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Text-to-Give Fundraising: a Complete Guide

Tatiana Morand Avatar
Tatiana Morand
Published on October 4, 2018

It’s no secret that the vast majority of people all over the planet absolutely live on their phones. More than 5 billion people worldwide own smartphones, and Pew Internet research tells us that texting is the most frequently used app—97% of Americans use it at least once a day.

Meanwhile, according to Nonprofits Source, mobile giving donations have increased 205% over the last year. A whopping 51% of people who visit a nonprofit’s website access it on their mobile device—and 25% of donors complete donations there too.

So, what do you get when you combine our collective obsession with texting with our very human desire to do good in the world?

Text-to-give donations.

It’s a simple way to empower people to donate—and take an administrative load off your nonprofit or association.

In this article, I’ll take you through all things text-to-give fundraising, including:

fundraising ebook

What is Text-to-Give Fundraising?

Simply put, text-to-give fundraising allows nonprofits and charities to accept donations via text message. Although the process varies slightly between platforms, the basic process involves donors texting a dollar amount or a key word to the designated text-to-give number. They’ll then typically receive a confirmation text with a link or an email where they’ll fill out a donation form with their credit or debit card information.

You might also have heard of text-to-donate, which, although similar, is a little different. With text-to-donate, the texter is led to a donation page on your site—which can include more images, videos, and text—and will then pay through your website rather than through the text link. The other difference is that text-to-give usually has set amounts, such as $5, $10, or $25. With text-to-donate, on the other hand, the amount is determined solely by your donors’ desire to give.

Case Study: A Successful Text-To-Give Campaign That Paved the Way For Others

One of the first and most widely publicized text-to-give campaigns was The Red Cross’s relief efforts after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

According to Snowball, “for an overwhelming majority of people surveyed, the Haiti campaign was the first time they had ever used texting to donate to charity.”

It was a strong introduction to a phenomenon that would soon become more and more common. “Text Haiti to 90999” was flashed on TV screens, on websites, in print ads and elsewhere. Thanks in part to the swift and easy way to donate, the campaign raised tens of millions of dollars.


4 Best Practices for Ramping Up Your Text-To-Give Efforts

The Red Cross’s success wasn’t an accident. Although most text-to-give platforms are designed to be exceptionally easy to use, there are a few things you’ll need to consider as you implement this kind of fundraising.

1. Keep It Simple

Some text-to-give software providers will ask you to come up with a customized short code that your donors will use to make a donation. For example, a cat rescue nonprofit might choose “Kitty15” to the designated number to initiate the donation.

According to Sandy Rees at Get Fully Funded, “you’ll want to keep your nonprofit’s short code simple to maximize your donations. The longer or more complex the code, the more likely your donors will forget it. Complicated short codes also open up possibilities for typos and of course, donation abandonment,” she writes.

Rees also advises being as specific as possible (i.e. “donate” isn’t going to cut it) and ensuring your code is relevant to the work you do. That ensures your donors will know exactly where their donation is going, and will know the good work they’re helping accomplish.


2. Shout It From the Rooftops

Well, not literally. After all, this is a technological solution. But you’ll want to get the message out about your new way of accepting donations. The key to success is to make your new text-to-give function part of your regular marketing efforts. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Posting the number and a short description of the process on all social media channels, newsletters, email blasts and other advertising efforts
  • Including it in board members’ email signatures
  • Displaying it prominently (and permanently) on your website
  • Asking supporters and influencers to share your text-to-give key word and designated number via their social media channels
  • Investing in Facebook ads and online banner ads
  • Sending a press release to relevant trade or community publications announcing a new easy way for donors to lend their financial support

This is particularly important in text-to-give campaigns because without additional context, your donors might not feel a sense of urgency. For your campaign to succeed, you’ll need to make sure they know exactly why they should be donating.


3. Make It Easy.

You might have the most compelling campaign possible, but if your potential donors don’t know how to donate, it won’t succeed. To make the process easier, consider creating a quick and easy way to show donors just how easy it is to make a text donation.

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4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

If the last your new text donors hear from you is a dry tax receipt, they won’t be prompted to donate again.

Instead, make a fuss about their donation. Most software will allow you to customize a thank-you email or send them directly to a microsite where their donation is confirmed. Here’s your chance to be grateful. Show them the impact their donation will make on your nonprofit, celebrate their generosity and make them feel appreciated.

Some easy things you can do include:

  • Quickly Tweeting out a thank-you to any new donor
  • Sending a follow-up text to confirm their donation was received
  • Having a scrolling list of new donors on your landing page for the campaign
  • Adding them to your mailing list (online and offline) so that they stay posted on new initiatives


7 Text-To-Give Platforms To Consider

Still feel a little unsure about how text-to-give campaigns work? That’s where a good service provider comes in. Here are some of the most popular text-to-give platforms that you can use to get your campaign up and running.


1. Snowball

text to give

Formerly called @Pay, Snowball is one of the most well-known text-to-give platforms and mobile fundraising tools around. It bills itself as a complete fundraising software that offers online donation pages, secure text-to-give, event fundraising tools and more.

Why You Might Choose Snowball:

This all-in-one solution is attractive because it takes care of a lot of fundraising tasks. The text-to-give component is lightning fast, which is a big plus for a lot of users, donors and nonprofits alike.

