GMG vs. Text.Gives (Bidr)By Eric Bryant,
We recently received an email from a prospect, Brenna, who was trying to decide between using our text to donate solution or Text.Gives (Bidr). That conversation motivated us to look into precisely what Text.Gives offers.
Text.Gives is a product of Bidr and is the text to donate portion of their mobile giving software.
You may think it strange that we mention our competitors on our blog, but we want our customers to go with the best service that meets their needs -- even if that is not us. We love conversations like this because they force us to keep our game sharp and objectively assess the value that our competitors offer. Let's see how Text.Gives stacks up against GMG:
|No % on Donations Received (unless you use our payment processor)||Takes a % of Each Donation regardless|
|Charges a Monthly Fee||No Monthly Fees|
|Offers a Short Code||Does Not Offer a Short Code|
|Provides After Hours Support||Probably Not|
|Provides SMS Blasts||Doesn't Look Like It|
|Runs Social Media Promotions for You||No|
|Fewer Steps, Better User Experience||Adds Extra Steps, Poorer User Experience|
|No Unlimited Texting||Offers Unlimited Texting|
|Offers Recurring Donations & Multiple Amounts||Locked into Set Donation Amount|
Brenna mentioned that the big draw she was finding with Text.Gives/Bidr is that they don't charge a monthly fee. And she's right: Text.Gives does not charge any monthly fee. They only take a percentage of donations (it comes out to about 6% after all is said and done). By contrast, we charge between $36-$48/mo, depending upon package, and do not charge any transaction fees.
Text.Gives' fee structure makes it a sort of performance-based service. If you don't get any donations, you don't pay Text.Gives anything. You don't have to pay a monthly fee to keep your phone number and keyword active with them, as you do with us. Thus, the argument can be made that, since Text.Gives isn't charging you anything if you don't get a donation, you're not losing anything.
Fair enough, but we offer a money-back guarantee: If you don't get at least one prospective donor, we will refund your first month's bill, no questions asked. And we offer a lot more value for that monthly fee, as you'll see below.
Short Code vs. Long Code
Text.Gives only provides a 10-digit number, not a short code (the number they provide is 855.735.2437). The limitation with these "long codes," as they are called, is that they are harder to remember, easier to mistype, and tend to discourage texting more so than short codes. We used to offer long codes as well and almost invariably our customers using long codes had lower engagement rates.
By contrast, if you go with us, you'll get to use our easy-to-remember short code: 77948. Short codes are much better to put in marketing messages, in tweets and social media, because they are memorable. For example, putting "Text GIVE to 855.735.2437 to donate..." on a billboard, flyer or sign will naturally have lower engagement rates than "Text GIVE to 77948 to donate." An important principle in marketing is: the easier something is, the fewer the steps required, the higher your conversion rates will be.
We tried the demo on the Text.Gives site. We will say that Text.Gives has a very nice, mobile-friendly layout. Mobile landing pages are easy to read and fairly intuitive to navigate. However, we did see one major drawback.
Aside from having to text a keyword to a long code -- which we already know tends to decrease the number of prospective donors who are even willing to text to begin with -- when you text your keyword to the charity's number, Text.Gives actually responds to you from a different number:
How Many Steps Are Involved?
We've been in business for 10 years, (much longer than Text.Gives, by the way). And what we've found is that prospects who text to one number but receive a message back from another number, tend to get confused or don't always even see the message come in from the second number. Things like this that create friction or hesitation almost invariably negatively impact conversion rates.
Now, let's say you don't miss the message from the second phone number. Look at how many extra steps this adds. When we tried the demo, we had to close out of the messaging app screen we were in, find the new message from the new number, and open that.
That's 1 or 2 additional steps.
Next, we had to text back to Text.Gives the amount we wished to donate.
... Another step.
Then, Text.Gives sends me back a URL to complete my donation. I click it.
... Another step.
When I get to the checkout page, I now have to enter my credit card info. Now, with any service, including ours, the donor may have to do this anyway. However, we offer a PayPal integration that often removes this step entirely.
