Not to be confused with Text-to-Give campaigns (Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross), group texting campaigns are when individuals opt-in to be alerted of news or calls to action via text message. They can opt-in by sending a Keyword (NONPROFITORGS) to a Short Code (41411), or through a subscribe page/widget on a nonprofit’s website. Text messages can also be used to drive traffic to an organization’s mobile website and to ask people to Text-to Give.

When researching this post, I was fairly stunned by how few nonprofits have launched text messaging campaigns. A year ago launching a text alert campaign was expensive, but not anymore thanks to tools like TextMarks and Ez Texting. Small nonprofits can now just as easily be early adopters of this new technology as the large national and international nonprofits. That said, below are 10 text campaigns that I was able to find through Google and Twitter searches:

1. Service Employees International Union :: Subscribe

The SEIU sends out urgent alerts and news from the field. They are using a provider that allows subscribers to enter their zip code so text alerts can be tailored to ask subscribers to contact Congress. I have only been subscribed a few days and yet to receive a text alert, but I am hoping that the text message will include a link to a mobile web page where I can easily enter my contact information to send an email to my members of Congress… from my iPhone.

The SEIU also uses more than just a subscribe web page to build their mobile list. They also Tweet and post on Facebook: Text SEIU to 787753 for mobile updates! They also feature their  text alert campaign on their homepage.

2. :: Subscribe

DO Something is utilizing text alerts to inform individuals about volunteer opportunities in their area. The subscribe function is featured on their homepage and they do not require individuals to enter their name or email address to subscribe to receive text alerts. Definitely a best practice!

3. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals :: Subscribe

The ASPCA is running three different text alert campaigns: 1) Advocacy Alerts 2) Cate Care Tips 3) Dog Care Tips. Not only that, after you subscribe from their website you are sent to a page that prompts subscribers to then follow the ASPCA on Twitter, fan them on Facebook, make a donation, etc.

4. World Wildlife Fund :: Subscribe

The WWF has incorporated their text alert campaign subscribe pitch into their e-mail newsletter subscribe page. Personally, I think it would be better if they created a separate subscribe page for mobile alerts and did not require individuals to sign up for their e-mail newsletter to receive text alerts. They do have a text alert subscribe box on their Facebook Page, and even though there is an e-mail field in the box, you can subscribe to receive their text alerts and leave the e-mail field blank.

5. Special Olympics of Northern California :: Subscribe

SONC uses text alerts to inform supporters about upcoming events and breaking news. They are the only nonprofit that I know of that has made the connection between text alert campaigns > mobile websites > and text-to-give. Check out their “Donate Now” page on their mobile website. Now that’s a page to be promoted in text alerts in conjunction with a timely, urgent call to action.

6. text4baby :: Subscribe

This text campaign provides free weekly updates for pregnant women. It has its own website and heavily focuses on “Text BABY to 511411” or “Envia BEBE al 511411 para Español”. The web page with subscribe functionality is secondary. That’s a great best practice. Nonprofits should be consistently and regularly promoting their KEYWORD and SHORT CODE combination on the web, social networking sites, and print materials!

7. NARALPro-Choice America :: Subscribe

“Get Pro-Choice Text Alerts on Your Cell Phone” is the pitch and as far as I know NARAL is the only abortion rights group out there using text alerts, but again I think it is a mistake to make name and e-mail address mandatory to receive text alerts. I would also strongly urge NARAL and other nonprofits to add their KEYWORD and SHORT CODE pitch to their Twitter backgrounds!

8. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children :: Subscribe

In partnership with Amber Alerts, the Department of Justice and The Wireless Foundation, the NCMEC has launched Inviduals sign up to receive Amber Alerts in the area on their mobile phones. While it could be problematic for people if they are driving, receiving Amber Alerts while you are out and about in stores, at the park, at events, etc. could really make a difference in finding lost and stolen children within the critical first 3 hours.

9. Humane Society of the United States :: Subscribe

Animal lovers are some of the most dedicated activists and donors out there and the Humane Society tapped into that by becoming a very early adopter of social media. The same is true now of text alert campaigning. In fact, they were one of the first to use text alerts. I really like their text alert explanation that pops up when you click “text alerts” on their subscribe page, but again potential subscribers are required to enter their email address. I’d love to see them and other nonprofits creating “Mobile” pitch pages on their websites that include text alert subscribe information (including KEYWORD and SHORT CODE), text-to-give pitches, links their mobile websites, as well as summaries and download links to their smartphones Apps.

10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention :: Subscribe

The CDC is using text alerts and a mobile website to keep people updated about H1N1. They make it clear that all you need to do is text HEALTH to 87000 to subscribe. Text alerts are the teasers, and then subscribers click a link inside the text message that goes to a mobile web page where they can get more information… on the go, from anywhere. That’s how you do it. 🙂

Related Links:
1. 10 Nonprofit Mobile Websites
2. Mobile Marketing Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations
3. Webinar: How Nonprofit Organizations Can Successfully Utilize Group Texting, Mobile Websites and Smartphone App