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Snowball has three price packages. Snowball Basic is free and includes an online donation page, transaction and donor data and more—though you’ll pay a standard 2.9% + $.30 fee per transaction. If you want to amp up your fundraising, you can invest in Snowball Premium for $499/year.


2. OneCause

text to give

OneCause is considered one of the best providers of mobile giving support. It helps you create personalized call-to-action keywords for your campaigns, hosts donation microsites with custom looks and donation amounts, and generates automated receipts and donor information reports.

Why You Might Choose OneCause:

Donor information is fully-integrated and secure. You’ll set up a keyword for each giving campaign, which you can use to develop marketing and promotion; people can then text that keyword to easily make a donation with their credit or debit card. This ensures you’ll be able to reach out to donors for follow-up, which can be difficult with some solutions.

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OneCause has three pricing packages for its text-to-give function, starting at $495/year. More advanced features will cost $1,295/year or $1,995/year.


3. Qgiv

Qgiv logo

Qgiv’s Mobile Suite makes text-based fundraising simple. Donors can give on the spot by texting a custom keyword to your text-to-donate number, or they can pledge their support and complete their gift later (you can even send reminders!). Outbound messaging and screencasting of fundraising progress offer exciting ways to reach donors—at home or at events—and encourage them to give!

Why You Might Choose Qgiv:

Some text-to-give platforms have pre-set donation amounts, but with Qgiv you can either tie specific amounts to keywords or leave keywords open for any amount of a donor’s choosing. Qgiv’s Mobile Suite package also offers reminder messages so you can prompt supporters to complete their pledged donations; outbound messaging so you can send news, updates, event reminders, and appeals to supporters; and even screencasting so you can display a fundraising thermometer with real-time updates at your next event!



Qgiv’s Mobile Suite package is $129/month (plus 3.95% +$0.30/transaction) and includes unlimited donation and event registration forms, users, training and support, campaign thermometers, matching gift options, Facebook donation forms, and much more!


4. mGive

text to give

mGive is a proactive solution that not only allows donors to give by text, but actively solicits their donation the same way. They have relationships with 70+ U.S. wireless carriers for text to give carrier billing donations at $5, $10 and $25, and they pioneered the text to give space and launched the first ever text to give campaign in the U.S. February 2008 with the United Way with a 10sec PSA during the Super Bowl.

Why You Might Choose mGive:

mGive’s Text to Give Premium product bills the donor’s wireless carrier, so the donor doesn’t have to use a credit card to complete their donation. That means the transaction can happen with one word in 10 seconds. They also have plans with Text to Donate and Text to Join, and every program also includes text message marketing to subscribers.

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mGive doesn’t offer standard pricing packages. You’ll need to get in touch with them to get a quote.


5. Connect2Give

text to give

Connect2Give is a service provider through the Mobile Giving Foundation, which has agreements with all cell phone carriers. This means text donations are billed directly to the donor’s cell phone, creating efficiency and convenience. Donations are pre-set to $5, $10 or $25 and donors can set them to recur each month.

Why You Might Choose Connect2Give:

Connect2Give allows you to send out information to your supporters via text, as well as collect donations. It’s a simple option that can be a good way for your nonprofit or association to dip your toes into text-to-give fundraising.

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You can choose between a prepaid plan with no transaction fees when you pay upfront or a pay-as-you-go plan that includes a standard fee per donation.


6. Give Lively

text to give

Give Lively’s Text-to-Donate with Live Display is part of its completely free fundraising platform, which also includes peer-to-peer fundraising, event ticketing, fundraising widgets, and more. A philanthropist-funded social investment initiative, Give Lively builds free online fundraising technology for nonprofits.

Why You Might Choose Give Lively:

Supporters text your nonprofit’s unique text code to a five-digit short code, 44-321, and can donate in just one tap with Apple Pay or Google Pay, or a few clicks via any other payment method they choose. You can create as many unique text codes as you need for all your campaigns, events, and more, and every fundraising page comes with its own Live Display, that updates in realtime each time a donation is made.

text to give


Give Lively is completely free: they don’t charge for the use of their technology or take a cut of donations.


7. Gnosis Media Group


Gnosis Media Group offers an award-winning text-to-give service that is simple and effective. Features include the ability to use PayPal, or any payment processor you choose, sending out monthly text blasts, and publishing weekly social media posts for your fundraiser on their social channels.

Why you might choose Gnosis Media Group:

If you are a smaller nonprofit (< $500K in annual revenue), GMG may be for you. They focus on providing a simple and easy set up for nonprofits which don’t have in-house technical resources or are on smaller budgets. With a simple, one page application, GMG can have you up and running in under an hour. Additionally, all business entities are eligible to use GMG’s service; you don’t have to have a 501(c)3. You only need to demonstrate that your organization has a not-for-profit mission. Also, they offer a seamless PayPal integration. So, if you’re nonprofit uses PayPal to process donations, GMG’s efficient, mobile-friendly implementation facilitates high fulfillment rates.



GMG has three plans: A Basic Plan ($35/mo), Smart Plan ($50/mo) and Pro Plan ($75/mo). Additionally, they offer a thermometer display feature for an additional set up fee of $35. There are no additional fees or transaction fees if you use your own payment processor. However, they do charge a 6% transaction fee on donations if you use their payment processor. Also, if you exceed 250 messages in a cycle, there is a $25 overage fee.

Have you tried text-to-give fundraising? Feel free to share your experience in the comments so other readers can learn what worked for you!

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