Looking into text-to-give? Think twice!

Have you been caught up in the text-giving gold rush? If so, slow down for a few minutes and consider a few things.

It might not be as great as it sounds. First, check out this post at Mashable: 5 Real Challenges For Non-Profit Texting Campaigns.

Close examination of texting-based fundraising reveals a wide variety of barriers for 501(c)3s, including the use of mandatory foundations and ASPs (application service providers) to interact with carriers, a stringent vetting process to become accepted, limited donation amounts of $5-$10, limited short codes, and shared costs with partners (in some cases, the wireless carriers). Even after setting up text-based fundraising mechanisms, non-profits face the challenge of limited function integration, and appealing to donors.

There’s another challenge too. The value of text gifts is dramatically lower than gifts in other media. Both the initial average gift and subsequent giving of web, mail, broadcast, and print gifts dwarf those of text gifts.

Here’s a way to think about text giving: If you can use any other response medium, use it. Text giving has the lowest per-donor value there is. One new online donor is as valuable as about 14 new text donors. The figure is similar for new direct mail donors and all other media.

Use text-to-give when you’re sure you’ll get revenue you would not have got otherwise.

Don’t use it otherwise!


Comments

6 responses to “Looking into text-to-give? Think twice!”

  1. Great post. I agree 100%. Sometimes you are paying fees as high as 20% of the value of your gift.
    There is definitely something viral that is happening with text giving. I think that is where the value is. I like the advice of if you can use any other medium try that first.

  2. Great post. I agree 100%. Sometimes you are paying fees as high as 20% of the value of your gift.
    There is definitely something viral that is happening with text giving. I think that is where the value is. I like the advice of if you can use any other medium try that first.

  3. Jeff, I agree that text giving should not be the sole way a non-profit fundraises or actually one of it’s top 5 ways.
    But, there is a benefit…it gets folks in the habit of giving. Think about the millions of people who gave to Haiti…tweens, teens, college kids who would never have given but did with text giving.
    Now, you can make all kinds of arguments about their long-term value, but really the cost to acquire one of those donors is pretty cheap and most will never give again, but at least people are doing something outside of themselves and thinking of others…that can’t be all bad.
    Somebody is going to figure out a new system of capturing these text gifts that doesn’t come out of a phone bill etc. and will discover a way to cost-effectively cultivate these donors.
    Bottom line: The more opportunities available for people to GIVE…the better. The non-profit world will catch up.

  4. Jeff, I agree that text giving should not be the sole way a non-profit fundraises or actually one of it’s top 5 ways.
    But, there is a benefit…it gets folks in the habit of giving. Think about the millions of people who gave to Haiti…tweens, teens, college kids who would never have given but did with text giving.
    Now, you can make all kinds of arguments about their long-term value, but really the cost to acquire one of those donors is pretty cheap and most will never give again, but at least people are doing something outside of themselves and thinking of others…that can’t be all bad.
    Somebody is going to figure out a new system of capturing these text gifts that doesn’t come out of a phone bill etc. and will discover a way to cost-effectively cultivate these donors.
    Bottom line: The more opportunities available for people to GIVE…the better. The non-profit world will catch up.

  5. great post, glad that there are level heads out there to remind people to take a realistic view of some of these over-hyped trends

  6. great post, glad that there are level heads out there to remind people to take a realistic view of some of these over-hyped trends

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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