How Text-to-Donate Unlocks the Power of Your Donors

How Text-to-Donate Unlocks the Power of Your Donors

Gnosis Media Group

Article in Brief:

  • What Is Text to Donate (a. k. a. “Text to Give”)?

  • Considerations Before Setting Up Your Text to Give Campaign

    • Building Brand Credibility

    • Raising Awareness for Your Mission or Cause

    • Growing Your Community

  • The Mechanics of a Short Code and Keyword

  • The 77948 Short Code

    • How to Donate Using A Short Code

    • How Does Texting a Donation Work With Our Service?

  • Is Donating by Text Safe and Secure?

  • Text-to-Give Case Studies

  • At Look at a Few Other Text to Give Providers

    • Additional Text to Give Providers

  • So Why Use Gnosis Media Group? One Word: Simplicity.

What Is Text to Donate (a. k. a. “Text to Give”)?

Text to Donate (or Text to Give) is just a technology that allows a person to give to your charity or nonprofit organization by sending a text message and following a few prompts. That’s it. It’s not rocket science.

Why would a person want to give a donation by text? Well, there are a lot of reasons. It’s simple. It’s fast. It’s easy, to name a few. Everyone knows how to send a text message. And everyone carries their phone with them pretty much 24/7. So, there you go.

Have you texted a donation yet? Text donations are really easy, and they’re great for charities to have in their arsenal for collecting money. 85% of people that were interested in giving to certain causes have said that they’d be interested in donating money with their mobile device. Texting yields 8 times higher engagement rates than email and a 19% click-through rate, the highest of any medium. Also, text to donate pairs really well when used in conjunction with nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns.

Considerations Before Setting Up Your Text to Give Campaign

But while texting to donate is simple and easy, administering an effective text to donate program for your organization requires a good deal of forethought and planning before launching. Remember, just because you have a keyword and a short code doesn't mean that all of a sudden you'll get a stampede of prospective donors sending you money. Raising funds means you have to spend time building up your brand's credibility, raising awareness for your cause, and growing your community.

Building Brand Credibility

By and large, the organizations which are most successful are those that have some brand recognition or brand franchise before they start their text to donate campaign. When prospective donors don't know who you are or what you're about, they will be hesitant to donate to your charity. You need to ensure that your website, social profiles, news releases and printed materials all communicate an esthetically-pleasing, clear and compelling brand identity.

We're working with GoodWill of NE #nebraska to give back to the community this holiday season. Will you help those less fortunate? Text GIVEGOODWILL to 77948 to donate today. #texttodonate #texttogive #northeastnebraska

Raising Awareness for Your Mission or Cause

Before you start trying to acquire pledges by text, people need to know about your cause. They need to understand how it benefits society, and they need to feel good about how your organization is achieving the mission. As stated, social media is a great way to raise awareness, but it's not the only way.

Free tools like Headtalker allow you to amplify the reach of your message for free. Another tip is to search Quora for posts about your cause or mission and then post content about your organization in these threads. And of course, don't forget Facebook Groups, which can be excellent tools to spread awareness for your charity.


Growing Your Community

Building an engaged, loyal community of followers around your brand is essential to maximizing the amount of funds your organization raises. Your community is what will produce the brand evangelists who will not only support you but will tell others about the great things your organization is doing.

The Mechanics of a Short Code and Keyword


Assuming your organization has some brand awareness, credibility and a following, you’re now ready to set up your text to donate campaign. For this you will need a short code and a keyword, at a minimum. What are these and how do they work?

You may have seen these little five- or six-digit numbers floating around donation campaigns for all sorts of charities, especially in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. But what exactly do these little numbers do?

Essentially, these 5- or 6-digit numbers are miniature phone numbers. They’re actually called Common Short Codes (CSC), and they’re programmed to respond to specific keywords. When you send a pre-programmed keyword message to the short code, it responds with an automated message. The number is shortened from the normal 10 digits down to 5 or 6 in order to make it easier to remember. CSCs can also send messages in bulk which makes them popular for mail carriers, retailers, and phone companies.


Short codes are convenient for sending mass messages out to people regularly. They also work very well for the purpose of setting up text donations.

The 77948 Short Code

This is the short code we use at GMG. When you sign up for our service, we basically lease out this short code to you. You may use our short code for as long as you have your subscription. 77948 is what’s known as a shared short code. This just means that it is not exclusive to just your nonprofit; other nonprofits may also use it. (This short code is actually owned by TXT180, a St. George Utah SMS provider.)

By contrast, there are exclusive short codes which only one organization may use. An example of this is the 90999 short code that the Red Cross uses. This type of short code has only one keyword associated with it, and it can only be used by one nonprofit. 

How to Donate Using A Short Code

So, Hurricane Harvey devastates parts of Houston, Texas, and you want to help out. You notice on social media that some of your friends have shared a short code. There are a few ways in which short codes can receive donations. Some are automated, like the Red Cross, where you simply text a code word or number (and sometimes a specified amount) in the message body and send it to the short code.

