What communication channel is simple, fast, non-invasive, and interactive? Texting. Texting has become one of the number one methods of communication, especially amongst millennials and younger generations. It has been calculated that the average adult spends 23 hours a week texting. That is nearly one full day solely spent sending text messages back and forth. This is good news for any company, business, or nonprofit organization who is trying to reach vast numbers of people. Political campaigns can even text marketing to gain donor support and increase their donation goals.
Texting is such an important platform because people are comfortable with it, and it is convenient. People text their friends and family, their hairstylist, their nail artist, they receive weekly notifications from their favorite shopping brands and so much more. If people are putting so much time into communicating via text, why not do the same? Any political campaign relies on the support and donations from voters, and there is no better way to connect with those voters than by using a communication channel that is at the heart of their daily life.
Types of Donation Texts
There are two varieties of donations. The first is a text requesting a recurring donation, something on a monthly basis. For these kinds of donations, you would send a link to the voter to gain consent for a monthly donation. It could be a donation amount of $5.00 a month or $50.00, the choice is theirs. However, there are some minimal requirements in order to set up a monthly donation subscription such as this one. For the purpose of this blog, we will discuss and focus on one-time donations. Just know that recurring donations is an option, and can still be done via SMS.
For one-time donations, you are encouraging voters to make a single donation to your campaign. There are a number of ways to craft a message like this, and the way you craft it is extremely important. This donation type would be called a “text-to-donate” fundraiser. Typically a text message would be sent out with a keyword that needs to be sent back, upon this keyword being sent back then the campaign will send out a follow up text with a donation link. You can have pre-suggested donation amounts, or custom donation entries. This way your voters have no limits to how much they can give.
Crafting the Message
There are several ways that you can begin your donation text:
- Perhaps your campaign has already gathered a list of guaranteed supporters. This would be a list of people who have already made a verbal or sent a text committing their support to your campaign. If so, great, you can go out and send a donation text requesting their support.
- If you haven’t done the above, and you are unsure if someone is 100% in support of your campaign, do a text that tests the waters. That is, start your text by introducing yourself, the campaign, and try to gain the person's support. Upon gaining their support, this would be a great time to ask for further support. Now is the time you want to ask not just for their vote, but for a donation to help fuel your campaign.
- Remember to stay relevant and have your texts go in an order that makes sense. That is, you don’t want to just jump into asking for donations if you have not confirmed that individuals support. The same goes for if you have never sent out texts before introducing your campaign and your goals as a campaign. The key is to earn their trust before you jump into asking for donations. Imagine if someone asked for a raise their first day on the job. The boss is probably going to tell this employee no, because what has this employee done to show their worth and earn the boss’s trust? Some food for thought.
If you are new to text message marketing, because essentially that is what this is, then let’s go over some examples to help you craft your very own donation text.
- Here is a good example of a direct request for a donation: “Good afternoon Mary, this is [insert volunteers name] from [insert campaign name]. I am reaching out to you today to invite you to make a one-time donation to show your support.” Your donation will go towards [list a few items to persuade]. If you are interested please reply with the word DONATE.”
- A more subtle request for a donation would be a message such as this one: “Hello John, this is [insert volunteers name] from [insert campaign name]. Are you familiar with [campaign name/candidates name]?” Upon the response, you can send a message like the following: “We would love to have your support. For more information on the campaign, upcoming events, and ways to donate visit [insert link].
The benefits of the first example is that it is straight and to the point. T
his message would most likely go to someone who has already identified their support. The second conversation offers more of a back and forth conversation, and doesn’t directly ask for a donation. This message would be great for early campaign stages, and offers a means of educating the voter while also allowing for donation collections.
Methods of Texting
Think of a text blast, also known as a mass text, similar to standing on a street corner holding an advertising sign. Everyone who drives by is going to see it, and they are going to see the same message right?
At Robocent we offer managed services where our agents send out texts to a large group of people, where follow up responses are not always needed. We also offer self-managed services where you can utilize your own team to send custom responses like in example two above.
In the mass text method, since no response is necessary, you can simply send out the donation text and watch the donations roll in. In the other method, you can have a peer to peer two way conversation with voters, where you answer their questions and then send necessary links.
When to use each method for donations? This will depend on the current stage of your campaign. Think of it this way, does your recipient already trust your campaign? If so, go with mass texting, if not, it is time to build up that trust and then pop the big question–will you donate?
Before You Press “Send”
Ensure that messages are always going out during an ideal time. This means during the time of day and during the right time of the campaign. For example, if a donor has previously given a donation, the last thing you would want to do is ask them for another donation. Timing is everything, and so is being up to date on your current donors.
Another tactic to remember is to not accept the first “no.” This is a tactic that is familiar amongst marketers and salespeople alike. Consider top down selling. Or in this case, top down donation requests. The fact is, that sometimes people will go with the first donation suggested. So, you start out by asking them via text, “Can we put you down for a $50 donation?” If they say no, then drop it down to maybe $25, and if that is still a no then perhaps $15 or recommend they give whatever amount they see fit. For those who said yes to your first suggestion, then great, that is $50 for your campaign fund, but just because they said no to the first amount does not mean that they will say no to the second or final suggested donation.
Simply sending a text and requesting a donation is not good enough. Think about how you would want to be approached and asked to give a donation. If you want to increase your chances of receiving a mobile donation, then make sure you are speaking directly to your voters in a way that will be moving and persuasive. Considering that the average text donation is $107, you definitely don’t want to miss the mark.
Here are some closing tips on how to run a successful text fundraising campaign:
- Be sincere and informative in your messages of choice.
- Incorporate picture messages when necessary or when you need a visual to accompany your text.
- Develop a slogan, or a hashtag that can also be used as a “keyword” response. Such as [VOTE + candidates last name]. This will be a good advertising method to use in text, on posters, social media, and the campaign website. Plus, it makes the campaign memorable.
The most important part to a compelling SMS fundraiser is the text management platform that you use. Robocent has everything you need to gain donations via text, and you can get started today!