Texting Up Despite ‘Giving Preference Gap’

Donors who give to charity via text are becoming more comfortable and the avenue is becoming their preferred method of giving, if the results of a recent survey are any indication.

For the first time since the Text Donation Study began in 2012, text donors chose text giving as their most preferred method of making a donation, according to the 2014 edition, released by The mGive Foundation in Denver, Colo. Text giving received the highest score for the first time, with an average 3.46 (out of 4), up from 2.9 and 3.0 in previous years. Almost 90 percent of respondents rated text giving a 3 or 4, followed by online donations (3.24) and special events (2.78).

Respondents were offered a choice of options ranging from direct mail, telemarketing and online and asked to rank them from one to four. Face-to-face fundraising (2.15), email (2.14), direct mail (2.02), door-to-door solicitations (1.16), and telemarketing (1.14) all declined in popularity since the inaugural study in 2012. In previous years, text giving received average scores of 3.0 and 2.9.

Despite the fact that 61 percent of respondents said they prefer text giving as an excellent way to give, less than 30 percent reported using their mobile phones as a typical donation vehicle. That’s what the report’s author, mGive Executive Director Jenifer Snyder, termed the “Giving Preference Gap.” The gap, which was more pronounced for those who strongly prefer giving by text, illustrates the gap between giving preference and practice, and an opportunity for nonprofits to use text more.

Giving via text does not detract from other methods of donating, according to the survey. The past two years, 15 percent of respondents said giving a small gift via text made them less include to give a larger donation via other methods, but that dropped to 11 percent last year.

Text donors continue to support giving larger donations by text, with 70 percent saying they would like to give $25 via mobile, up from 65 percent last year. One in five were unsure. Current limits are $5 and $10.

About 58 percent said $25 would be the maximum gift level they would consider making via text. One in four said $50 would be their maximum level while one in eight said they’d give as much as $100.

Mobile donors were more likely to give to charity overall at higher amounts last year: 56 percent reported they gave $350 or more annually in 2013, compared with 42 percent in 2012. Text donors who said they gave more than $1,000 annually jumped the most, by 3 percent.

Television is by far the source where text donors hear about campaigns, at 60 percent, far ahead of social networking like Facebook or Twitter, 35 percent, and radio, 23 percent. Asked to specify where on television they heard about text campaigns, respondents said advertisements (40 percent) and television show other than a telethon (32 percent).

Cause marketing was the option that was most likely for respondents to make a donation by text, at 65 percent, followed by a third who said an incentive to receive a thank you coupon or other giveaway, and one in four who said donating would enter them into a sweepstakes. Only 15 percent said a well-known celebrity asks you to donate.

Specifically among Millennials, 58 percent said a company or brand asks you to donate and 44 percent said a thank you coupon or other giveaway, and 36 percent said a sweepstakes.

What type of information do donors want via text? Other than donation information, a clear majority increasingly preferred news and updates, up from 37 percent to 58 percent in last year’s survey. Volunteer information also rose for the third straight up, form 24 percent to 33 percent to 41 percent last year.

Millennials (10 percent) and Gen Xers (9 percent) were most likely to want to hear information about cause marketing while Gen Thumb (42 percent) was most likely to want to receive information about advocacy.

The durability of mobile numbers is a big plus to communicating via text. More than half of those surveyed said they have had their mobile number more than eight years, and 82 percent had the same number for at least five years.

Wednesday and Tuesday were the most popular days for nonprofits to send text messages to supporters last year. Tuesday was by far the most popular day for donors to make text donations, three times more than the second most popular day, Wednesday.

The survey was based on 5,555 responses to email and text messages that were sent to 205,281 text donors April 4-9.