Do’s and Don’ts of Texting Donors

Dear Kim,

I am wondering about texting our current and lapsed donors to ask for money? We have a donor base that tends to be young and we have lot of phone numbers (sometimes we have a cell number and not a snail mail address). I think this would work well because it is much more efficient than writing and calling and a lot of people don’t use their phone for calling anymore. My ED wants me to check with someone else. What do you think?

~Times are changing

Dear Times,

It is true is that most of us are not on our phones nearly as much as we were even five years ago. Texting and email have replaced many phone calls and so wondering whether texting can replace fundraising phone calls is logical.

The answer is complicated, though. Bear in mind something that will never change: the purpose of fundraising is to build relationships. Certainly texting can be used to build relationships with donors who text. Confirming a meeting with a donor? Text is fine. Quick thank you when you receive a gift, before you have had time to write a proper formal thank you? Texting works. I imagine (although I never done this) that following up on an email that asked for a small amount of money when the money is needed in a hurry could be done by text. But I would personally be very hesitant to text donors out of the blue asking for money.

Mobile device etiquette is constantly changing and what is true this year will not be true next year. However, I cringe when I read as the reason to adopt a practice with donors is because it is efficient. Some things need to be efficient—airports or lines at the bank, for example. But relationships are not efficient—that word is inappropriate in that context. Can you imagine saying to your donors, “We’d like to deal with you as efficiently as possible. This means we need to spend the least amount of time to get the maximum amount of money.” It doesn’t sound right, does it? So if you wouldn’t say it to them, don’t say it about them.

I would love to hear from other readers about their experiences with texting current donors: do’s and don’ts. Thanks for writing.

~Kim Klein