The Red Cross’ short code (90999) then sends you a message back to confirm your postal code. When you reply with your zip code, your mobile carrier adds the donation amount, usually $10, to your phone bill that month. After the mobile carrier’s accounting next cycle, the carrier sends your nonprofit the donation.

The other method -- which is growing in popularity because of its versatility and ease of use -- is quite similar. Instead of automatically adding the fee to your phone, the receiver of your message responds back with a link. There, you can click the link and donate however much you’d like. Typically, the link goes to PayPal so you get a secure, quick checkout. The process from start to finish is designed to be simple and easily accessible.

How Does Texting a Donation Work With Our Service?

Now that you understand the concept, here’s how that concept looks using our particular service:

  1. Choose a keyword that will trigger your donation sequence. For example, ITL2017, GUARDIAN, AUTISM. Your keyword can be any combination of letters and numbers. Must be 4-12 characters. No spaces or special characters.

  2. Once you have your keyword in mind, head over to the order form.

  3. Choose your package, supply your PayPal email.

  4. Give us the link to your donation page, if applicable.

  5. Give us your text message reply.

  6. Tell us whether you want to use us, PayPal or your own payment gateway as your payment processor.

  7. Once you pay, we set up your keyword on our short code, which is 77948, usually within the hour.

  8. Done!

Now, when a prospective donor texts your keyword to 77948, she receives a prompt to donate to your charity. The prompt includes a link to your mobile-friendly PayPal, our custom checkout page, or a checkout page of your choice, to complete her donation.


Is Donating by Text Safe and Secure?

Absolutely. Text to donate technology has evolved since this post. It is secure and has more oversight now than in years past. So I'd say that it is safe from a tech/security checkout perspective. The thing you have to watch out for is illegitimate nonprofits. You want to make sure you're not giving your money to some individual in a basement somewhere but to a real, credible nonprofit entity. But as for the mechanics of text to donate themselves, it is very safe.

Our service, for example, uses end-to-end encryption on our short code as well as on our payment checkout pages. We are PCI compliant, which you can see here. This just means that our site, service and checkout pages have passed the basic level of security mandated by the credit card companies and processors.

Text-to-Give Case Studies

Below are a few recent case studies showing the effectiveness of our text to give service.

Case Study #1: Bay Area Fire Relief Fund

One of our most successful customers was the Bay Area Fire Relief Fund. They came to us last Fall to raise funds for the wild fires that broke out last year in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through a partnership with local radio stations KNBR, KSFO, The Bone, KGO810, and KFOG, they launched an ambitious campaign to raise $250,000 to help Bay area residents who had lost their homes due to the fires. 

Results and Key Takeaways

  • From November 2017 to January 2018 -- just three months -- the Bay Area Fire Relief Fund raised close to $300,000, surpassing their goal.

  • Think about your broader marketing: Using a radio advertisement in conjunction with text to donate enabled BAFRF to exceed its fundraising goals substantially.

  • Think about your timing: Text to donate campaigns often work optimally during crisis situations where the impulse to give is strongest. They also work well during the holiday giving season.

  • Multiple keywords can yield exponential results. BAFRF purchased a separate keyword for each radio station to use. This effectively segmented their audiences, as those who tend to listen to The Bone may not be the same demographic as those who tend to listen to KGO810. Having multiple keywords also enabled BAFRF to understand which marketing messages and channels performed the best.

  • Think about your audiences before launch. BAFRF had a plan, knew who their target audiences were, and created tactics to reach each market segment with its own unique messaging. This is key. No text to donate service is going to market itself. You are the driver and must know what types of messages best motivate your audience.

Case Study #2: Ripple Effect Artists

Ripple Effect Artists is a theater company that uses drama to raise awareness for human trafficking. They have been customers of ours since May 2017. Their success lies in their strategic and effective use of our text blast features. Each month, they not only solicit donations in an ongoing digital campaign, but they send out reminders, news, alerts and upcoming events to their subscriber base. 

Results and Key Takeaways

Case Study #3: The Musical Autist

The Musical Autist, run by CJ Shiloh, a neurologist and music therapist, raises funds to create "sensory friendly performances" for those unable to sit still or be quiet to enjoy public performances. They utilized our text to donate service for one of their annual fundraisers.

Results and Key Takeaways

  • Using our service, the Musical Autist raised almost $60,000.

  • Combining text to donate at a fundraising event is typically more effective than using a text to donate number only in an online setting.

  • While most of the Musical Autist's funds did not come from their text to give option, they were glad that they made the option available, according to Shiloh. This underscores a point we make very often and which is borne out by research: most nonprofits will raise more overall by having text to donate in their marketing mix than they will without it.

Case Study #4: DCHS Football Boosters

The DCHS Football Boosters raises funds to support high school football programs in Douglasville, GA. They came to us in 2016 to help support their football teams.

Results and Key Takeaways

  • A town of only about 35,000, the Douglasville Boosters acquired over 3,100 prospective donors in just 40 days, utilizing our award-winning text to donate service.

  • Don't be afraid to gamify your text to donate campaign. What made the DCHS boosters so successful is they were raffling off a Jeep as part of their text to donate campaign.

