Your higher education institution relies on alumni support to power your academic programs, research opportunities, scholarships for incoming students, and so much more. To build strong relationships with your former students and turn them into loyal donors, you need a compelling fundraising strategy.
This is where text-to-give becomes a critical tool to have on hand: Text-to-give, unlike other fundraising methods, allows you to reach supporters directly with your donation appeals and feel confident that they’ll read your messages (and act on them). In fact, text messages have a 99% open rate and a 90% read rate within only three minutes of sending them!
To make text-to-give a central part of your fundraising plan, you’ll need the right tools and strategies. A comprehensive text-to-give platform can empower your college or university to send inspiring messages to thousands of recipients at once.
Equipped with a user-friendly text messaging solution, you can easily carry out these strategies:
- Build your contact list
- Create compelling text messages
- Use segmentation
Your alumni may have left your institution, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer able to contribute to your college or university. With a text messaging campaign, you can remind your former students of how they can continue to advocate for and support your institution, securing a bright future for current and incoming students.
Build your contact list
To get the ball rolling on your text-to-give campaign, you’ll need your alumni to opt in to receiving your text messages. A robust contact list will help you grow your alumni connections and bring in as much revenue as possible. Tatango’s guide to higher education texting recommends taking a multichannel approach to promote your short- or long-code and keyword so you can effectively reach your alumni.
Consider using the following platforms to get the word out about your text-to-give campaign:
- Alumni website. If your school has an alumni website, you likely have thousands of site visitors each year hoping to learn about ways to reconnect with your institution and deepen their involvement. Create a dedicated text-to-give landing page with instructions on how to opt into your campaign. You can also add a phone number field to your online donation form along with an acknowledgment checkbox that says, “By providing your phone number, you consent to receive text messages.”
- Alumni social media groups. Many of your alumni are likely a part of your university’s LinkedIn or Facebook groups to learn about regional meetups, upcoming alumni events on campus, and networking opportunities. You can also use these social groups to post about your text-to-give campaign and highlight the many benefits of opting in, such as getting updates about your university directly on their phones and the convenience of donating anywhere, at any time.
- Email. Use your alumni database to compose a mass email to all of your former students and encourage them to sign up for text-to-give. Make sure to outline clear instructions and explain how you’ll use the funds donated to improve your school for today’s and tomorrow’s students.
As you carry out your marketing strategy, actively track relevant metrics so you can assess your performance. According to Double the Donation’s guide to digital marketing, your organization should look at key performance indicators like delivery rate and opt-out rate, web page views and bounce rates, email open and click-through rates, and social media likes and shares. Leverage tools like your text messaging platform, Google Analytics, and email software to collect data insights and optimize your marketing approach.
Create compelling text messages
To connect with your alumni and encourage them to give, you need to send inspiring text messages. Simply sending a quick message asking to “Donate today!” will leave you with very few donations and a missed opportunity to strengthen your alumni partnerships. Instead, you need to leverage your alumni’s emotional connection to your university and tap into storytelling to develop a reliable revenue stream.
When creating inspiring text messages that tell compelling stories, keep these tips in mind:
- Highlight a protagonist. A protagonist gives your alumni someone to root for and allows them to understand how their funds will lead to tangible change. For example, if your college or university is raising money for financial aid, you might briefly tell the story of a first-generation college student named Taylor who was able to complete her degree thanks to alumni’s support. Then, explain how alumni can help more students like Taylor access the same educational opportunities they had.
- Use high-impact visuals. Photos, videos, and gifs can enhance your messages and stir up alumni’s passion for your school. You might include a photo of the student in your story, share a video of students conducting cancer research thanks to alumni donations, or include a gif of your institution’s mascot thanking alumni for their ongoing support.
- Stick to a single call to action. Focus each text message on a single call to action so alumni clearly understand what you’re asking of them and can easily complete this next action. For example, if you’re marketing your upcoming alumni homecoming event and want alumni to register and donate, split these two asks into separate text messages.
Your text messages should also be brief, so communicate your point quickly and make sure your call to action is straightforward. If you want to direct your alumni to learn more about a given subject, add a mobile-friendly link that will take them to your dedicated text-to-give landing page, your event landing page, or other relevant resources.
Segmentation is the process of breaking down your contact list into subgroups based on similar characteristics. This way, you can create donation requests that are highly tailored to the recipient, increasing the likelihood that they’ll take action.
With the help of a robust text-to-give platform, you can easily segment your contact list based on a variety of factors, such as:
- Donation frequency, recency, and amount
- Recency of opting in to your campaign
- Area of study at your school
To add another layer of personalization to your texts, use your text messaging platform to automatically greet each recipient with their first name. This helps your organization deliver a more authentic one-on-one communication experience with each recipient, allowing your alumni to feel seen and valued by your institution. As a result, you’ll be able to steward strong relationships and motivate more alumni to give.
Text-to-donate is one of the best ways to grow your fundraising strategy quickly, reach your supporters where they are, and build lifelong partnerships with your alumni. Remember to thank your donors immediately after they give and let them know how their contributions make a difference. This recognition will help to bring in more donations for your school and build a loyal donor base among your alumni.