Text Messaging Strategies for Nonprofits, Churches, and Religious Organizations
As an organization leader, you are likely trying to grow your member list or need help getting existing members and volunteers to sign up and attend events. According to a recent study, 63% of nonprofit organizations in the United States are experiencing flat growth or declining membership. And a 2018 report from Volunteering in America found that only 77.34 million adults volunteered through an organization (30% of Americans).
So the question is, how do you get more people to volunteer, sign up, and participate in your organization’s activities?
One way to garner more engagement is to personalize how you communicate with your members. Those who are most likely to volunteer are looking for a community or at least a way to improve their community. This means they appreciate personal, family-like outreach because it makes them feel appreciated.
You may think you accomplish this with emails or mailing them individually but these aren’t the best ways to get people’s attention these days. Hence why volunteering and participation are going down in recent years.
Instead, try giving text messaging a shot the next time you need to reach your organization’s audience. Texts are a more personal way to communicate because it’s the next best thing to talking to someone in person, in real-time.
Okay, so how are other organizations using text messaging to improve member participation, get more volunteer signups, and grow their audience?
Best Ways Nonprofits Use Text Messaging
Nonprofit organizations find texting most useful when they use it for communicating with volunteers, sending event reminders, and asking for donations. Below, we've listed a few examples of how different organizations make the most out of text messaging.
Texting for Volunteer Sign Ups
It’s hard to get volunteers to sign up for events - it usually requires them to go to a website page or click on a link and submit some sort of information. Then your organization has to manually add these people to a mailing list and hope they open the emails reminding them when to show up.
With texting, you can avoid all this. Instead, people can text “SIGN-UP” to your organization's phone number and get automatically registered for your event. This can be done with Autoresponses by MessageDesk.
You can create unique Keywords or phrases like SIGN-UP or REGISTER that when texted automatically add the contact to the event group and enrolls them into an automatic text campaign that includes event reminders and alerts all via scheduled text messages.
Automated Follow-Ups After Events
Once your group is created, you can schedule texts for them. This is really useful for sending automatic texts an hour or so after an event takes place. These text messages can include Keywords to sign up for future events or ways to connect with your organization moving forward.
Event Reminders, Updates, and Alerts
The best way to improve your event attendance is to send personalized reminders directly to your sign-ups personal phones. This way you can guarantee they see the reminder and you’ll have a better chance of seeing them at the event.
Collect More Donations
Once you incorporate texting into your outreach strategy you’ll find it improves all aspects of your organization, including fundraising with text-to-give and text-to-donate campaigns. Now, you’ll be able to share links directly to your audience that point towards online donations.
In fact, feel free to share links on behalf of other organizations who you may partner with during certain times of the year.
How To Get Started with Text Messaging
1. Choose the right texting app
The best apps for nonprofit organizations will save you time, help you increase your audience, and be easy to use. A good app will also make it so your audience doesn’t have to download anything to start receiving your messages.
Look for these features in a text messaging app before you buy:
- Easy To Use And Get Started With
- Accessible On Desktop, Tablets, And Mobile Phones
- Support Adding Multiple Teammates
- Uses A 10-digit Local Phone Number
- Has Auto Response Capabilities
- Can Schedule Text Messages To Groups Or Individuals
- Has Group Text Without Reply All
- Provides Good Service And Support
We’d be happy to walk you through MessageDesk to see if it’s the right texting app for your organization. Simply find a time for a 15-minute demo below or sign-up for a 7-day free trial
Manage Member Opt-in and Opt-Out
The FCC regulates texting and nonprofit organizations are not exempt. This is especially true when it comes to promotional messages for upcoming events and donation requests.
The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) outlines the FCC’s boundaries, restrictions, and policies regarding text messaging for promotional reasons.
All you need to know is this - your audience must’ve opted into your messages before you send one. And they need a way to Opt-out once they no longer want to receive your text messages. MessageDesk handles all of this for you because anytime someone replies STOP to a message we automatically prevent further messages from being sent to them.
As long as your members gave you their phone numbers with the understanding that you may text them then you are free to text them. The issues with opt-in pop-ups once you start messaging people who don’t have an existing relationship with your organization.
Check out our Complete TCPA Compliance Checklist and Guide for more information.
Have Goals in Mind for Texting
The only way to know if something is working is to set goals and see if you reach them or not. With text messaging this is extremely important, otherwise you’ll find yourself sending meaningless text messages.
Setting up goals will make it easier to send meaningful messages that actually improve your audience's engagement.
Here’s an example: Say you’re struggling to get people to attend events. This means your goal is to improve event attendance. Now that you know your goal it becomes obvious that your text messages should all be focused on sending event invitations, event reminders, and RSVP requests.
As opposed to saying your goal is to “text more people”. A broad goal like this isn’t centered on any specific objective which will make it harder to know what to send and when to send it.
Final thoughts and next steps
Ready to start texting your nonprofit’s audience? MessageDesk is here to help with a smarter, simpler text messaging solution. We provide Autoresponses, scheduled text messaging, and more for nonprofits and organizations of all sizes.
Visit our learning center for information on how to get started with MessageDesk. You’ll find a quick start guide to texting, a features overview, and an explanation of what MessageDesk is.
You’ll also want to check out our list of free SMS text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.
Finally, feel free to start a free trial.