May 30, 2021

Disaster Fundraising Preparedness Guide

Happy creative businesspeople brainstorming in office, placing sticky notes with ideas on glass

When a disaster strikes, you can be ready to begin fundraising immediately. And while some nonprofits dedicate their mission to disaster relief, many organizations and schools have emergency needs that need to be funded. Things like property damage, unexpected dangers, weather disasters, and more can affect any community at any time.  

Text-to-donate giving via your fundraising yields up to 15 times more than set $10 via cellphone carriers. Looking to get you text-to-donate campaign setup? Connect with GiveSmart experts today. 

This guide will prepare you to effectively use and promote your disaster fundraising in the event of a crisis. 

Step 1: Setup a Keyword for Your Organization

Text-to-donate keywords take just a few minutes to set up and are live on all cell phone carriers. 

Best practice: Consider using the same keyword for all text-to-donate campaigns. Using multiple keywords decreases brand awareness and results in decreased donations. 

Step 2: Setup a Branded Donation Page for Disasters

Branded donation pages  increase average gift size by 38% and take just a few minutes to set up. Responsive donation pages (which auto-resize for smartphones, tablets, and PCs) significantly decrease donation form abandon rates. 

Best practice: Be as specific as possible with the branding on your donation page. This will reinforce to the donor that their donation is going directly to the intended purpose. 

Step 3: Plan to Promote Your Call to Action 

Multiple studies have shown that people need to hear or see a message seven times before they take any action. A devastating disaster will blanket the news cycle – however local. But where are the helpers?  

Make sure your community knows you are on the ground, providing relief and need monetary support. Promote your call to action on multiple channels, including: 

  • Television 
  • Radio 
  • Social Media 
  • Email 
  • Text 
  • Events 

Step 4: Coordinate Your Call to Action

Develop strategic relationships with television, radio, and other media outlets, and be sure they are ready to make an effective call to action verbally and visually

A message as concise as “Text KEYWORD to 76278 to donate with your credit/debit card.” will work! 

Best practice: Make donating as convenient as possible. For online channels, it is best to promote your donation keyword and donation link. 

Step 5: Get Disaster Fundraising in Front of All Your Donors

Your donors are the most likely people to support disaster relief campaigns. Your audience sees 15% of direct mail, 30% of email, and 99% of text messages. This reinforces that sharing regular messaging over multiple channels is a strategy your organization should use.  

Best Practice: Upload your list of existing donor phone numbers for mobile number verification. Text message blasts take only minutes to schedule/send. 

And never forget to steward your donors. Their text-to-donate gift is just the start of their relationship with you. Consider sending a thank you video link in a text message to all donors who give to your disaster relief efforts. 

Text-to-Give vs. Text-to-Donate

In January 2010, the Red Cross raised $22 million with text-to-give donations. Text-to-give donations totaled 20% of the funds raised by the Red Cross for Haitian relief. In January 2010, 21% of donors had smartphones. 

Text-to-give weaknesses 

  • Donations are limited to $10 
  • Funds are received by organizations months later 
  • Keywords are delayed in going live 
  • Organizations receive no donor contact information 
  • Fewer than six in 10 gifts are collected (declines due to non-confirmation, blocks & restrictions) 
  • Limited to large, national organizations and getting partnerships with cell phone carriers 

What would happen with the same pool of donors today using text-to-donate with GiveSmart? Of course, many more people have smartphones, too. With average text-to-donate gifts being roughly $107 with a stronger fulfillment rate, they would raise $375+ million. 

Text-to-donate strengths 

  • Donation amounts average $107 
  • Funds are received by organizations every month 
  • Keywords go live instantly 
  • Organizations receive full donor contact information 
  • More than eight in 10 of donations are collected (declines due to non-credit/debit card fulfillment) 
  • Accessible to every GiveSmart partner 


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