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Getting Started with P2P Texting for Annual Giving

Since 2017, GetThru has worked with more than 300 colleges, universities, and independent schools to help them reach their goals by leveraging P2P texting.

Rachel Cleary

Senior Sales Manager, Education and Nonprofits

Overview


While peer-to-peer (P2P) texting is a relatively new tool in annual giving, it's proven itself to be a powerful addition to any fundraising and development program. Since 2017, GetThru has worked with more than 300 colleges, universities, and independent schools to help them reach their goals by leveraging P2P texting. Schools like Vassar College and University of California, Berkeley have seen extraordinary success using texting to fundraise. If your school is ready to take the leap into the texting world, this post will cover the basics of getting started with P2P texting for annual giving. 


For a deeper dive, take a look at our Education page, which includes case studies from some of our partner schools.


Use Cases


GetThru’s P2P texting platform, ThruText, is a fast, efficient, and affordable tool - and it’s also extremely flexible. Schools use ThruText for a wide variety of communications to alumni, students, donors, and parents. Here are a few annual giving-specific use cases:

  • LYBUNT and SYBUNT renewals
  • Non-donor or lapsed donor acquisition
  • Pledge fulfillment
  • Texting before phonathon calling, asking donors if they’d prefer to give online
  • Texting after direct mail drop, letting donors know to look out for a letter
  • Stewardship and donor acknowledgement
  • Engagement
  • Event invitations and reminders
  • Athletics fundraising and fan engagement
  • Alumni association member engagement and membership renewals
  • Giving days and Giving Tuesday
  • Fiscal year-and calendar year-end outreach and renewals


The possibilities are endless, but we recommend a holistic texting strategy. Make sure to text about a variety of topics, not just solicitations, so that your alumni and donors know that texting is just an additional channel for connection. Pro tip: plan to do an engagement texting campaign a month prior to giving days to warm up your list!


Strategy


As with any channel, strategy is key. We recommend planning your texting campaigns with the same level of care that you’d bring to to phonathon or direct mail. Here are a few best practices:


  • Make texting part of your annual fund/development calendar. Scheduling campaigns ahead of time gives you more time to pull a list, create detailed segmentation, and craft engaging messaging. (That being said, it’s really easy to create a new campaign in ThruText - most folks can get a list uploaded, campaign created, and their first message sent out within 30 minutes!)
  • Make texting a consistent channel in your outreach plans. We find that texting provides a clear lift to other channels, so including a texting component with giving days or as part of direct mail, email, or phonathon outreach is a great way to ensure that your message is heard.
  • Segmentation is critical. Just like direct mail or email, folks respond best when messages are targeted and relevant. When planning a texting campaign think about how to segment your audience and adjust messaging accordingly, factoring giving history, class year, affinity information, and more.
  • Texting can be a team effort! Does your alumni relations, career services, or events office have great programming coming up? Let your alumni and donors know! You can connect with other offices on campus to help them spread the word about their work - and in the process provide engaging content for your text audiences.


Messaging

A key factor in a successful texting campaign is an engaging first message. One best practice for ensuring high response rates is to avoid including a giving link in the first message, and instead it with a question. Here’s an example:

“Hi First Name! This is Sender Name from School Name. Thanks so much for your last gift of Last Gift Amount in 2019. Can we count on you to renew your support today?”


Ending your first message with a question helps recipients understand they’re talking to a real human, and makes them more likely to reply to your initial message. Additionally, you can include as many Custom Fields as you’d like in your texting campaigns - the above message provides an example of how these can look in practice for a solicitation campaign.

A critical component of successful campaigns is building out a strong script ahead of time. You can set up as many Recommended Replies as you’d like so that your texters don’t have to type a brand new response every time. Check out this ThruText strategy guide on suggested scripts for education fundraising campaigns.


Data collection


ThruText allows for complex, fully-customizable data collection through our Surveys feature. Surveys are internal, and are only seen by you and your texters. Your texters fill out the Surveys as they go through conversations, and the results are pushed to reports that you can pull from ThruText after your campaign is over.


In a fundraising campaign, you might want to include the following survey questions with potential answers:

  • Will the donor give? (Yes, No, Maybe)
  • Opt out reason (Wrong Number, Do Not Text, Unknown)
  • Refusal reason (Financial, Ill Feelings, Already Gave, Unknown)


You can also set up a freeform survey question to use for collecting updated contact information or key notes from the conversation.


Conclusion


GetThru has a dedicated team working with our education clients, and we are passionate about helping educational institutions leverage texting to meet fundraising and engagement goals. If you’d like to learn more, click here to book a demo - we’re excited to chat with you about potential texting at your school! And if you’re already a ThruText Education client, you can always schedule a strategy session with our team by writing to education@getthru.io


Happy texting!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Cleary

Before GetThru, Rachel spent years in higher education and non-profit fundraising. She now brings that experience to our education clients, where she provides strategic support and sales expertise. Outside of work, you can find her listening to Broadway musicals, making pasta from scratch, or hanging out with her dog, Sadie (sometimes all at the same time!).

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