Personalization is extremely important when it comes to building relationships with donors. And it goes without saying, that if your nonprofit has a good relationship with your donors, they are much likelier to stay associated with your organization.
So when it comes to laying the foundation for a strong and healthy bond, how do you ensure you establish a personal connection with not a few of your donors but with all of them? You use text messaging, and more specifically, peer-to-peer texting to communicate effectively with your donor base.
But while everyone knows what texting is, you might be wondering what peer to peer texting actually is.
This form of texting is focused on relationship-building. Here, your volunteers, or agents, send out an initial batch of texts to your donors and then engage in back and forth conversation with them once their replies start coming in, building a bond in the process. This is very different from regular texting which is largely generic in nature and where donors are aware that they are just another name on a contact list.
When it comes to fundraising, peer to peer texting helps nonprofits in several ways:
- You can have personalized conversations…at scale: Volunteers can text 100 donors or 1000 donors, while simultaneously having a conversation with each of them. This is great for optimizing your time while building valuable connections.
- High open rates: Text messages have a high open rate of 98%. This pretty much guarantees your donors would actually read your first message.
- Perfect for follow-ups: An important part of fundraising is following up with your donors in case they’ve forgotten to donate, or thanking them for contributing to your cause. Through p2p texting, you can send a message which banks on previous conversation history to ensure you come off as sincere and genuine.
- Accessible: 77% of US adults own a smartphone. This means that a majority of your donors are using smartphones too. By communicating with them via text, you’re ensuring you stay connected with them and are less likely to get ignored.
Now that we have a brief idea of what peer to peer texting is and how it can help your fundraising campaign, let’s dive into how nonprofits can using this tool for raising funds.
Peer-To-Peer Texting: Communicating With Potential Donors
You’ve obtained a potential donor’s contact details either through a sign-up form on your website or when someone registered for an event. You want to (at some point), get them to donate, but you can’t ask them immediately as you haven’t built any sort of relationship with them yet.
This is where you’d use p2p (peer-to-peer) texting—to establish the first touchpoint for your communication, and then build from there to the ask. You get your staff or volunteers to send out all your initial texts and then, you simply wait for the replies to come in. Depending on your type of messaging, you’d get a 10-30% response rate.
An example of the first conversation would look like this:
“Hey Jon, this is Melinda from Hope Society. Thanks for showing interest in our cause. Educating children is something we passionately believe in. Would you be interested in learning more about the work that we do? 😀
“Sure, I’d love that.”
“Awesome! So, I’ve sent you a link: [link] Here, you’ll get to know everything about Hope Society and our recent campaigns. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, okay?”
See what happened here? A personal conversation took place between your volunteer and a potential donor, planting the seed for a future relationship. The best part is, your volunteers don’t even have to type out these replies. Most p2p tools let you save templated replies which are already populated with the recipient’s name, so volunteers just have to hit the send button.
Since these peer to peer texting tools integrate with nonprofit databases, you can segment potential donors from the rest by adding them to a separate list and then contacting them with relevant communication. Let’s assume Jon is an interested donor. The next conversation would focus on making a small ask from him.
“Hey Jon, guess what? We’re having an informational event next week on the 10th of February at 6 pm in Saint Mary’s Park. Wanna come? There’s going to be free food and a fun crowd! 👌”
“Sure, I’d love to. Wait, is it a free event or do I need to buy a ticket?”
“Awesome. The event is going to be like our food—free! Can’t wait to see you!”
“Cool. And I’m bringing my friends too.”
A major pain point for nonprofits is figuring out how to make their donors feel included. Peer to peer texting helps you overcome this issue since you can actually have back and forth conversations with donors that feels natural and, well, human.
Now that you’ve made the first ask, and know that Jon is going to attend your event, you can tag him as a “potential donor” in your database.
Peer-To-Peer Texting: Making The Fundraising Ask
Once you’ve built a relationship with your donor, you can go ahead and make the fundraising ask. Adopt the same conversational tone you used in your previous interactions and see how the conversation progresses. For first-time donors, ensure that you only ask for a small amount so you don’t come off as being greedy.
Also, tell them how their contribution is going to help so they’d be more enthusiastic about donating. Getting people to part with their money is a major problem that nonprofits typically face, so this point is something you shouldn’t ignore.
“Hey Jon, this is Melinda from Hope Society. We’ve almost reached our fundraising goal of $5,000 for our Hope for Children campaign. Can I send you a link to make a $10 donation?”
“What exactly would my money be used for?”
“I’m glad you asked that. Every donation we get for this campaign goes towards building schools for children aged 8 to 15 in central Ethiopia. If you would like some more information, please visit our website [link] or I can put you in touch with one of our campaign directors.”
“Oh alright. Sure, I’d love to contribute!”
“Great! Here’s your link to make the donation [link]. Thanks a ton for your support! We’ll keep you posted about our happenings.”
You’d now mark Jon as a ‘donor’ in your database and can nurture him further to solidify your relationship and get him to become a recurring donor.
Note: For loyal donors who’ve made several contributions in the past, you can even reference details of your previous conversation so that a sense of connectivity is present—most tools let you view previous conversation history to facilitate this.
Also read: 5 Ways To Avoid Donor Abandonment
Peer-To-Peer Texting: Following Up And Answering Queries
Not everyone you text is going to donate to your cause. While some would agree to give, you’d see a lot of maybe’s and flat-out no’s. For the people who support your cause but aren’t interested, you’d add them to a separate list so that you don’t risk alienating them by sending them another fundraising message in the future. For the maybe’s, however, you should follow-up with another message in the future. This ensures you don’t lose out on any potential donor even if you feel like your chances are slim.
You can send a message like:
“Hey Jon, Linda from Hope Society here. We’d asked you if you could make a donation a while back but you weren’t ready to make a contribution then. The young children in Ethiopia could use your help for a brighter future. Is it possible for you to make a donation now? However, it’s okay if now is not a good time Jon, we understand.”
Follow-ups are super important to ensure you don’t miss out on anyone, and p2p is a great tool to impart a sense of humaneness to your asks.
Peer-To-Peer Texting: Thanking Your Donors, Obtaining Feedback, Talking About Impact
Thanking your donors is a vital step towards retaining them for the long run. Send your gratitude messages and then ask them if there’s anything they feel you can do better or what they particularly like about your nonprofit. By gathering this feedback you end up having a valuable repository of insights that you can work with to further improve your communication in the future.
A major problem nonprofits face is the lack of trust that donors show in them. In fact, 4 out of 10 people believe that nonprofits do not spend their money wisely. You should definitely assuage their concerns by telling them how their money was used:
“Hey Jon, thanks so much for your contribution! Because of you, our Hope for Children campaign was a rousing success—we managed to build 15 schools all over Ethiopia. We’re so grateful to have fantastic donors like you. To learn more about what we achieved, please check out this link: [link]”
Note: You can also send special offers (such as a discounted ticket to a concert) via text to your members to show that you value them and to further nurture your relationship.
P2p texting is super effective in communicating regularly with your donors and moving them along your engagement funnel until they become loyal donors. Whether you’re looking to obtain funds by…
- selling tickets to your events
- getting donors to renew their memberships
- selling nonprofit merchandise advocating your cause
- directing them to your mobile-friendly campaign donation page
Peer to peer texting has the potential to help you achieve your fundraising goals while keeping interactions intimate with each one of your donors. Combine this tool with your other channels of communication such as email, social media, and phone calls to create an effective fundraising strategy that is guaranteed to get you donors who will stay in the long run.