How to Do SMS Marketing: A Mini-Guide for Nonprofits

June 19, 2024 0 Comments

In today’s world, where there’s no shortage of content and media to consume, your nonprofit must do everything it can to stand out amid the noise. There are many donors out there who feel strongly about your cause—it’s only a question of how you’ll reach them. With the number of global smartphone users rapidly rising, estimated to hit 6.4 billion in 2029, it’s no surprise that many nonprofits are embracing the power of SMS marketing.

In this mini-guide, we’ll discuss all the basics you need to know to develop an SMS marketing strategy that will broaden your organization’s reach and strengthen your donor relationships. We’ll cover the benefits, steps to get started, and how to incorporate SMS into your overall marketing strategy.

By staying on top of technology trends and engaging your donors in more personalized, convenient ways, your nonprofit can adapt to an increasingly noisy society and come out on top.

What are the benefits of SMS marketing for nonprofits?

Many people don’t stray more than a few feet from their smartphones during the day. The same can’t be said for computers or mailboxes. This means that, if your nonprofit is trying to connect with more donors and stay at the top of their minds, SMS marketing is the way to go.

Mogli’s SMS marketing guide goes into more detail about the specific benefits of this channel:

The benefits of SMS marketing for nonprofits, as discussed in more detail below.

  • High open rate. The average text message has an open rate of 98%. The average email open rate for nonprofits, on the other hand, is only 28.59%.
  • High click-through rate. On average, SMS promotions have an average click-through rate of 19%, which is much higher than that of emails (2.6%).
  • Easy to send. Effective texts are typically 160 characters or less. Because of their short length, your team won’t have to spend hours crafting compelling messages for your audience. Plus, many SMS tools have automation features that make it easy to send only the most relevant texts to each of your donors.
  • Easy to read. Texts are short and to the point, allowing your recipients to almost immediately understand what you’re asking them to do and take action.

SMS can open a world of promising possibilities for your nonprofit. Sending event reminders, surveys, and thank-you notes are just a few of the many donor engagement strategies you can carry out through SMS.

How do you get started with SMS marketing?

Before you can begin tapping into all the benefits of SMS marketing, you first need to equip your team with the tools and knowledge they need to make use of the channel.

Follow these steps to hit the ground running with your SMS marketing strategy:

  1. Choose an SMS marketing solution. Look for software that supports one-to-one and bulk messaging, audience segmentation, automation, and reporting. To produce even more attention-grabbing texts, some tools enable you to send multimedia (MMS) content including images, videos, and GIFs.
  2. Build your contact list. Allow people to opt into receiving text messages from your nonprofit by including a phone number field in your donation and event registration forms. To maintain compliance and cultivate trust with donors, only text those who have willingly provided you with their phone number and include a clear way to opt out of your texts.
  3. Segment your SMS audience. SMS is a highly personal channel, which means it’s important for your nonprofit to send messages that resonate with each recipient. Segment your audience by characteristics such as location, interests, and involvement history to increase the chances they’ll engage with your texts.

Once you’re ready to start communicating with your donors, plan a variety of SMS content to maintain their interest and encourage them to get involved. For instance, you might send a text encouraging audience members to check their eligibility for workplace giving opportunities such as matching gifts. If they learn that their employer will financially match their donations, they may decide to make a larger gift to your nonprofit to make their dollars go further.

Where does SMS fit into an overall marketing strategy?

According to Getting Attention, a successful marketing strategy requires a multichannel approach, with each channel supporting the others. Despite the many merits of SMS, you shouldn’t create your text marketing content in a vacuum. Instead, you can use it in conjunction with these channels to boost your results:


Your nonprofit’s website is a go-to resource for anyone interested in learning about your mission, impact, and ways to contribute. Collect more SMS opt-ins by adding a phone number field across all of your online forms. You can also add a basic text opt-in form in prominent areas such as your home and landing pages.

Then, in your text messages, you can drive traffic back to your website by linking to new blog posts and reminding your audience to register for upcoming events on your calendar. 


Many nonprofits use emails to solicit donations, share updates, say “thank you,” and more. You can combine both email and text marketing efforts by:

  • Adding your contact number and opt-in keyword to email newsletters.
  • Emailing an event invitation, then texting a reminder to register closer to the date.
  • Automating SMS follow-up messages based on email actions, such as clicking on a link.

Keep in mind that text messages and emails have different strengths that can support each other. By blending email and text marketing and playing to these strengths, you and your donors can get the best of both worlds.

Social Media

Through social media, your nonprofit can open up two-way communication with followers and construct a tight-knit community online. Take advantage of your network by creating posts discussing the benefits of opting into your text contact list. For example, you might share something like, “Be the first to know about our latest updates, events, and volunteer opportunities. Text SEALIFE to 12345 to sign up for our text alerts 🌊”

To strengthen your social media presence with SMS, you can send texts encouraging donors to join discussions in your social media group, share your content with friends and family, and more.

SMS marketing has the potential to expand your nonprofit’s audience and help you create personalized donor experiences that will keep them invested in your mission. By choosing a text marketing solution that integrates with your donor database, such as a Salesforce SMS app if you use Salesforce for Nonprofits, you can automatically pull data from your SMS interactions to improve your donor profiles and strengthen your marketing results over time.