Texting in advancement-1

6 Smart Uses of Texting in Advancement

6 min read

It’s likely that you won’t answer your phone when it rings, but if your phone buzzes from an incoming text, it has your full attention. 

While texting is the preferred form of communication these days, the medium is underutilized in advancement. Texting alumni and donors can be a game-changer if done correctly.

Here are six smart uses of texting for advancement professionals:

 

1. Start Early with Current Students.

Whether current students already have a texting relationship with your institution or not, it is a good first step to send out end-of-semester and graduation information from your advancement team. This communication can lay the groundwork for lasting conversations.

Plus, a soon-to-be graduate will have plenty of valuable insight to share, helping you better engage with your entire alumni base.

Congrats <FIRST NAME>! Welcome to the <School Name> alumni family. Want to stay connected by joining our alumni network?  Let us know and we'll set you up for updates that matter to you. Reply “STOP” to no longer receive these communications. 

A relevant text is a welcome text. Interested students and grads can indicate their texting preferences (i.e. updates from athletics, alumni/ chapter events, or fundraiser initiatives). You can keep track and let alumni know exactly how you intend to text them so they won’t view your correspondence as spam.

texting preferences

2. Be Authentic with Gen Z Alums

Today’s grads run a gauntlet of incoming messages and notifications every time they pick up their phone. From updates on streaming services to offers from smoothie shops, a typical Gen Z alum will receive more than one hundred messages a day. While Gen Z alums crave information and belonging, they do not want spam. Make sure your messages are authentic, helpful, and interesting.

When they have control of incoming messages, alumni feel more involved. Allow alumni to indicate their communication preferences at a granular level - this way they're getting the info they want, how they want it. 

Sometimes less is more

When they have control of incoming messages, alumni feel more involved. Allow alumni to indicate their communication preferences at a granular level - this way they're getting the info they want, how they want it.

3. Update Your Contact Lists

Wrong numbers can slow your team down, so make sure to update your contact lists. Start by asking those who pledge during a phonathon or online if they would like to receive pledge reminders and other notifications via text. Include the option on all event registration forms, donation pages, and other communication like email and social media posts.

Be sure to ask your contacts if they want to receive text messages and always include opt-in language in the first message you send. Avoid texting contacts who are already coded as “do not phone,” "do not contact," “do not email,” etc., as they are not likely to want texts.

Perhaps, decide to focus on alumni who graduated no earlier than a certain graduation year. No matter what you do, make sure the text you send is relevant to each and every recipient. You don't want to send a Denver Chapter event notification to those in Detroit.

At Mongoose, we are happy to help our clients define their strategy for alumni outreach. Most schools have found it effective to send an introductory message and politely let them know they have the option to not receive more text messages. Ideally, you should send a link to a form where alumni can customize the types of messages they would like to receive.

Hi <FIRST NAME> this is <Alum Name> from <School Name> Alumni Relations. As a former Performing Arts major, I wanted to let you know about an alumni event coming up at our local theatre. Would you be interested in learning more? Reply “STOP” to no longer receive these communications.

4. Engage Before Asking

You wouldn't only text your friends when you need help, so why do that to alumni and donors? We recommend sending at least 3-6 non-fundraising messages to your contacts over a significant period of time before asking for their support. After all, if you want to reach fundraising goals, it takes a group effort to build a coalition of stakeholders. An engaged audience is more likely to participate in Giving Days.

Once you’ve engaged via text, prepare for your Giving Day! Be sure to craft messages that are conversational and engaging, not overly formal and robotic.

For example, here is a text you should NOT send: 

Help students fulfill their dreams of changing the world by supporting the <Scholarship Name>. Give now to <School Name>. Text 12345 to donate today!

Decrease opt-outs and increase donations with something personal and relevant like this:

Hi <FIRST NAME> this is <Alum Name> '08 from <School Name>. I volunteered to help with this year’s Giving Day because of the impact scholarships had on my life as a student and I want to give others the same opportunity. If we get 10 more donors by 3pm, <Donor Name> has pledged to contribute another $1,000! Will you join me with a gift to the scholarship fund today? No gift is too small!

5. Use Texting for Highly Personalized Stewardship

As effective as texting can be for fundraising and event promotion, it’s important not to overlook how powerful texting can be for timely and personalized stewardship.

Hi <FIRST NAME>, <Alum Name> from <School Name> here! As a supporter of the Physical Therapy Study Abroad Scholarship we couldn't wait to share this with you! Becca Smith '22 just returned from the D.R. with her classmates. She says without significant scholarship support she would not have been able to participate in this life and career-changing experience. Read more about her trip and your impact here <URL>.

Hi <FIRST NAME>, <Staff Name>, from Dean Brown's office here at <School Name>! I'll be meeting with alumni in <City> next Thursday and Friday and I was hoping to take you to lunch to say thank you for your ongoing support. Are you free either day?

6. Raise Efficiencies with Pledge Fulfillment

Time and time again, you receive a pledge for a donation, only to see that pledge unfulfilled. If your institution is having a phonathon and a potential pledge asks you to send something via mail or email, there’s potential for them to forget that conversation. Sending an immediate text to someone who makes a pledge has a positive effect on fulfillment.

Ruffalo Noel Levitz followed four schools that used texting for pledge fulfillment for just two weeks, and found institutions were able to increase their pledge fulfillment by nearly 3%, on average!

Hi <FIRST NAME>, thank you for taking the time to speak with <Student Caller’s Name> today – and for considering supporting <Name of Initiative>. You may make a gift or read more about how your gift would help students here: <URL>

Hi <FIRST NAME>, thank you for taking the time to speak with <Student Caller’s Name> today, and for your pledge of support for <Name of Initiative>. Please follow this link to complete your pledge: <URL>

Texting alumni can be just as exciting and rewarding as welcoming new students to your school. Just make sure you're sending messages that interest everyone on your list.

donor engagement
  • Make opting in (and out) easy and respect their preferences
  • Be sure to clearly explain the benefits of texting
  • Keep each text reflective of the recipient’s interests

A texting platform makes it easier to organize, schedule, and send texts to large groups of alumni and donors. Plus, the recipients perceive these texts as any other message in their inbox. Be sure the texting platform, as well as your CRM, are integrated so opt-ins and opt-outs can be recorded and respected with ease..

Also, as stated above, always support your text messages with other communication channels, like social media, phone calls, and emails. Texting is a powerful tool, but shouldn’t be treated as an “all-in-one” tool. Mix it in with other methods that have proved effective for reaching alumni.

 

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