Since PayPal is the most widely used mobile payment processor, a lot of donors already have a PayPal account. As a result, these donors can just tap a button, log into PayPal, and complete their donation without having to enter any credit card info.
Thus, while Text.Gives may be cheaper, look at all the extra steps a prospect has to complete in order make a donation. You don't want to add any more steps than are necessary, especially if you want the highest mobile conversion rates.
After Hours & Weekend Support
With Text.Gives, although they only charge 6% transaction fees and no monthly fees, you have to ask: "What do I actually get for this?" Do they provide evening and weekend technical support? Do they have a customer service phone number to respond to questions or technical problems that may arise?
On the other hand, for $36-$48/mo, we respond to emails after hours, in the evenings and on weekends -- and usually within the hour. If you run into an issue during an evening or weekend event, you can reach us immediately by text message, and even by phone in emergencies.
We couldn't find anywhere on the Text.Gives site that says they offer SMS blasts to subscribers. Well, we do. This is a very valuable feature that helps you raise more funds. We allow you to send SMS blasts to all your donors, pretty much anytime you like. You can use this to remind those who haven't donated to complete their donations or for any other purpose.
Promotions vs. No Promotions
We offer social media promotions, and our Pro Plan customers even get social media advertising on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels! Text.Gives definitely does not offer anything close to this.
Custodian of Funds
Text.Gives boasts a sleek control panel that allows you to monitor donations in real-time. We admit this is a cool feature. However, there is a downside to this. In order for Text.Gives to show you real-time donations, they have to be acting as the custodian of your funds. This means that you may only use them as a payment processor. This is also how they're able to charge you a 6% transaction fee. By using their payment checkout, they get your money first, take out their fees, and then disburse to you the rest.
Now, if you don't mind letting a company be a custodian of your donated funds, then this may work well. However, some nonprofits are uncomfortable with this (for obvious reasons), and others are not chartered to do so.
By contrast, GMG offers both options. You can either use your own payment processor (e.g., like PayPal, Authorize.Net, or Stripe) or you can elect to let us process your payments. We give you lots of options to meet your unique needs.
Another thing to consider: If Text.Gives processes your donations, how long does it take for them to disburse those donations to you? They don't actually tell you this anywhere on the site. Often times when companies act as your custodian, it can take 30, 60, 90 days or more to get funds.
On the contrary, if you use us as your payment processor, we guarantee disbursement of your funds in 15-30 days, and we can often get your funds to you much faster (within 2-5 business days).
Recurring Donations vs One-Time Donations
Text.Gives requires you to enter the amount you wish to donate before generating the payment checkout link. What if you want to display multiple, preset payment options, like $5, $10, $25, etc? What if you want to accept recurring donations? With us, you can do either of these; you're not locked into charging the donor a set amount.
One feature Text.Gives offers than we do not is unlimited texting. This means Text.Gives doesn't charge you extra if you go over a certain number of text messages in a billing period. We, on the other hand, give you 250 messages for free, as part of your plan. But if you exceed 250 messages within a cycle, we charge an additional $20.
Nevertheless, in our 10 years of doing this, we've only had a handful of customers go over the 250 message limit within a cycle. And $20 is a very nominal cost. Keep in mind that, if you're exceeding 250 messages, then typically that means you're getting a ton of donations. Remember, Text.Gives is taking 6% of every donation. So, the more successful you are, the more they charge you. In the end, you may actually be paying more for Text.Gives, if you get a lot of donors in a short period of time, than you would pay with us.
Cheaper isn't always better. We partner with you; advertise for you; publish weekly organic social media posts for you; share your content in Facebook groups and on Quora; we even share photos of your nonprofit on Instagram. We don't just give you technology and say, "Good luck, you're on your own!" Our goal is to help you bring in as many donations as possible and spread your message as far and wide as possible.
For all these reasons, we think we're the clear winner. Text.Gives (Bidr) does offer some nice features, but the point is to raise money. Some of Text.Gives' features have been demonstrated to diminish conversion rates.