more on text-to-give

Over the weekend the Oneicity “backchannel” was full of conversation about text giving and an ad campaign in Austin, Texas. Last week I’d blogged about my thinking on the perils of text giving. Last week news broke about a nice campaign called “I Am Here” by Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Great concept — raise visibility for a ministry to the homeless by actually putting a homeless man on a billboard on the busy I35 corridor in Austin (I’ve driven the 35 and it is chilling to imagine people texting to give while driving that highway, but that’s another blog).

Here’s the USA Today story about it. USA Today’s has been updated with statements responding to the less than positive comments at the end of the article.

Draw your own conclusions, but here’s what I’m thinking:

1. Mobile Loaves and Fishes doesn’t seem to be a traditional brick and mortar ministry. It appears that a central part of their ministry is putting homeless people in RVs and they appear to be rather virtual and mobile themselves. This would make text giving a little more logical.

2. Mobile Loaves and Fishes still can’t cultivate a relationship with those donors who texted in their gifts. Maybe they don’t want to, but I wonder if the billboard and texting is a sustainable strategy. Mobile Loaves and Fishes is seeking traditional credit card donations on their website which leads me to think that they’d like to have a relationship with their donors. Well, text giving won’t give it to you.

3. Is this a repeatable strategy? I can’t figure out how Mobile Loaves and Fishes managed the expenses of the billboard and the ad agency that pulled it off. Maybe they have more money to spend on fundraising and PR than I would suspect. This wouldn’t have been a cheap fundraising effort.

4. What was the ROI? What were the expenses and what was the net income? You know me, I have to ask those questions.

Great campaign in terms of visibility. Lots of positive and some negative public responses. The goal was accomplished and people who responded probably feel good about what they did.

But. You know me, I want donor relationships and repeatability. What about you? What do you think about the campaign? Let me hear what you think.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: mrJasonWeaver)

Picture of Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

3 thoughts on “more on text-to-give”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention oneicity // income solutions for non-profits » more on text-to-give -- Topsy.com

  2. I think Text-2-Give can be a great way to get free advertising, and if it has a net ROI, that’s icing on the cake. Until they find a way to let you really thank the donors and communicate with them meaningfully, it’s just not going to work for acquisition. If already-acquired donors give that way, that probably really messes up reporting. But in general, as a component in a multi-channel campaign, where you are asking, thanking and updating the community as a whole via radio, news-ads and inserts, etc. I think it is just an amazing way to get people to give who might not otherwise go to the hassle of writing a check, going online etc. And when they give, they feel better about you. They feel like part of something important. They tell their friends.

  3. @April–thanks for your commnents. I completely agree that it is a great way to involve donors. Particularly younger donors and donors who are giving motivated in a moment by an event, a news story or a “need” they see. The hangup for me is thanking, tracking and re-cultivation. Those three are very dicey in the text to give world.

    Oh, and usually text to give is limited to one or two small fixed amounts that may or may not fit into an existing donor’s giving pattern–I’d hate to have a donor who typically gives at the $100 level give a text a $10 gift. Often donors “feel” the same after a $10 gift and after a $100 gift. The npos typically feel better after getting a $100 gift.

    But you’re right, there’s a place for this strategy, but using it wisely is the key for me.
    Great thinking.
    Thank you.

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