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6 min read

Turning Volunteers into Donors: Sending Text Message Appeals

June 19, 2024

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Your nonprofit’s volunteers are an integral part of your community. They commit their time, energy, and skills to facilitate your events, maintain your website, perform administrative tasks, and more.

Your volunteers have already demonstrated remarkable passion for your cause, so why let it stop there? Many of these dedicated individuals would be more than happy to contribute to your nonprofit as donors. In fact, according to Double the Donation, 76% of surveyed volunteers donate to the nonprofits they volunteer with.

To turn your nonprofit’s volunteers into donors, you’ll need to appeal to their specific interests, priorities, and relationship with your organization. In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can leverage text messaging—a highly personal channel—to do so.

What Are the Benefits of Nonprofit Text Messaging?

Text messages are a valuable tool for nonprofits that want to maintain regular contact with their supporters.

Tatango’s text-to-give guide provides several key statistics that illustrate the power of nonprofit text messaging:

  • It’s estimated that the average person checks their phone 58 times a day.
  • Text messages have a 99% open rate and a 90% read rate within just three minutes of sending.
  • Mobile users make up roughly 33% of nonprofit donation transactions.
  • The average donation size for text-to-donate fundraisers is $107.
  • The average mobile donation pledge for fundraising events is $167.

Whether you’re trying to recruit more volunteers or convert them into donors, text messaging provides an easy and more immediate way to get in front of your audience.

Text Message Appeals to Turn Volunteers into Donors: 4 Steps

As with any other campaign, your nonprofit needs to create a concrete strategy to reach the right volunteers with the right messages. Follow these steps to set your text message appeals up for success:

1. Personalize your messaging.

Rather than addressing your volunteers as a homogenous collective, lean into their personal interests and engagement history with your organization. Assess your nonprofit’s database to find volunteers who have consistently given their time and participated in other activities, such as an advocacy campaign.

Then, in your text message communications throughout the year, you should:

  • Address the volunteer by their preferred name.
  • Provide updates on projects or programs they contributed to.
  • Share upcoming opportunities based on their skills and interests.

Let’s say your wildlife rehabilitation nonprofit recently enlisted a team of volunteers to construct a new enclosure for its songbirds. When sending text message appeals to these volunteers, you can specify exactly how donations will benefit your songbird program, since you know these volunteers are already invested in its success.

2. Communicate a specific fundraising need.

The key to success in any nonprofit marketing initiative lies in specificity. What is your nonprofit trying to accomplish? What resources do you need to do so? Why is it important for people to support your efforts?

While many volunteers may be open to donating to your nonprofit, sending text messages that share a specific fundraising need provides the urgency for them to take immediate action. You might send a compelling appeal like:

Caleb, thank you for helping out at our community garden! We love seeing you and your green thumb every Sunday. Our veggies are flourishing, but we need your help to raise $8,000 to add new beds to feed our community. Will you donate $25 today to help us make it happen?

While you should keep your text messages short and sweet, be sure to state your fundraising goal, what you’re fundraising for, and the impact that donations will have.

3. Leverage a text fundraising platform.

Through text messaging, you can nurture more one-on-one connections with volunteers and deepen their investment in your success. However, adding or focusing on this communication channel doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive undertaking.

A text fundraising platform can facilitate your efforts with the following key features: 

  • Personalization: Segment your supporters based on characteristics such as their past involvement with your nonprofit, location, and interests. In doing so, you can ensure that every message you send resonates with your recipient.
  • Automation: Save time and resources by automating your text messages. For example, you can set up welcome messages to supporters who opt into receiving texts from your nonprofit and quick thank-you’s to event attendees after an event.
  • A/B Testing: Use A/B testing to learn what works and what doesn’t work for your audience by testing aspects such as the wording of your text messages, calls to action, or multimedia usage.
  • Secure Sending: The text message platform you partner with should have SOC-2 compliance to ensure supporter data is secure.
  • Reporting: To improve performance and engagement, you should be able to track metrics like your text open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate.

By implementing a text fundraising platform, your nonprofit can make it easy for volunteers to give whenever and on whatever device they prefer. You’ll receive an SMS short code that provides a streamlined and user-friendly experience for both your staff and volunteers to communicate.

4. Express frequent appreciation.

Remember that your volunteers have already contributed so much to your nonprofit. That’s why it’s important to make them feel valued long before you make a fundraising ask.

Some basic ways you can express volunteer appreciation through text messages include:

  • Recognizing individual milestones, such as a certain number of hours volunteered. For instance, you might reach out to a volunteer who has completed 100 hours of service with your nonprofit or send a thank-you text to celebrate those who have contributed one year to your mission.
  • Inviting volunteers to an exclusive appreciation event. Extend personal event invitations through text, addressing each volunteer by their preferred name and providing them with a convenient link to RSVP.
  • Sharing a survey link to collect volunteer feedback. Consider sharing single-question polls through text or sending volunteers links to more in-depth surveys online. By collecting and acting on their input, you can make volunteers feel more valued by your nonprofit, increasing their sense of investment in your mission.

After a volunteer decides to make a gift, recognize them for going above and beyond for your nonprofit. Highlight the impact of their contributions and consider shouting them out publicly, with their permission.

To ensure that you create text messages that resonate with your volunteers, track and evaluate metrics such as your open rate, click-through rate, average gift amount, and total number of gifts received. By continually identifying ways to appeal to your audience’s interests and communication preferences, you can keep your volunteers engaged and encourage them to become loyal donors over time.

Guest Contributer

Written by Guest Contributer

This article was written by a VolunteerMatch Guest Contributor.