Inbound texting, like the process Sharp described, is one way that stations can leverage text messaging. Another option is outbound texting, where the station initiates a message or series of messages to its users.
On the fundraising side, outbound texting can be used for membership renewal reminders, year-end fundraising requests, and other times when members or donors might need a little extra nudge to make or complete a gift.
As Rocky Mountain Public Media learned, outbound texting can also be a way to engage with members outside of member drives and deliver content that adds value to what they see or hear.
Rocky Mountain Public Media turned to texting in 2020 along with other membership program evolutions as the station adapted to changes catalyzed by the pandemic. The organization had used canvassing in its acquisition efforts, but the early days of the pandemic put door-to-door engagements on hold. The station was looking for new and effective ways to communicate with their audience.
Genevieve Nelson, the Cultural Fundraising Manager at Rocky Mountain Public Media, said the KUVO Jazz team considered doing an outbound fundraising text at the end of the 2020 fiscal year but decided it would be best to build rapport through text communications before using it as an avenue of solicitation.
“Our membership base is very loyal and hadn’t been approached via text yet, so we didn’t want to create confusion” Nelson said. “We wanted to wait for the right time and create a conversation starter.”
That conversation starter turned out to be Jazz Appreciation Month in April 2021. KUVO sent texts to its members throughout the month with facts and informational links about jazz greats who had birthdays in April. A text message on Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday asked members what their favorite Ella song was and Nelson said the station received 125 responses from the 5,500 members who received the texts.
The success of the conversational texts gave the station confidence to ask for an additional gift during KUVO’s spring on-air drive, which immediately followed Jazz Appreciation Month. Revenue received in response to the additional gift ask helped offset the costs of the campaign and allowed the project to break even. The station even received a gift via text from a major donor. “It was a pleasant surprise and reflected that varying segments of our member base will engage with texts,” Nelson said.
KUVO has since rolled out monthly membership renewal and sustainer recapture text messages with good response and success.
THE DROP, a hip hop and R&B station with Rocky Mountain Public Media, serves a younger demographic than KUVO Jazz, which Nelson said made it a natural fit for conversational texting. Listeners regularly text in song requests and other messages to the show’s hosts, which led to greater success in fundraising via text.
“We did one standard pledge drive for THE DROP in the spring of 2020, and from that pledge drive, 80% of the donations came from text,” Nelson said. “18 text gifts were made with an average gift amount of $81.95. It was clear evidence to us that [texting] is how younger donors are engaging with [making a gift].”