Top 5 Ways Text Messaging Will Retain Donors in 2023

As donor retention rates have declined over the past five years — including last year — nonprofits are using new channels to focus on retention. Text messaging isn’t new to nonprofits. Many may remember text messaging raising $43 million after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

While text messaging has remained a reliable conversion channel since then, nonprofits are taking advantage of texting’s strong and immediate open rate to focus on retention. According to a Mobilesquared report (opens as a pdf), 99% of text messages are opened and 90% are opened within the first three minutes.

Here are five ways nonprofits will use text messaging to improve donor retention in 2023.

1. Texts Alert Donors of Time-Sensitive AppealsTime-Sensitive Appeal Text

Whether it’s Giving Tuesday, Mother’s Day, back to school or another deadline-focused appeal, there is no better channel to get time-sensitive fundraising messages read by donors than text messaging. As previously mentioned, 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being received.

Over the past 15 years of working with nonprofits, I’ve seen online donations spike for many nonprofits the closer they get to a fundraising deadline. Texting ensures fundraising messages will quickly reach donors at those key moments. And for donors you’re trying to renew, text messaging is a timely reminder to make their gift.

2. Texts Ensure Report-Back Messages Reach Donors

After each fundraising campaign, it’s important to report back to donors on the impact of their gifts. Not doing so is one of the top reasons donors stop giving. But what if those report-back communications don’t reach donors?

If you’re only relying on email, those report-back emails might not get opened or may land in a junk folder. Or, some donors may be suppressed from emails if they haven’t opened email recently. More on that will be coming up in reason No. 4.

Text messaging can fill in those retention communication gaps. Not only are 99% of texts opened, but they can be personalized by which campaigns donors supported.

3. Texts Notify Recurring Donors of Failed PaymentsPayment Failure Text

Recurring donors are more than five times more valuable than one-time donors. In my experience, one of the top reasons monthly donors stop giving is because of failed credit card payments.

Text message alerts can notify monthly donors that their payment needs to be updated. Pro tip: Personalize those texts with your organization’s name, the donor’s name, monthly gift amount and impact of the gift, so donors are sure it’s your organization contacting them.

For example, “Mary, your $20 monthly gift payment to feed a hungry child recently failed. Please contact Children in Need by …”

4. Texts Keep Donors Engaged Throughout the Year

Several years ago, Gmail advised only emailing those who engage with your emails. Otherwise, your email deliverability reputation can suffer and more emails can land in the junk folder.

Nonprofits now often suppress those who have not opened an email in the past six to 12 months, though they may slightly extend that timeframe for donors. I’ve seen this suppression usually eliminates 50% to 60% of their available emailing addresses.

And of those who are sent email — three of four constituents are not opening it.

Between suppressing emails and those not opening email, I’d estimate 80% to 90% of a nonprofit’s email addresses are not seeing their emails.

Text messaging can ensure nonprofit communications reach those constituents and donors who are unreachable by email. And unlike social, search or display ads, text messages can be personalized with name, past campaigns supported and more.

5. Get Videos in Front of Donors

Short videos — usually up to 30 seconds — can be played directly within text messages, unlike email which requires a click-through to play a video. 

Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it in a text.

While text messaging helps get important messages in front of donors, video can help donors retain those messages.

Videos can be a unique way to say “thank you” after a campaign. They can also be a powerful way to show the impact of gifts. And when asking donors to give again, videos can create emotion and help donors better understand a problem they can solve.

All of these ways can help address reasons donors stop giving, such as not being asked again, thanked or shown the impact. 

The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.