Nonprofit text messaging: How to engage your supporters with SMS

Want to learn how nonprofit text messaging works? This guide outlines how to save time and money on sending text messages for your organization.

Despite differing missions, services, and scope, all nonprofits have to focus on one thing to sustain growth: reliable communication.

Discovering more efficient ways to engage your donors and those you serve is the cornerstone of nonprofit marketing. With text marketing, you can send custom messages to all of your supports at once with no delays and at a low cost.

Why do nonprofits use texting? 

Maybe you need to reach an audience that doesn’t always have access to email. Or perhaps you’re looking for a more efficient way to reach larger audiences with one message. 

Either way, a reliable communication platform is crucial. 

Luckily, mass texting has been proven to drive results in businesses across all industries. Check out the numbers:

Nonprofits around North America use SimpleTexting to reach their audience for use cases:

  • Donation drives
  • Send mass texts to clients, team members, and more
  • Send advocacy texts to supporters
  • Volunteer texting
  • Share donation appeals and updates
  • Reduce pledge defaults with automated reminders
  • Connect quickly with staff and your BOD

Investing in a group texting service for your nonprofit can help you reach your audience faster, increase event attendance, and create stronger donor appeals.

How do nonprofits use text messaging?

Nonprofit SMS marketing can be used for both one and two-way communications, depending on your needs. For many groups, it’s a combination of both.

From sending out a simple text blast to more complex solutions developed with our API — almost anything is possible.

To give you a better idea of how nonprofit SMS works, we’ll walk you through a few of the most common use cases we see. 

Mass texting for nonprofits

Also known as group texting for nonprofit organizations, mass texting is not just a tool for marketing — it’s an essential lifeline in the bustling world of nonprofit organizations. 

Mass texting helps nonprofits stay connected to a large audience and be responsive in a way that other channels simply can’t match.

There are countless ways your team can effectively use this tool. Here are just a few:

  • Donation drives: Announce a text-to-donate fundraising campaign and follow up with progress updates to keep your supporters motivated and engaged.
  • Events reminders and updates: Send reminders for upcoming events or campaigns. In a pinch? Last-minute changes are no problem with the immediacy of SMS.
  • Volunteer coordination: The mass text is the perfect tool for coordinating with your wonderful volunteers. With just a quick SMS, gather the troops when you need them most.
  • Staff updates: Keep your internal team aligned with key updates or announcements. From meeting reminders to celebratory messages, stay connected easily.
  • Emergency alerts: When urgent situations arise, mass texting gets the message across quickly and effectively.

So whether it’s rallying donations, coordinating events, aligning volunteers, or sending critical updates, mass texting is a trusted ally in the impressive arsenal of nonprofit tools. It’s not just about saving time but enhancing the connectivity that drives your mission forward.

📚 Recommended reading: How to start texting for nonprofits

Two-way texting for nonprofits

A lot of nonprofits use texting as a way to send reminders, schedule appointments, and gather information. 

With our nonprofit messaging service, you can send text message campaigns and have one-on-one conversations with your contacts.

Consider adding a click-to-text button to your website to start more conversions with people who may need your services.

The Crisis Text Line uses an SMS keyword to connect people in need of emergency mental health assistance with access to counsel immediately. Their click-to-text button even opens the message preloaded with the phone number and keyword for you. 

Example of a click-to-text button

Many of our customers also connect their web forms to SimpleTexting so that they can automatically send a text message to interested parties. 

The benefit? Instant response times leave people feeling heard, cared for, and secure. 

Common use cases for nonprofit two-way text messaging:

  • Announcements
  • Text to give/donate
  • Volunteer communications
  • Event invites and follow-ups
  • Communicating with beneficiaries
  • Fundraising

Texting services for nonprofits

To quickly and seamlessly communicate with your staff and supporters, you’ll need a reliable nonprofit texting service. 

Imagine you’re organizing a fundraising event. Using a text message platform, you can easily send instant updates and reminders to your participants, keeping them in the loop. 

Or maybe you want to mobilize your volunteers for an urgent project — a quick SMS can get your message across promptly and effectively.

How to choose the best nonprofit text message marketing service

We’ve helped thousands of nonprofits with their SMS needs, but here’s some impartial advice, no matter which platforms you evaluate:

  • It’s not uncommon for text messaging platforms to allow you to either text one-on-one with customers or send mass texts. You want a service that lets you do both.
  • If third-party tools like Mailchimp or FundRazr are integral to your business, you’ll want to be sure you can integrate these platforms with your SMS program to send automated messages. Ideally, you’ll want a service that offers multiple SMS integrations.
  • If you offer many different services or events, you want to be sure you find a provider that doesn’t limit the number of SMS keywords you can create. (We do not.)
  • If you plan on using a nonprofit SMS service for two-way messaging with customers, you’ll want an SMS inbox with the functionality to manage multiple conversations.

Your best bet is to read reviews on third-party sites and sign up for a free trial before diving into anything.

How much does nonprofit text messaging cost?

Resources are often stretched thin at nonprofits. When it comes to promoting your cause, you don’t have the opportunity to “throw things at the wall and see what sticks.” 

Industry standard pricing can vary, depending on the features we mentioned above. But it’s the per-message price that you may find the most useful to compare with. 

