UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand takes it up a notch with SMS

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4 min read | February 8, 2023

We love seeing SMS used for good. For years, our not-for-profit customers have raised donations, mobilised volunteers and spread the word about important causes. All via SMS.

Just like our friends from Children’s charity organisation, UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand. See how they’ve taken their SMS skills to a whole new level.

The challenge

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places to save children’s lives. Before, during and after humanitarian emergencies,  they’re on the ground, providing health care and immunisation, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. Across more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF brings lifesaving help and hope to children and families.

But many don’t know that UNICEF is 100% donor funded, relying on charitable donations to fund their vital work to protect children.

However, when a state of emergency was declared in New Zealand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the country went into lock-down, UNICEF Aotearoa lost the valuable face-to-face time needed to help raise funds. Pounding the pavement for donations was out. Hosting major events, too.

So, for the past two years, UNICEF has been required to do-good from a distance.

The solution

Mastering digital communications tools became more important than ever for UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Step one: find the right channels.

A quick survey emailed to donors found the top two ways that donors preferred to be contacted through – email and SMS. OK, so it was time to level up with text message. MessageMedia, incoming.

Since using our services, SMS has been able to make an incredible impact through some important campaigns. 

The Kickathon fundraiser.

Cue world-renowned rugby hero Dan Carter. Dan strapped on his rugby boots for a mammoth 24-hour Kickathon at Eden Park. Streaming live across a pop-up channel and websites, donors supported Dan as he aimed to beat the record 1598 points, he racked up during his test career. His efforts raised vital funding for safe water and sanitation across the Pacific in places like Kiribati, The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Basically, Kiwis could text to an easy four-digit number and automatically donate $3 to UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand through their mobile phone provider. Easy as that.

The Text2Donate function helped to drive engagement and generate leads, while alsoproviding a safe and easy alternative for those who weren’t able to donate online. We found that using Text2Donate, many people donated more than once, and those that did donated on average $11.

Lisa Ku, Content Engagement Specialist, UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand

Integrating SMS into the fund raising strategy helped to raise a massive $500,000 across the Kickathon.

Afghanistan Earthquake Appeal

When a devastating 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan in June 2022, UNICEF jumped into action.

They needed to quickly reach donors while the news was still at-large. Averaging a 90% open rate in just 90 seconds, SMS seemed to give the organisation the immediacy it needed. So it proved, with more than 60 donations received in the opening phase of the campaign. That’s the power of SMS.

More not-for-profits are turning to messaging to improve efficiency and increase fundraising, just like we’ve seen at UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s an incredibly cost-effective way to call-out to your community, boost donations and even roster on volunteers.

Anushka Wijendra, Chief Operating Officer of MessageMedia.

The future

So, what’s next? After hitting the ground running, UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand is exploring even more MessageMedia tools to support its journey. Think integrated workflows, and multimedia solutions like MMS and two-way messaging.

Find your digital potential and make a difference with the support of MessageMedia.

For not-for-profits ready to get texting, learn more at SMS for not-for-profits.

Ready to roll?

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