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SMS marketing for not-for-profits: 3 inspiring examples

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Customer stories 5 min read | Jade Gebbie wrote in blog on May 28, 2024

When you think of SMS marketing, do you picture an impersonal sales promo from a big box store, a Friday night offer from a pizza chain, or – even worse – a dry reminder about an upcoming dentist appointment? While those are all perfectly legitimate, there’s so much more to SMS these days. It can be creative, personal, carefully targeted and even inspirational. It’s also a quick, cost-effective way to reach your audience.  

For not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) who want to make emotional connections but can’t necessarily spend up large on media, that’s a winning combination.   

But what’s the most impactful way to use SMS marketing in your not-for-profit or charity? We look at some super-simple, super-successful examples from four NFPs to get you started.  

1. Getting the word out for a worthy cause  

Camp Quality supports Aussie kids aged 0-13 who have been diagnosed with cancer. The non-profit org delivers a range of innovative programmes and services for these kids in a bid to strengthen their wellbeing – and support their families – during treatment. It’s an incredibly worthy cause that the team behind Camp Quality clearly feels passionate about.   

Thanks to an SMS Salesforce integration (powered by Sinch MessageMedia), the NFP has changed the way they communicate with their audience. Instead of sending event invites and reminders via email or social media, they’ve started sending SMS messages to families in their network. The result: Attendance rates at their events have risen significantly.    

The outcome is positive for a few reasons. First, better attendance means more kids benefit from Camp Quality events and services. Second, having more people means more efficient use of resources like vendors, event staff, and venue costs, maximising the value of donations. Thirdly (and finally), Camp Quality staff can send targeted messages through the SMS platform in seconds, saving significant time on outreach. It’s a triple win.  

Camp Quality is so pleased with the results that they’re planning to implement SMS outreach for their volunteer base next.  

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2. Making giving easy for UNICEF 

From war zones to the aftermath of natural disasters and ongoing conflicts, UNICEF works hard to deliver healthcare, food, clean water, and more to children in dire situations all over the world. And, (not many people realise this) the organisation is fully donor-funded, meaning that fundraising is a crucial part of their work.  

UNICEF Aotearoa used to rely on door-to-door donation drives and big events to pull in funds. Now, they supplement those approaches with modern tech – and that’s where SMS marketing for the not-for-profit comes in. Here’s just one example of the way the NFP uses SMS. 

Back in 2022, UNICEF ran a 24-hour Kickathon event with rugby hero Dan Carter. Donors were asked to support him as he aimed to beat his test career record, with donations going towards safe water and sanitation in the Pacific Islands.  

UNICEF used Sinch MessageMedia to make donating ultra-simple by executing their Text2Donate campaign. As Dan kicked (and kicked and kicked) the ball, Kiwis could text a 4-digit number and instantly donate $3 through their mobile provider. You really can’t make it much easier than that.  

How did it go? The Kickathon raised a huge $500,000, with text donors giving an average of $11 each.  

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3. Reaching young people with SMS marketing as a not-for-profit 

Youth Opportunities Association (SA) is an NFP that runs leadership programmes for young Aussies. The goal is to give participants skills, confidence and motivation as they navigate early adulthood. YOA has worked with an amazing 13,000 young people from 80 schools across South Australia so far.  

Communicating with participants is a key part of the Youth Opportunities Association’s programme. Because they work with young people, SMS tends to be the preferred channel – getting under-18s to answer a call or reply to an email can be a challenge. YOA’s trainers had previously used personal cell phones to text reminders or programme details to participants, but this was slow and inefficient, with no way to record messages or replies.  

With support from Sinch MessageMedia, YOA started using an SMS platform to manage this communication. Instead of trainers reaching out to 50-60 students one by one, they can now simply write one single message and reach all their contacts directly from the software. Messages are saved, along with contact records and any replies, so the NFP has a (virtual) paper trail for all communication.  

The new platform ensures students get all the location, time, and programme details they need, making them less likely to miss a session. And, now that it’s quicker for trainers to text, they can deliver encouraging messages, answer questions, and support their students even after they’ve left the programme. It’s about communicating with young people in a way that works for them – and it’s working.  

Use SMS marketing in your not-for-profit to inspire, motivate, and engage

Looking for new ways to reach program participants, donors or volunteers in your NFP? SMS can drive real engagement at the touch of a button (well, several buttons). If your team is over-extended – as in many NFPs – it’s a quick, efficient way to get results without impacting your other work.  

Feeling inspired? Talk to the Sinch MessageMedia team to find out more.   

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