SMS for non-profits: Empathizing with the empathetic

OpenMarket – April 3, 2018

Customer retention is a challenge for every business. But for charities, it’s an especially important one. Without it, they’re constantly hunting for new donors. With it, they’re building a solid foundation to grow their impact.

Around the world, nonprofits are using SMS to communicate with their donors more efficiently and empathetically. It’s essential to earning more donations from more people over time.

In North-West London, Rumi’s Kitchen is a charity serving homeless and vulnerable individuals with a welcoming environment, and quality food. It’s using text messaging to raise greater awareness of what it’s doing, expand its operations, and deliver better training programs for its employees.

(This is the kind of mission we love.)

Together, we’ve found five big differences text messages can make:


  1. Raise greater awareness

The world is a busy place. For a charity, it’s hard to get people to know who you are, what you do and, crucially, why you do it.

That’s just as true for your current contacts and donors as everyone else. They think they already know who you are; why would they listen to a new campaign, or support part of an organization they’re unfamiliar with?

SMS gives you a gentle way to gain that attention. It not only enables you to reach busy people wherever they are, it gives them an easy route to get in contact or donate.


  1. Boost donations

Think about your current fund-raising activities. We’ll bet a lot is done over email because it’s quick and easy, right?

But here’s the problem: a considerable number of those emails are going straight into junk, or being deleted without even being read. Only around 20% of emails even get opened – let alone clicked.

On the other hand, 98% of texts get read. Hit your contact list with a well-timed text – say in the evening while they’re relaxing – and chances are they’ll notice it. What’s more, they can even make a donation via text, simply by hitting reply.


  1. Send personalized thanks

“Thank you” acknowledgements are proven to increase donor retention rates. The trick is to make those messages noticeable and memorable – without spending too much time and money on them.

When you send these kinds of messages, two important things happen. First, you can almost guarantee they’ll see it. And because you personalized it with their name and the amount they gave, they’ll be reassured their donation actually matters.


  1. Explain how donations are put to use

As public scrutiny increases, it’s common for public sector organizations to send out breakdowns to taxpayers and stakeholders, so people know exactly how their money is being spent.

As that becomes more standard, donors will expect charities to do the same. The good news is, it’s easy – and it’s a great opportunity to engage with contacts, improve transparency, and let people know the good their money is doing.

Send a text to your contacts with useful facts about how their donation is being spent, and they’ll likely be more inclined to donate again.


  1. Give important updates and event news

As much as you keep your supporters, donors and volunteers in the loop about news and events, you’re always competing for their attention and their time.

And while email is handy for a regular newsletter, it just won’t cut it if you want people to come to an event you’re hosting next Friday – or to support an urgent, last-minute campaign.

That’s where SMS comes into its own. It’s highly targeted, quick, and because you’re sending messages en masse, it’s ridiculously cost-effective. And a text message is usually read within three minutes of arriving.


Non-profit success is as easy as SMS

The most effective charities are using the latest advancements in tech to better connect with their supporters. Social media, email, and even apps have their place in helping people to feel they belong – and see the difference they’re making.

But when every last dollar needs to go a long way, you also need a channel that enables you to connect quickly with as many people as possible, for less.

Read our Empathetic Interaction eBook; it’s full of ideas for ways a small message, at the right time, can have a big impact on your charitable work.

And if you want to talk through the options, get in touch. We’d love to support you.

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