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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. There are 307 million smartphone users in the United States as of 2022 and an average cell phone user interacts with their device more than 2,000 times a day.¹

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.²

Text-to-donate is a fundraising tool you can leverage to engage your audience through their 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 categories of mobile fundraising.

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

One of many effective and efficient donor engagement strategies, text-to-donate leverages the popularity of text messaging to connect 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 want to donate to that advertised cause. However, they are not directed to a donation page through that text. 

Instead, by texting the number, they agree 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 mobile fundraising 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 to maximize donor engagement and mobile 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. ​​Examples of nonprofit payment processing options may include 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 allow nonprofits to connect more deeply with their supporters.

Text-to-donate, on the other hand, allows you to tell your story and showcase your nonprofit’s 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 can also collect valuable donor data they wouldn’t receive through text-to-give donations. This in turn can play a significant role in improving donor management processes as new supporters join your cause with the click of a button.

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, fundraising 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.³

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 allows 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 mobile device 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. 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 information.

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

For additional insights, check out these 7 Essential Tips to Make Your Nonprofit Mobile-Friendly.

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 fundraising 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 ensure 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 in-person, virtual, and hybrid event 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 mobile device usage to fundraise without compromising opportunities for donor stewardship. 

Article Sources:

  1. “25+ INCREDIBLE US SMARTPHONE INDUSTRY STATISTICS [2023],” Zippia, last modified March 2, 2023,
  2. “44 Mind-Blowing SMS Marketing and Texting Statistics,” SlickText, last modified January 23, 2023,
  3. “The Ultimate List Of Charitable Giving Statistics For 2023,” NP Source, last accessed April 10, 2023,
woman in white shirt and glasses looking at cell phone

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