media campaigns, and so much more.

Text-to-give is just another convenient way for nonprofits to raise money and can be combined with your other fundraising efforts to give donors more ways to support your nonprofit.

Donors also gain a lot of benefits too, which means double the benefits for nonprofits! For donors they can:

  • Donate quickly and on the go.
  • Give using a format that’s comfortable and recognizable.
  • Support a nonprofit with any donation amount they wish.
  • Feel secure about sharing their information.

The key point: Text-to-give offers a range of benefits for both the donor and the nonprofit, making it a great fundraising option.

What are some text-to-give best practices?

As we discussed the basics of text-to-give fundraising, you were probably wondering how to put this channel of giving into action.
There are four best practices that can help you get the most out of your text-to-give fundraising:

Leverage your existing donor base.
Your nonprofit can recruit donors to work on behalf of your organization in a process usually called crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising. Promoting your new text-to-give donations this way will help spread the word to people outside your existing donor base.  

In order to leverage your donors, you need to enlist the right supporters (those who’ve shown dedication to your nonprofit in the past) and provide them with the right tools to fundraise for you.

In this case, you could give them:

  • Images of your text-to-give campaign in action.
  • Pre-written copy for emails and social media.
  • A video explaining how the text-to-give process works.

Donors can use these tools to spread the word about text-to-give to their family, friends, and coworkers.

Provide options for donors, including recurring donations.

Capitalize on the freedom and flexibility of donating via text message. Make sure donors are aware that there is no limit to how much or how often they can donate.  

And encourage recurring donations. While recurring donors are known to give less when they give, over time their donations add up to significantly more.

Promote your text-to-give across all your channels.

The third best practice is to promote your text-to-give feature across all your channels.

It’s one thing to have text to give as an option, but if donors don’t know it exists how are they going to use it? That’s why it’s important to spread the word.

Include your text-to-give number on your website, feature text-to-give promotions on other prominent online channels like your social media accounts, and even encourage text donations at live events.

As you plan your next fundraising event, here are some other channels where you can promote text-to-give:

  • Email campaigns
  • Newsletters
  • Local magazines ads
  • Nonprofit swag (i.e. hats, shirts, stickers, etc.)

Always say thank you.

With the quick and efficient nature of text-to-give, acknowledging the donor can sometimes get overlooked. Don’t forget to take the time to thank the donor.

While they may not be making large contributions, it’s still worth it to take the time and show your appreciation, regardless of their contribution size.

You never know what small gift donors have the potential to be major supporters in the future.

The key point: Use these four best practices to make the most out of your text-to-give fundraising.

Hopefully, this guide helped answer some of your burning questions about text-to-give. Now that you’ve got the basics down for text-to-give, what are you waiting for? Search for your perfect provider and start implementing this feature into your fundraising.

This is article is by Eric Griego, Director of Business Development at @Pay, a simple and secure giving platform that provides donors a seamless way to give on a mobile device. He has implemented effective fundraising strategies for hundreds of Nonprofit & Church organizations. In his spare time he roots for the Denver Broncos while enjoying a nice craft beer.

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