Text to Donate: Everything You Need to Know


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Published February 18, 2022 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The data on cell phone usage is clear. Ninety-seven percent of Americans own a cellphone and 80% use text messaging. The prevalence of this communication channel makes it an easy choice for expanding donor stewardship; some donors might even prefer it. In fact, 85% percent of customers report favoring it over email or phone calls.

Text to donate is a feature you can leverage for fundraising through your audience’s mobile devices. If you’re looking to get started with this feature, our guide below will set you in the right direction, including: 

  • Differences between “text to donate” and “text to give”
  • Reasons to use text to donate
  • Best practices for text-driven donations
  • Tips on how to use Classy Live for this feature

Text to Donate vs. Text to Give

While the terms sound similar, text to donate and text to give are two different ways of donating.

What is text to donate, and how does it work?

Text to donate leverages the popularity of text messaging to engage with potential donors. To participate, supporters text a designated keyword, such as “DONATE,” to a nonprofit’s text to donate number. 

This triggers an automatic response inviting the supporter to donate through a provided link. The link directs them to a mobile-friendly donation page where they can enter their information and payment details.

Text to Donate vs. Text to Give

What is text to give, and how does it work?

Text to give also invites supporters to text a keyword to a specific number if they’d like to donate to that advertised cause. However, they are not directed to a donation page through that text. 

Instead, by texting the number, they are agreeing to a set donation amount, typically between $5 to $25, which is added to their monthly phone bill and eventually passed along to the nonprofit behind the campaign.

What are the key differences between text to donate and text to give?

There are several important distinctions between text to donate and text to give. Understanding the limitations of text to give versus text to donate can help your nonprofit choose an approach that will maximize donor engagement and giving.

The key differences between text to donate and text to give include:

  • Donation Codes
    • Text to give asks donors to send a text to a short code number (e.g. text “DONATE” to 34512). 
    • Text to donate uses a long code number similar to a regular phone number (e.g. text “DONATE” to 888-555-1234). 
  • Payment Type
    • Text to give adds a set donation amount to the supporter’s phone bill to be paid in the way they have set up with their carrier. 
    • Text to donate allows supporters to choose the amount they’d like to give and complete their payment through their preferred methods on the nonprofit’s donation page, such as PayPal, bank transfer, digital wallets, or credit or debit card.
  • Interface
    • Text to give relies solely on text messages. 
    • Text to donate replies to a supporter’s text opt-in with a URL that directs them to the same mobile giving form they’re used to seeing. 
  • Organization Size
    • Text to give requires nonprofits to submit an application, pay an application fee, and meet a minimum fundraising requirement of $500,000 per year to be able to use the feature. 
    • Text to donate can be used by nonprofits of all sizes.

3 Reasons to Use Text to Donate

There are several reasons text to donate is a great option for nonprofits in addition to the limitations of text to give highlighted above.

1. Build More Opportunities for Donor Stewardship

Since text to give consists only of a couple of transactional text messages, it doesn’t give nonprofits the opportunity to connect more deeply with their supporters.

Text to donate, on the other hand, allows you to tell your nonprofit’s story and showcase your brand by linking out to mobile-friendly campaign pages full of content. Using these methods to convey your mission to donors and connect with them on a more personal level helps build longer-term relationships.

Because text to donate uses a traditional donation form, nonprofits are also able to collect valuable donor data they wouldn’t receive through text to give donations.

Nonprofits can use the information they gather through text to donate campaigns to take advantage of text message follow-ups with donors, which have a high open rate. You can use these text messages to encourage future donor involvement through volunteering, events, or other donation opportunities.

2. Leverage Options for Recurring Giving and Higher Donations

Whereas text to give is capped at lower amounts, such as $5 or $10, text to donate links supporters to a traditional donation form with an open field where donors can give as much as they’d like. The average donation amount from text to donate campaigns is $107, much higher than the capped text to give amounts.

