Why Use a Short Code for Donations?By Eric Bryant,
Short Codes vs. Regular 10-Digit Numbers
A short code is a simply a shortened phone number. It is a 4-, 5-, or 6-digit phone number that can only be used for sending an receiving text messages. Unlike a regular, 10-digit number, a short code only accepts and sends texts.
While regular, 10-digit phone numbers can be used to send and receive texts, mobile carriers may prohibit them from being used for mass marketing. Whereas short codes are ok for mass messaging and marketing content.
Additionally, some mobile carriers will block text messages that include bit.ly links or other shorturl services. This is because those links are frequently used in spam and phishing attacks.
On the other hand, short codes generally do not block these shorturl links because the purpose of short codes is either for donations or marketing, and because scammers have to pay to send messages through a short code.
In short, if you plan on collecting donations or sending text blasts with marketing content, you should really be utilizing a short code. 10-digit numbers are not to be used for mass communications, donation solicitation, or text blasts.
How Short Codes Benefit Nonprofits
If you are a nonprofit, of course you aren’t required to use a short code for collecting donations. We always say that you should use whatever technology gets you the best results. If that means collecting money through old-fashioned check writing, so be it. Or if passing around a donation plate and accepting cash works, by all means, focus on that.
But if you do plan on using short codes for your fundraising or marketing, here are a few ways a keyword and short code can facilitate donations:
Texting a keyword to a short code is faster than pulling out a checkbook and writing a check or pulling out a credit/debit card.
People carry their mobile devices everywhere now. They may forget their checkbook or wallet, but they almost never forget their phones!
Subscriber info goes into our database automatically with short codes. You don’t need a CRM system to keep track of these people. We have their phones numbers the moment they text, and we serve as a basic CRM for you.
Many people have PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay. We accept all three of these for donations. In addition, we accept bank transfers. So a short code and keyword give your donors more options.
Short codes work well during events. You can easily broadcast your short code and call to action on a projector or audio-visual display.
Short codes are easier to remember than 10-digit numbers. Recall is a key factor in branding and marketing.
As stated, you can send text blasts with marketing or promotional content through short codes. Short codes have fewer filtering rules than 10-digit numbers.
Short code messages have a very high open rate (some estimates say over 97%), a high Click Through Rate (> 20%) and therefore are a good channel for marketing.
Activity on short codes is trackable. With our short code, we give you reports of exactly how many people opted in to your keyword, how many people clicked your link, and if you use PayPal, how many donations came through your short code.
There are fewer legal compliance rules with short codes than 10-digit numbers (also known as “long codes”).
Dedicated vs. Shared Short Codes
A dedicated short code is a 4-6 digit short code that only your organization may use. For example, the Red Cross has its own, dedicated short code, 90999. Donations can be given only to the Red Cross through this short code.
Dedicated short codes usually work in conjunction with the mobile carrier serving as an underwriter for donations. That means that the donor doesn’t have to give his donation through a mobile payment wallet like PayPal or Stripe. The mobile carrier tacks on the donation amount onto the donor’s phone bill and then gives the donation to the Red Cross later.
Shared Short Codes are short codes that multiple organizations use. This is the kind of short code we offer. For example, our 77948 short code is shared across many of our customers. Each customer gets her own keyword. The keyword is unique to the customer, but the short code number is shared.
With Shared Short Codes, the mobile carrier doesn’t always get involved with processing donations. Often, as with our service, the shared short code uses PayPal or another payment processor to process donations. So, there are extra steps involved after the donor sends your keyword to the shared short code.