It’s also worth understanding if credits roll over from one month to the next or if a discount is available for nonprofit organizations! Our discount is 15% for all 501c3 nonprofits. 😉

SimpleTexting’s mass texting service for nonprofits is both flexible and affordable. Our pricing plans are based on how many messages you intend to send monthly, and it’s easy to up or downgrade at any time. 

💡 SimpleTexting Tip: 501C3 nonprofits interested in leasing a dedicated short code for their business may qualify for a Charitable Organization discount (60% off the monthly cost). If your NPO has at least three stars on Charity Navigator and has an accredited logo on, reach out to a SimpleTexting team member for more information.

How can I get my supporters and volunteers to sign up for my texts?

Nonprofit text message marketing can help you reach the people you serve with resources, events, program updates, and more. And there are a few different ways you can do it. 

One of the simplest ways to reach a large audience with bulk messages is through keywords. An SMS keyword is a word or phrase that people can text to your nonprofit’s phone number to opt-in for messages.

What might this look like for you? 

Let’s say your nonprofit organizes summer meals for kids on free lunch programs. On the last week of school, a child hands a flier to their parents that says, “Text LUNCH to (833) 602-8038 to enroll your child in the free summer lunch program.”

Welcome to Fairy Lunch Ladies! If your child is on free or reduced price lunches, please fill out this brief form to sign them up for free lunch delivery M-F until school is back in session. [link]

This is what your subscribers would see:

FLL: Registration for our summer lunch program ends tomorrow. Take 2 minutes to register your child here: [link]
FLL: Are you still interested in receiving support but missed the registration deadline? Feel free to reply to this text, and we’ll connect you with resources!

Without the need for telephone tag or emails sent to spam, you seamlessly enrolled a child into your program in seconds. And better yet, you can follow up with parents and automatically send a series of texts using our autoresponder feature. 

Once you’ve gathered your contact list, either through keywords or by uploading a list of phone numbers that have permitted you to text them, you can send them informative text blasts in a few clicks!

For example, you could let them know about upcoming events or fundraisers. You can even include photos of event flyers to provide additional details when needed. 

I don’t have a lot of time. How can I speed things up?

Using SMS integrations can be a massive time-saver, helping you to streamline your nonprofit’s operations for greater efficiency. It's all about making your life easier by keeping everything neatly organized in one place.

Imagine having your CRM, online donation system, event sales data, and email all connected to your text messaging platform. 

Benefits of SMS integrations for nonprofits:

  • SMS integrations with your CRM can automatically update contact information and track interactions, saving you from manual data entry. 
  • Online donation tools can send instant thank you texts to donors, nurturing your relationships without extra effort. 
  • SMS integrations can boost your event attendance by sending automated reminders to attendees or link to ticket sales directly from your messages.
  • By linking your email and SMS platforms, you can coordinate your outreach efforts better and ensure a consistent message across all channels. 

So, why not explore incorporating SMS integrations into your nonprofit's communication strategies? They're designed to save you time, keep things running smoothly, and ultimately, help you focus on what really matters — making a difference in the world.

Examples of text message marketing for nonprofits in action

Mass texting can be your nonprofit’s Swiss army knife communication tool — handy for any situation. Here are some of the most common ways we’ve seen other organizations use the platform.

  • Schedule volunteers - Hello Maureen! Please reply yes to confirm your volunteer slot at Fishes and Loaves tomorrow from 11-2.
  • Answer FAQs - Hi Tracey, thanks for your question! You must be 18+ years old to volunteer generally, but we have volunteer opportunities for all ages on the first Sunday of the month.
  • Follow up with donors - Thank you for your donation! Your $10 will help purchase food for our foster kittens.
  • Share volunteer information - Thank you for confirming your volunteer slot. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and bring a water bottle with you!
  • Send pledge reminders - Hi Kim! As a reminder, your monthly pledge is due next week. Thank you for continuing to help NC Foster Care provide for children in need!
  • Communicate with staff - Hey team, quick reminder that the HR meeting has been postponed until next month!
  • Share resources with beneficiaries - Diabetes tip of the week: Get at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise 5 days a week to help manage your symptoms.
  • Promote events - The annual CLT-metro YMCA cookout is next week. Be sure to RSVP here to receive your meal voucher: [LINK]

💡 Pro tip: Add images, videos, GIFs, PDFs, and other media files to your texts with MMS messaging.

Nonprofit text messaging best practices

No matter what messages you’re sending, there are a few cardinal rules that will help steer your texts in the right direction:

  • Make it short: Text messages that are easy to digest often result in quick responses. The goal is for your texts to be skimmable.
  • Make it clear: The reader should always know who you are (send them a virtual business card so they can add you as a contact) and what you want them to do (sign up for our event, visit our site, etc.).
  • Make it personal: Data shows that text message personalization — like including the recipient’s name in a message — can lead to better responses and click-through rates.
  • Make it compliant: Brush up on important SMS compliance laws and guidelines, like getting your contacts’ permission before texting them. 

📚 Recommended reading: Tips for writing nonprofit text messages

The next step for your nonprofit’s text messaging strategy

There you have it — everything you need to know about nonprofit text marketing in one straightforward guide. 

Ready to get started? Try SimpleTexting free for 14 days — no credit card or contract required. If you like what you see, we can offer you a 15% discount when you upgrade to a paid plan.

This article was published on July 11, 2016, and was updated on September 19, 2023, by Dani Henion. Nathan Ellering contributed to this piece.