Mobile Giving: An Intro

Today’s topic is mobile giving.

Mobile giving is an important tool for a nonprofit organization’s individual giving strategy. According to this article at Nonprofit Source:

  • 25% of donors complete their donations on mobile devices
  • 51% of people who visit a nonprofit’s website do so from a mobile device


Mobile giving can be separated into a few different areas, such as:

  • Text-to-Give/Donate (SMS Donations) – Texting a keyword to a phone number to give money. Both options are great for events, virtual and in-person alike.
  • Scan to Give – Scan a QR code that leads to a donation form.
  • Outbound SMS – SMS serves as a mass communication channel similar to email. It may convey information or have a call-to-action to donate. Retail stores often use this to give discounts and share sales.

Today, I am focusing on SMS Donations. In a future post, I may detail how one might set this up in Salesforce using an external (paid) tool.

Text-to-Give versus Text-to-Donate

When choosing a provider

Text-to-Give means texting a keyword to a phone number and the donation being added to your cellphone bill.


  • Simple experience – one step and no forms.
  • Does not require Internet access, only cell service.
  • Presumably less cart abandonment since there’s just one step.


  • Works in pre-determined small amounts, so giving capacity is limited.
  • Delay in receiving the funds.
  • Donor data can be sparse, may need to set up flows to get additional data later.
  • Can be costly – important to make sure there is ROI here.

Implementation Options:

Text-to-Donate means texting a keyword to a phone number and receiving a link to a mobile-responsive donation form via SMS. This form can be accessed via a browser.


  • Richer donor data.
  • Can donate any amount.
  • Can get funds more quickly since they come in through a regular payment processor.


  • Need to be connected to Wifi or use data.
  • More steps for the donor.
  • If the donor thinks that the functionality is like text-to-give, they may think that by texting, they have already made the donation. This can be remedied to some extent by writing clear copy, but there will always be people who are just not paying attention.

Options for Implementation:

  • Text-to-Give Software: Text-to-give software is available. We were impressed by Zoomgive.
    • Pro: Likely provides analytics, and attractive mobile-first donation forms. They know mobile-first best practices and are mobile-first.
    • Con: Requires integration with CRM. Also sometimes not a lot of room for form customization (e.g. adding tribute options). Finally, there are likely fees associated so the ROI needs to make this option “worth it”.
  • Salesforce SMS and Donation Form: Use an SMS provider (we had SMS Magic for other purposes) to create a keyword automation that sends donor a mobile-responsive donation form (we use Formstack right now)
    • Pro: Easy integration into Salesforce for donation logging, since you are using an existing donation form. Inexpensive.
    • Con: May need automation chops, depending on which SMS tool you use. Also can be clunkier than an out-of-box solution.
  • Another SMS tool and Donation Form – We once used Mobomix and our regular donation form. We purchased some SMS credits and a keyword for $10/month and were off to the races.
    • Pro: Inexpensive. Easy-to-implement tool. Includes short code (see caveats below).
    • Con: Sometimes you may not get the keyword you want. Also, you are sharing a short-code phone number with other companies.

A Quick Note on Short Codes

Short codes are 5-6-digit phone numbers like “55055”. They are very convenient for text-to-give and mass communication purposes, compared to long toll-free numbers like 1-888-230-1204. They are easier for the donor to type, have higher message throughput, and can be customized to a brand.

However, there are downsides to the short codes. To get a dedicated short code for your company can cost up to $12,000 per year. Many companies share short codes (for instance, a restaurant might have the same short code as a clothing store.). Also, cell phone carriers are getting stricter about short code spam and urging SMS marketers to switch to toll-free long codes.


Text-to-Give and Text-to-Donate both have pros and cons, and the decision of one over the other depends on your use case and budget.

Thanks for reading. If this was helpful, would love to hear from you! And feel free to send me any questions, comments, or corrections.

Additional Reading