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What Is Text-to-Donate Fundraising? (Incl. Pros & Cons)

Author: Adie M.

Has your NPO ever tried text-to-donate fundraising? Mobile platforms, along with digital strategies like online auctions, are providing charities across the globe with incredible reach. 

These days, anyone with a mobile can become a donor right from the palm of their hand. If you give them the opportunity to do so, that is. 

All kinds of charities and NPOs are using text as an invaluable part of their outreach programs to new and prospective donors. 

Here is a look at what this process entails. 

Text-To-Donate VS Text-To-Give  

It’s easy to assume that the terms ‘text-to-donate’ and ‘text to give’ are synonymous. After all, in the charitable industry, ‘giving’ and ‘donating’ are interchangeable terms. However, when it comes to this type of mobile technology, there is a difference. 


Text-to-donate refers to a mobile process whereby a donor fills in a mobile form to contribute a donation of any size. They either send a text message with the relevant code or keyword, or receive a text message from a given charity. Then, they are linked to an online form for payment. Once they fill in their details, the donation is complete. 

The big drawing card of this option is that there is no set amount that a benefactor has to donate. They can contribute what they are able to by setting up custom amounts. 

In fact, you could also provide them with the opportunity to set up recurring donation amounts while they are at it. 


Text-to-give, on the other hand, works through a mobile carrier or service provider. Like text-to-donate campaigns, this method also hinges on a 'short code' and keyword. Donors text this keyword to a given number to donate a certain amount. Instead of it going out of the bank accounts, the mobile service provider adds the donation to their phone bill and pays it to the charity. 

This process is very simple and quite attractive for new donors. This is because they don't have to type in their details or fill in any information at all. 

However, not every charity might be eligible for campaigns like these. Mobile carriers have certain qualifying criteria in place that must be adhered to. 

DID YOU KNOW? According to recent statistics, up to 66% of the entire world population now have a cell phone. This means that there are 5.28 billion people around the globe who own and use a mobile device on a near daily basis. As such, it only makes sense to provide them with the means to donate to your cause using this handy channel. 

Woman sitting on couch and smiling at phone

Is This Method Right For Your Organization?  

Now, text-to-donate campaigns aren’t for everyone. So, let’s explore the pros and cons. 

The Pros of Text-to-Donate

It's fast and easy. Most people don't have a lot of time in the day to look up a website and read more about your organization. However, they may feel a kinship with your cause when they read or hear about it in popular media. 

This is where text-to-donate is a great tool. It allows them to act on their impulse to donate immediately, right from the palm of their hand. All they need to do is send a text to get the process started. 

TOP TIP: When your organization decides to embrace mobile tech, it’s important to ensure that your website is responsive. This means that it has the functionality to adapt for effortless viewing on a mobile device. 

It can provide your organization with very valuable data. Since a given NPO can set up countless campaigns, the text-to-donate process can also be used to generate very insightful donor data. For instance, the codes or keywords you distribute via your social media pages can differ from those that are used in print media, or over radio. 

This way, you will be able to tell which channels are most frequently used by individuals who are likely to donate to your cause. Once this data is in play, it becomes easier to decide how to spend your ad budget for future campaigns. 

In fact, you can also use this approach for A/B testing. This helps to measure the effectiveness of your marketing messaging. E.g. One ad might lean into the seriousness of your cause, while another could be more upbeat - focussing on the benefits of your involvement in the community. Tracking the text codes can then tell you which ad inspired more donations. 

The Cons of Text-to-Donate

The process might not be attractive to all segments of your donor pool. For instance, you may find that more mature donors don’t quite ‘trust’ mobile technology, and prefer to do things the tried and tested way by means of a cheque, or perhaps a recurring debit order. 

So, it’s best to use text-to-donate as an add-on to existing giving campaigns, rather than your only platform. 

Additionally, the UX of your mobile giving platform also has to be very sleek for it to work well. As soon as you go the texting route, there are many points of friction that can occur. 

If the form takes too long to load, has too many entry fields, or ‘loses’ user data when it reloads, you may lose prospective donors along the way. As such, it’s imperative to do a lot of beta testing before you roll out your campaign.

Person in white shirt on mobile phone


Text-to-donate is a great option for innovative NPOs and charities that want to give new and existing donors the opportunity to contribute to their cause with absolute ease. However, it does differ from text to give, which you implement by means of a mobile carrier. 

The process has pros and cons. It’s a great option because it’s fast and easy, and can provide your organization with valuable donor data. 

However, be sure not to alienate less tech-savvy segments of your donor pool by using text as your sole donation platform. Also, test the UX of your mobile donation platform a lot before rolling out. This way, you won’t lose out on donations due to unexpected points of user friction.