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SMS Marketing for Nonprofits: Maximizing Impact

One of the most significant operational challenges for any nonprofit is spreading awareness.

You want to reach a wider audience and maximize your impact for good. Because when more people know and care about your cause, donations and volunteer hours tend to go up. 

While hosting local events, targeting community leaders and leveraging social media channels are effective ways to spread your message. One of the most overlooked yet valuable tools is SMS marketing for nonprofits.  

But how can you get the most value out of SMS? 

Read on as we explore the benefits of using texting services for nonprofits and best practices for SMS.

Table of Contents

What is SMS Marketing? 

Short Message Service (SMS), also known as text messaging, is a standardized communication protocol (and opt-in marketing channel) that uses cellular networks to send a message that’s no longer than 160 characters. 

A campaign will operate similarly to email campaigns in that you send a mass message to everyone on the contact list. As a result,  mass texting services provide a more targeted channel for reaching donors, often by directly pushing a campaign message about an event, promotion or update. 

Typically, an SMS is short, sweet and centered on a call-to-action (CTA) that’s intended to encourage the reader to take a specific action, such as donating or signing up to volunteer. The brevity and formatting of the message conveys a sense of underlying urgency that inspires people to act, and act fast. 

Benefits of SMS for Nonprofits 

SMS marketing is a highly-effective, fast-response marketing tool for both budding and established philanthropies to connect with their audience. Some of the tangible benefits are as follows. 

Boost Engagement

Each day, the world trends ever closer to a mobile-first society. For the past decade, global mobile traffic has steadily increased. And in 2022, the M&R Benchmark Report discovered that, for the first time ever, most nonprofit website traffic (54%) came from mobile users.

Put simply, practically every smartphone owner has their device on their person at all times. As a result, whether it’s in their pocket, purse or hand, a person is more likely to see and respond to mobile messages.

This mobile-centric behavior is why SMS has such an absurdly high open and engagement rate; 90% of all messages are opened within 5 minutes and 99% within 20 minutes, which is much, much higher than email’s 15%-25% average open rate.  

Text-to-Give Makes Donating a Breeze 

For any philanthropic endeavor, finding ways to encourage giving is a primary organizational objective. By definition, a nonprofit relies on the charity and goodwill of others to promote its mission. 

SMS makes it easier to ask for and receive donations or pledges than ever before. And it enables you to target donors you might not usually be able to reach—the type of person who might not know about your organization or attend in-person fundraisers but still wants to make a difference.  

Across the nonprofit sector, text-to-give rose to prominence, with mobile devices accounting for 35% of transactions and 25% of revenue, according to the M&R Benchmark Report. 

Your audience may not even know how to give to your cause. But with a quick SMS message, you rectify that imbalance.  

Create Agile Campaigns 

In the past, starting and running a donation campaign could be a full-time job that took weeks, if not months. But now, it only takes a few hours to craft a message, set up a landing page, and reach out to your entire donor list. 

With a click of a button, you can reach a massive audience. All you need is the phone number and user permission

This capability allows for agile donation campaigns that can be adapted to a recent or impending event. 

For instance, if a natural disaster were to strike a community you serve, you could instantly set up an emergency SMS campaign, seeking donations to help fund the recovery effort and support the impacted people. 

Easily Personalize Messaging 

Even though SMS campaigns tend to be designed for a mass audience, the formatting lets marketers personalize their message with the recipient's name and personal information. 

As a result, you can still produce relevant, engaging messages that are personalized to your potential donors. 

And since this is digital, with the help of text message analytics, you can continuously measure the success of a campaign and optimize it by tweaking wording, messaging, CTAs and so on to improve your results. 

Improve Event Participation and Success

One of the more practical uses for SMS involves boosting engagement for events and fundraisers. For example, you can use SMS campaigns to: 

  • Send reminders about upcoming events and fundraisers –  Alerting your audience early on can have a noticeable impact on turn-out rates. 
  • Provide last-minute updates and ticketing information – Especially if there are any changes to the event’s time, date or location, sending updates ensures that everyone is prepared and has the most recent details. 
  • Offer follow-up information – After the event has concluded, you can update your audience on its success by providing final donation totals and key takeaways.
  • Thank your audience – In addition to follow-up details, you can automate a “thank you” text message that goes out to attendees and thanks them for participating in the event. 

Best Practices for Nonprofit SMS Marketing 

Are you preparing to roll out an SMS marketing campaign? If so, keep the following tips in mind: 

  1. Keep messages short and sweet to improve audience understanding and engagement.
  2. Personalize the messages wherever possible, including small details to make the message more relevant. 
  3. Be sure to follow all SMS compliance and TCPA Opt-in/Opt-Out Requirements.
  4. Segment your SMS lists to deliver personalized and relevant content to the right audience. 
  5. Center the message around a powerful and persuasive call to action. 
  6. Build landing pages for each SMS campaign and provide the link within the message. 
  7. Leverage both SMS and email campaigns to create a 1-2 punch. 
  8. Analyze your metrics and then make changes to the campaign as necessary. 

SMS Marketing for Nonprofits 

SMS is a fast and effective way to maximize your charity’s impact. It’s a cost-effective, high-ROI approach targeting people where they’re most likely to be—on their phones. 

But what if you need assistance creating an SMS marketing campaign? 

Texting Base can help. As a business texting platform, we make it easier to connect with your donors, supporters and volunteers with personalized and engaging SMS and MMS text messaging services. With automated solutions and advanced texting features, we can help you spotlight your cause like never before. 

If you’re ready to maximize your nonprofit's impact, get started with Texting Base’s text messaging services.   



M+R Benchmarks. 2022 M&R Benchmarks Report. Text Message Marketing: The Ultimate Mobile Engagement Tool.

Mailchimp. 2022 Email Marketing Statistics and Benchmarks by Industry.