Donors can also select from different recurring donation frequencies. This means that what would only be a one-time donation of $10 through a text to give campaign could become a monthly donation of $55 through a text to donate effort.

Nonprofits can also leverage pass-through parameters to preselect recurring donation options when supporters click on the donation form link. Likewise, donors can text an amount they’d like to donate, which can be prefilled into the donation form when they land on it.

3. Make Giving Easy During Events

Events are a perfect time to use text to donate features. You can give your event attendees an event-specific keyword to text that makes it easy to donate during your event with whatever payment method is easiest for them. 

For example, if you’re a food bank having your annual “No More Hunger Gala,” you could tell attendees to text “NO HUNGER” to your text to donate number to support your mission.

Additionally, text to donate provides a way for virtual attendees to participate in the fun. You can promote the feature through your social media and engage with participants through your posts and stories throughout the event to thank them for their support.

4 Best Practices for Text to Donate

Once you’ve decided to add text to donate to your fundraising strategy, there are a few steps you can take to get the most out of the feature.

1. Make Your Donation Form Mobile-Friendly

Text to donate is inherently completed through mobile devices, so ensure your donation form is optimized for mobile.

Within your text message, keep the URL to your donation form short. Where you can, use pass-through parameters to pre-fill sections of the donation form, such as donation amount or frequency, to spare your donor’s time. 

Overall, keep your mobile donation form as short as possible, collecting the basic information you need to process the donation. You can always follow up later for additional donor stewardship information.

You can also pair your mobile donation form with a mobile application for events you host. Classy Live offers a mobile app for nonprofit events that can have your donation form built right in.

2. Keep Your Keyword Simple

Keep it simple when selecting the keyword you’ll have donors text to your opt-in number. Your keyword should be unique to your event and not in use by another campaign. That also keeps it on brand with your event. 

However, your keyword shouldn’t be anything too difficult to spell, easy to forget, or otherwise prone to donors mistaking for something else.

3. Make a Timely Ask

Text to donate is an excellent way to tap into time-sensitive giving and create community urgency around your campaign. You can use the power of text to donate to encourage donations during a fundraising event, when a donation match is announced on a campaign, or for other specific initiatives.

When you prompt your supporters with a specific action, you encourage an engaged audience to participate rather than just spamming phones.

4. Promote Text to Donate Widely

It’s one thing to have access to the text to donate feature and another to make sure your supporters take advantage of it. Make sure to promote your text to donate option widely. Some ways to spread the word include:

  • Information in event RSVPs, flyers, and reminders
  • Instructions on how to text to donate in social media posts
  • Reminders from event emcees about how to use the feature
  • Updates about the feature in your email marketing

Classy’s Text to Donate Platform

Nonprofits can use Classy Live to leverage the power of Text-to-Donate. The process is easy with just a few steps:

  1. Define the keyword for your event on Classy Live. 
  2. Have supporters text the keyword plus the amount they want to donate to your specified long-code number. For example: Text “MYEVENT 50” to 888-555-1234 to donate $50.
  3. Once supporters send the text, they’ll quickly receive a mobile-friendly URL in return to click on and enter their payment details to finish the donation. The URL is a Classy Live-powered donation form that will display the same background image as your event and include:
  • Pre-configured donations options along with the ability to enter a custom amount
  • Standard “your information” details (first name, last name, email)
  • Standard card payment details (card number, expiration date, security code, billing contact information)

Learn more about Classy Live’s features, from Text-to-Donate to the Classy Live Mobile App, paddle raising functionality, and table seating management, Classy Live offers a variety of event management tools to power your virtual and hybrid experiences. 

Increase Donor Stewardship and Event-Based Giving With Text to Donate

Text to donate is a great way to meet your donors where they are with an easy donation option at your next event. Take advantage of the ubiquity of cell phone usage to fundraise without compromising opportunities for donor stewardship. 

Text to donate allows you to keep telling your nonprofit’s story while allowing donors to give when and how much they want.


Bring Text to Donate to Your Fundraising Event

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