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Truth Hurts: You Need to Text Your Donors

By Lynne Wester

Photo © 2016 by Andy Moran

If you listen to my new friend, Lizzo, (you go to one concert, and you immediately feel like her bestie), "Don't text me, tell it straight to my face".

But we, as fundraisers, need to be more open to text as a means to great donor communications. I've been exploring texting with many of my clients, and we are still working on it as a developed channel in our multi-channel approach to donors. Unfortunately, our organizations look at texting the way we looked at social media in the last decade.

Let's face it-we've drowned our supporters in email. The average open rate hovers in the 20% range. But for text, 90% or more of text messages are opened and read in under three minutes, and 80% of people use texting for business purposes. Isn't fundraising a business?

You would be amazed at the vitriol I get when I suggest texting a thank you to donors or sending them a link for more information. Questions like, "When did we get their permission to text them?" Or "What if they don't want us to text them.?" Well folks, we have their home address, which is much more intrusive than a text message, and they can always reply STOP to us if they don't want any more texts. But hey, let's try it! Let's stop waiting around to realize that it is a valid channel for communications.

My friend Justin, creator of Check In Easy has a platform that many of us are using called Textology, where you can text donors both individually and en masse right from your email inbox. That way, everything can be easily recorded in your database or CRM.

Imagine the anxiety you feel when you don't have your cellphone near you. You're not alone, because 91% of adults have their mobile phones within arms reach 24/7. Most people sleep within 3 feet of their phones. Now don't go texting people all hours of the night, but imagine if your donors received a "just thinking of you" text with a photo of their scholarship recipient on campus. Or if you walked by the construction site of a new building going up, texting them an image of it.

We can't be afraid to communicate with our donors and meet them where they are. Start with a small group of donors and test a program giving them updates or thanking them. Reach out to them about their interests and see what happens. It's a great way to target specific groups within your database. And if you need a pick me up to your day, scroll down into your text messages to someone you haven't chatted with in a while, send them a text letting them know you're thinking of them with an adorable emoji or photo and watch the smiles ensue.

And if you need more inspiration, as Lizzo would say, "Boss up and change your life. You can have it all, no sacrifice."




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