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Humane Society finds text-to-give, social are a perfect match

WASHINGTON ? The Humane Society mobile communications manager speaking at the Mobile Giving Forum talked about the important role that social media is playing in the nonprofit?s mobile giving program.

The organization has been active in mobile for the past few years and recently passed reached 57 percent of traffic to its Web site on mobile. While text-to-give presents some challenges for nonprofits ? such as that there is limited opportunity to build an on-going relationship with donors ? the Humane Society has found that pairing it with social media can give programs a nice boost.

?[Hurricane] Sandy allowed us to use text-to-give to say we need money now because of the disaster response,? said Lara Koch, mobile communications manager at The Humane Society of the United States. ?We were willing to deal with the drawbacks like no donor information and not being able to contact those people. 

?Then we realized that social was converting the most for text-to-give,? she said.

 ?So many are coming to our Web site from Facebook from their phone because of the Facebook app. That?s why text-to-give and social are a perfect match.

Breaking news
The Humane Society sees 60 percent or more of the traffic to its Facebook page coming from mobile.

Every fundraising campaign that The Humane Society does has a mobile component. 

On SMS, the nonprofit typically uses forms to drive people to take action. There are fewer gifts but they have a higher average value and enable the organization to collect donor information. 

One reason social works so well for text-to-give is that people are getting their breaking news on social media and via text alerts. At the same time, text-to-give is cemented in people?s minds because of natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake.

?We use text-to-give on social because it works, SMS and forms tends to be the better fit,? Ms. Koch said. ?People are on our list, we can talk to them, we can send them to a form with a video embedded.

?It is a high-touch ask,? she said. 

Cross-channel consistency
Another strategy that works for The Humane Society is ensuring that the imagery and message are similar across every channel. 

For example, the nonprofit?s end-of-year ask in 2013 went out as an Instagram post and via an SMS to its list on the same day. The text linked to a form and had mobile-optimized video embedded.

Simultaneously, the organization launched the broader campaign on Facebook, in email and its Web site.

Ms. Koch likes to test different strategies in text messaging and shared some interesting learnings from some of these.

On New Year?s Eve, the organization did a last-chance-to-give campaign and sent out a text message once an hour to see when the highest conversion rate would be. It was 10:30 pm.

Across multiple campaigns, the organization has also found that questions work very well in text messages, typically converting higher than a statement.

Going forward, the Humane Society is hoping to sustaining or recurring gifts on social by the end of the year and then to extend this to its SMS list next year.

The organization also uses a texting call-to-action on its Facebook page to support various advocacy programs, such as its Meatless Monday?s recipe program, which has been running for several years. 

?Channel coordination is our greatest strength,? Ms. Koch said.

?This past year, we really found a sweet spot in how we are asking people to give to us, and making sure it goes across all of our channels,? she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York