Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Texting for a Cause

By Mitchell Schmale

Nonprofits are often looking for creative ways to share their message, advance their missions and also raise much needed funds to help support their organizations.

In good economic times and bad, nonprofits will continue to utilize traditional fundraising techniques including capital campaigns, corporate partnerships and direct outreach to donors, to name just a few. But more nonprofits of all sizes are now trying to emulate the success of recent text messaging campaigns as an additional fundraising tool to help reach younger donors and build a donor support base for the future.

The New York Times’ Stephanie Strom wrote an interesting article recently on the challenges of launching and maintaining successful text messaging campaigns for many nonprofits.

Following the amazing success of the American Red Cross texting campaign to support Haiti in January of this year, other nonprofits realized the immense potential power of the fundraising vehicle. The text Haiti campaign raised more than $30 million, which was almost as much as all other nonprofit text campaigns in 2009 combined.

However, as The New York Times piece points out, the American Red Cross example is difficult model to replicate. Not every nonprofit is able to share the same sense of urgency, have the ongoing support of global awareness from news coverage, or have the support from other national organizations and high-profile public figures. Additionally, the ongoing cost of creating and maintaining a text campaign can be a costly expense for smaller nonprofits.

Nonetheless, I believe texting campaigns will become yet another traditional mainstay for nonprofits of all sizes to use as a fundraising tool in the future. With the help of corporate partners underwriting campaigns and the costs of launching and maintaining campaigns with mobile phone companies possibly declining in the future, nonprofits will tap into the texting craze for the long haul – at least until the next best technology-based fundraising tool comes along.

Mitchell Schmale is the Vice President of Business. Contact him at

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