  • DCHS parked a Jeep outside a local public square with a sign on it reading "Want to win this Jeep? Text JEEP to 77948 and donate $100 to be entered into a raffle." This created an element of eager anticipation in the community, along with a lot buzz. The result: As buzz swelled, more and more people began texting to donate, and the tactic created a viral effect.

  • This also highlights the importance of having a strong call to action.

  • We estimated that DCHS raise somewhere between of $7,800 - $25,000. But perhaps more importantly, they now have 3,100 prospects to market to going forward. Remember, it's not just about the raw amount of donations, it's also about building a subscriber base that will support and publicize your organization going forward.

  • Even in a relatively small community like Douglasville, without about 35,000 residents, you can still create a big splash using text to donate. Think of ways to create buzz, intrigue and excitement around your campaign like DCHS did and you're sure to be a success.

At Look at a Few Other Text to Give Providers

If you’ve done just a little bit of research online, you’ve no doubt noticed that there are a plethora of competitors in this space. They offer by and large the same features, but there are some marked differences in benefits to you. Below if a table that compares our service with one well-known competitor, Bidr. This comparison could apply to many other providers, however.

GMG Bidr (Text.Gives)
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

Additional Text to Give Providers


BidPal is a full-service, end-to-end fundraising technology. It offers donor database management, online auctions, event ticketing and more. It is a feature-rich solution with a lot of bells and whistles. BidPal is best known for its innovation in bring mobile bidding to silent auctions. Of course, you pay a premium for those bells and whistles; BidPal's pricing starts at about $100/mo per user. So it may not be the best solution for nonprofits on a tight budget.


Like BidPal, AtPay also offers a full suite of features including text to give, embeddable website widgets, and donor CRM solutions. They have lower monthly fees than BidPal, however they take a larger percentage of each donation. AtPay has a free version with no monthly fee. But with this free option you only get a web giving donation page and have to pay 4.9% + .30 per gift. AtPay's strength is that it is a preferred partner of BlackBaud, so it integrates with many Blackbaud features. If your nonprofit already uses BlackBaud, AtPay could be a solid option for you.


MobileCause is similar to us in that they offer a text to donate service where the nonprofit chooses a keyword and they lease out their short code (41444). Also like us, MobileCause users can send out event invitations, fundraising updates, and more via text message. The main difference is price: MobileCause charges a $350 set up fee, $100-$250 monthly fee, and $0.48 transaction fee per donation.


Give Lively is a relatively new player in the market. They came in in 2015, and quite honestly they’ve been disrupting this market because they offer a completely free service. No fees. No set up costs. No percentage of donations. It’s difficult to compete with free, especially when Give Lively is constantly adding new features and functionality. A nonprofit themselves, they are funded by a well-to-do heir of the Soros Family, so that’s why they can afford to offer their services for free. They promise to keep their service free forever, but that remains to be seen.


Like Give Lively, Rally Corp is also a fairly new entrant to this market. They offer a pretty cheap service, advertising at $25/mo for a host of features. Rally Corp started off as a lead generation platform, but then expanded into the text to donate arena.


Tithely offers a full suite of fundraising tools primarily geared towards churches. They boast that they are signing up hundreds of churches every month. and they offer competitive pricing. They offer a free plan that only takes transaction fees. However, the free plan does not include text to give. To get that, you must upgrade for $19/mo.

So Why Use Gnosis Media Group? One Word: Simplicity.

In addition to the competitors listed above, there are a dozen or more out there that offer similar services and features. Why would you choose us, especially when one of them is $19/mo, another is $25/mo — and one is free!? What justification do we have for charging $40/mo for our starter plan?

When we conduct customer satisfaction surveys (which we do A LOT), one theme consistently rings out: Simplicity. Our customers consistently state that one thing they like most about our text to donate service is that it’s simple and easy to use. And that’s not by accident.

We’ve purposefully designed our product to be the simplest text to donate service on the market. We’ve built our service with nonprofit fundraising and development professionals in mind. We realize that you have limited technical and financial resources. You need to spend your time planning events, administering programs, engaging volunteers, and training staff. You don’t have the time or resources to spend trying to learn another complicated technology.

Fundraising is already hard enough as it is. You need a solution that doesn’t make it any harder!

That’s what we’ve built. We make it as easy as possible for you to get started quickly and hassle free. You need zero technical knowledge to use us. You don’t even need a website or your own payment processor. There is no login required, no elaborate set up process.

You don’t have to create an account or supply lots of documentation. You simply complete the short, one-page order form, and we set up everything for you. When you need assistance or to request a change, you simply send us an email to our after-hours customer support team and we’ll take care of it for you.

No DIY. We Do It All for You.

The biggest advantage you’ll have when you work with us is that you can say goodbye to DIY fundraising. We take care of the heavy lifting for you — set up, reporting, text blasts, thermometers, keywords, even promotion. We are a full-service fundraising consultancy.

You don’t have to configure anything. You don’t have to log in and figure out how to access anything. You don’t have to place any HTML on your website. We do it all for you.

Now, if you prefer a more DIY approach, then you might consider one of our competitors. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to have to learn HTML or figure out how to navigate another content management system in order to raise more money. You have other responsibilities and probably wear a bunch of hats.

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