Q: What does it take to change the future for students who don’t have access to affordable education?
A: Coconut shells and leather.
This is a Yuda Band:
Yuda Bands are handcrafted, fair-trade bracelets from Guatemala. Their name comes from the Spanish word for help, aid, or assistance—ayuda.
They’re made of coconut shells and leather, and they come in all kinds of different designs:
Yuda Bands is also the name of the nonprofit that made those handmade bracelets a reality. It was founded in 2009 by Brent and Laurie Whiting after they went on service trips to Guatemala and saw a huge need to help underprivileged high school students in developing countries get a good, affordable education.
Here’s how it works: High schoolers in the U.S. choose a student to sponsor. They organize a sale at their school and sell as many bracelets as possible at $7 a pop. After two weeks, the money they’ve raised goes toward a scholarship fund for the selected student.
Since Yuda Bands got started, 700 students have been sponsored through these bracelet sales. Each of those students now has a much better chance at living a healthy, fulfilling, successful life, all thanks to something that many people take for granted—an education.
Yuda Bands is a SimpleTexting customer, and a pretty awesome one at that, considering how they’re impacting lives around the world.
We were curious to learn more about how text messaging is helping them succeed, so we called up Phillip Whiting, Project Manager and Service Trip Director. Here’s what we learned.
Before and after SimpleTexting
The Yuda Bands crew travels to conferences in the U.S. throughout the year to explain their mission to high school students. The goal is for students to take the Yuda Bands idea back to their council or club and get permission to organize one of those bracelet sales.
Previously, Yuda Bands collected contact info from students using a paper form. Then, they moved that info over to an Excel spreadsheet, and from there imported it to Google Contacts. After that, they still had to text each student individually.
Yuda Bands typically counts anywhere from 50 to 300 contacts per conference, so the old process was rather time-consuming, to say the least.
But now, with a SimpleTexting account, they just use keywords and a short code to automatically collect and store all that information.
For example, check out the poster below that was displayed at one conference. DC17 is the keyword, and 555888 is the short code:
Any student who saw that poster and texted DC17 to 555888 was instantly added to a subscriber list inside Yuda Bands’ SimpleTexting account.
Goodbye, Excel. Au revoir, Google Contacts!
Because SimpleTexting offers an unlimited keywords policy, Yuda Bands can register a new keyword for each conference they attend. There’s no extra cost, and it’s an easy way to keep subscriber lists distinct and organized.
Here’s the bottom line: SimpleTexting makes it super easy for Yuda Bands to manage contacts and communicate with their subscribers.
And it saves a ton of time.
Being able to have a keyword that students text in, and to automatically capture all that info, and then to come home and not spend three days inputting contacts … that just saves hours and hours! And having those unlimited keywords—that was what really did it for us.
A glance inside the Yuda Bands texting machine
Yuda Bands uses scheduling and auto-confirmation messages to maximize efficiency in their text communications.
With scheduling, they can simply write their text campaigns and select a future time and date to send automatically. Once a campaign goes live, they’ll start getting notifications anytime a subscriber responds.
With auto-confirmation messages, they can create automatic replies for each keyword in their SimpleTexting account. The minute a new subscriber texts in to one of Yuda Bands’ keywords, that subscriber will get an automated text response with additional information.
For example, here’s the auto-confirmation message that was sent to anyone who texted in to that DC17 keyword:
What’s 20 hours of work worth to you?
For Yuda Bands, it’s a no-brainer—paying for a SimpleTexting plan to automate their process is well worth the cost.
There’s plenty to be done down the road, of course. While mulling over future plans, Whiting mentioned the possibility of building a mass text marketing list for communicating important updates to all subscribers, instead of juggling a bunch of individual conference lists, like they’re doing now.
Whiting also expressed interest in a having mobile app for SimpleTexting:
I’m excited for when you finally get an app out—that’ll be amazing.
Well, by golly, we’ve got one of those coming down the pipeline!
Oh, and incidentally, we’re building it out of coconut shells and leather.
Hey, thanks for reading our story about Yuda Bands! If you liked this one, you might like some of the other Success Stories we’ve written, too.
Check out our industry guide for more examples of how nonprofits can use text messaging: Text Message Marketing for Nonprofits. If you like what you see, why not sign up for a free trial and give SimpleTexting a shot?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out Yuda Bands! They really are doing some cool stuff. (If you’re already sold, you can just go straight to their sign-up form here.) Curious to see how those bracelets are made? Have a look at this video. Yuda Bomb!!