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Faith Leaders 4min read

Remember When Text-To-Give Was the Future? Mobile Giving Has Moved On.

Text-to-give was supposed to revolutionize charitable giving. The Red Cross demonstrated tremendous fundraising success following Hurricane Katrina. Remember how it worked?

  • Text a keyword to a string of five to 10 digits.
  • Receive a reply with a prompt to enter a dollar amount.
  • Enter your donation amount.
  • Reply with “YES” to confirm.
  • Your donation was charged to your phone bill.

As technology advanced and the world was introduced to smartphones, the text-to-give process got better:

  • Text a keyword to a string of five to 10 digits.
  • Receive a reply with a link.
  • Tap the link and your mobile browser opens to a form.
  • Type in your name, email address, phone number, credit or debit card number, and billing information.

Wait. That’s better?

It’s true, many of the limitations of text donations have been eliminated. Donors are no longer limited in the amount they can give, organizations don’t have to work directly with mobile carriers, and there are numerous platforms that provide text giving in conjunction with kiosks, online giving, and more. But that doesn’t mean text is the solution for the future.

Fees, Fees, and More Fees

As you’re shopping around for mobile giving solutions, you’ll find one common trait among the various providers: fees. Every fundraising platform will have transaction fees associated with it. These fees cover the cost of processing the credit or debit card transactions, and for your organization are a cost of doing business.

But what about the up-front cost? What about the monthly fees charged whether you’re receiving donations or not? Some providers even charge extra to brand your organization’s mobile donation form. Others charge fees if you don’t meet a minimum dollar amount each month, or ding you if you go over a certain threshold.

All this is not to say these business practices are right or wrong. Every company operates as it sees fit. It’s important to keep these pricing structures in mind as you evaluate mobile giving platforms and select the one that’s right for you.

From Text-To-Give to Online Forms

The current text-to-give model favors including a link to an optimized form that opens in the donor’s mobile browser. Now we’ve left the world of text messaging and headed straight onto the web.

As “optimized” as these forms might be, they’re still another barrier to in-the-moment giving. When people are moved to give, the last thing they want to do is fill out fields with their name, email address, phone number, credit card information, billing address…you’ve likely stopped reading this sentence. Will you take the time to enter all that information, or will you abandon the form intending to “Come back to it later?”

The alternative is a web form that asks so little information of the donor that your organization ends up with little or no actionable data. Simplifying forms for the mobile web often means eliminating form fields like email address and phone number. Even if people donate, you have no way to contact them to express your thanks or cultivate the relationship. While the donation is welcomed, it’s a one-time gift that ultimately isn’t sustainable.

Better Ways to Use Text Messaging

While text-to-give has obvious drawbacks, that doesn’t mean your organization should abandon text messaging altogether. It’s an efficient way to immediately reach donors who have opted in to receive text notifications. You can instantly engage them with:

  • Donation reminders that include the link to your mobile giving app
  • Event reminders that encourage giving even when donors can’t attend
  • Urgent notifications of emergencies like natural disasters

You can—and depending on your needs, should—consider text notifications as an option in your donor communication toolbox. Combining text with email, direct mail, social media, and your blog can help ensure you’re reaching donors where they are and in the ways they prefer to be reached.

Mobile Giving Has Moved On

The time to start adapting to the needs of future donors is now. The future of mobile giving is intelligent, simple, and beautiful. It also gives you and your donors an easy way to track donations. A universal mobile giving app fulfills all these needs and helps ensure sustainable, scalable fundraising without unnecessary fees.

About the Author

Matt is dedicated to making the world a better place. He works passionately to help charitable causes use mobile technology to raise the funds they need. In addition to his role at Givelify, he volunteers with the Southside Animal Shelter and Kentuckiana Pug Rescue.

Matt Chandler