Think about how many unanswered emails you have. Now think about how many unanswered texts you have. SMS messages have tremendous power to reach your membership. Many in your audience are eager to connect with your content via mobile; cultivating your audience - and donor - relationships via this channel should be part of your membership strategy. Here's how to do it in the right way:
Start with the list you have.
If you don't have a list of mobile numbers, there’s no better time than now to get started. Many stations have had success building a mobile list by offering exclusive content or services, like news alerts for a general audience, specialty content for specific programs (book reviews, recipes, or music), or advance notice of event tickets.
Remember to make use of old lists.
Perhaps you have a list of mobile numbers from a past text-to-give campaign that you haven’t used in a while. In that case, you might explore a text re-engagement campaign where you ask your list to opt-in to content that might interest them.
Don't be afraid to ask.
Once you have your list, you’re well on your way to building mobile relationships with your listeners and members. People who have offered their numbers are very supportive of the station, so don’t shy away from fundraising.
Test using SMS fundraising messages during fundraising drives, or just after: “If you didn’t have a chance to call in or go online, use this link to give today.”
Test an SMS fundraising message around a specific theme, e.g., supporting your music broadcasts, news coverage, or local program.
Try out mobile-friendly giving.
It’s probably time to institute an “express donate” service which charges a donor’s credit card already on record at the station when they text any amount to your short code. This can be set up in coordination with your online giving form, and dramatically improves results from an SMS appeal, since it avoids requiring that the donor enter personal and credit card information.
Please note: stations that have tested a “text-to-give” campaign, where your station receives donations through cell phone carriers, have generally been disappointed by small returns. Successful campaigns are those in which you can receive gifts in any amount given directly to your station, receiving complete donor contact information.