SMS is employed by businesses across the world to overcome all kinds of challenges. Not only can the technology be used for internal communication purposes, it’s a hugely valuable marketing tool that allows firms to better reach their target audiences. While charities may have different motives to profit-generating private companies, they face many of the same obstacles. It is for this reason that so many are using texts to boost effectiveness.
The challenges for charities
According to data from the Charities Aid Foundation, £1.1 billion was given to charitable causes in 2012/2013, marking a staggering growth of £800 million on the previous year (adjusted for inflation). With the average donation standing at £29 (up from £27 in 2011/12), it might seem that enough is being done – but charities still need all the help they can get.
Raising awareness is a constant struggle for charity bosses and their teams of volunteers, but the mammoth task doesn’t end there; encouraging people to donate is the next step, and this part can be even more difficult. It makes perfect sense, then, to make use of technology – but how can SMS help?
Reaching the audience with text messages
Companies use SMS to reach consumers for one simple reason: it works. Research from Frost & Sullivan shows that 98 per cent of all text messages are read by their recipients, compared to just 22 per cent of emails and 12 per cent of Facebook posts. What’s more, 96 per cent of smartphone owners still use SMS regularly, with the average Brit sending 50 messages every week. If these stats show anything, it’s that text messages are the best way to get through to the public.
By sending out messages to large groups, charities are able to quickly and effectively spread the word about what it is they’re trying to achieve. More than this, they’re in a position to communicate with the same people more than once, making it easier to build valuable relationships over time. It’s this kind of trust that causes people to donate regularly.
Ultimate convenience of charity messages
Asking people to donate is one thing, expecting them to jump through hoops before they can do so is far from sensible. Thankfully, technology has made it much easier for people to be generous with their money. Alongside sites like JustGiving.com, SMS has had a significant part to play in this – it’s about as convenient as fundraising can get.
Donation pleas are pretty commonplace these days; they can be found on train posters, high-street billboards and even TV advertisements. It’s becoming increasingly normal for these messages to contain short codes – five-digit numbers designed to make it easy for people to get in touch. Firstly, these codes are usually memorable, or at least quick to write down. Messages sent to short codes can be billed at a higher rate than those sent to conventional numbers, meaning charities can put their own value on each text.
As the donation money from each message is deducted from the sender’s phone bill, they’re not required to spend the money there and then; it’s surprising just how much of a stumbling block this can be with physical donations. For many people, having the funds taken automatically at the end of the month – usually around payday – is a more manageable way of doing things.
An easy way to help using business SMS
When the SMS concept was first developed in the mid-1980s, its sole aim was to create a convenient new method of communication. It achieved just that, which is why it’s still so popular today. A study from 2011 found that one in three people would rather text than talk, and that’s not to say the remaining respondents don’t still rely on SMS to get in touch with their contacts alongside traditional calls.
For charities that specialise in supporting people directly, two-way texting provides a great way to stay in touch. Young people in particular are usually happy to correspond with texts, and are much less likely to ask for help if they’re required to be somewhere in person or even to pick the phone up – whether this is because of anxiety or even just time restrictions.
It’s no secret that texting has changed the way profit-led organisations operate; charities must realise that it can benefit them too. If employed in the right fashion, it can help to not only boost donations and general awareness, but to enhance beneficiaries’ lives directly.