5 Reasons Why Texting Complements Email

Email is still one of the top sources of online donations. But did you know that email drives a much lower percentage of nonprofit online revenue than six years ago?

For example, in 2017, 28% of nonprofit online revenue came from email. Since then, email has driven between 15% to 19% of nonprofit online revenue annually.

This decrease is likely due to a combination of email deliverability hurdles, crowded inboxes, and emerging mobile and digital channels. 

One of the most popular emerging channels is text messaging. But rather than being a competitor, nonprofit texting and emailing work incredibly well together. 

So much so, in fact, that M+R’s testing found that adding text messaging to an existing email fundraising program can increase the amount of revenue raised per person by 25%–50%.

5 reasons that nonprofit texting and emailing complement one another

1. Texting gets you in front of donors within minutes, not days

For important fundraising days and moments, texting is the fastest channel to get your message seen by donors. While 75% of emails are opened in the first 24 hours, 90% of text messages are seen in three minutes.

With email, there’s a risk that donors will miss important fundraising deadlines. Donors may not get around to opening emails from your nonprofit until after Giving Tuesday, Dec. 31, or the end of other timely campaigns. Nonprofit texting allows you to send relevant messages that almost instantly get in front of donors. 

Timing matters for fundraising. Understanding what communications have more urgency can help your nonprofit determine when texting is more appropriate compared to emailing. Sending a text message can also prompt recipients to go back into their email and more thoroughly read the last email your organization sent. Or even better, prompt them to go check their inbox and read the email that is right there waiting for them on the same topic as the text! 

2. Nonprofit texting data shows 4x higher open and click-through rates compared to email

Text messaging has a 99% open rate and 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes. By comparison, the average nonprofit email open rate is 22%, which means a lot of donors are not seeing important fundraising and cultivation email messages.

At Tatango, we also see text messaging click-through rates four times higher than email. For donors who aren’t opening or clicking through emails, text messaging offers a high-engagement second chance to get in front of donors – and drive important actions like donating, watching a video, or registering for an event.

With the right tools, such as Virtuous’ new integration with Tatango, you can easily keep track of donors who opt into text messages from their giving forms. That means nonprofits are free to start both emailing and texting those donors who opted in. 

High open rates mean that nonprofit texting can focus on the most important messages your supporters should see. Nonprofits can use texting to stay top of mind for their supporter base, and then use emails to provide deeper context and content for supporters who want to take a deeper dive. 

3. Texting helps nonprofits overcome email deliverability hurdles

Around 2017, nonprofits started focusing more on email deliverability and following Gmail’s advice to only send those who engage with your emails. Over the past five years, nonprofits have started to suppress constituents who have not recently opened an email – specifically, constituents who haven’t opened email in the past 3-6 months.

Depending on the nonprofit, suppressing these disengaged subscribers could remove even half of their email list. And this is where text messaging helps. Text messaging’s incredibly high and immediate open rates can help re-engage those disengaged email subscribers. By getting your mission and its impact in front of those supporters, they may become more likely to re-engage and open your email communications.

4. Email content easily becomes content for nonprofit texting campaigns

Adding another channel can sound daunting. While fundraisers want to try new initiatives and expand the influence of their campaigns, bandwidth is a constant concern. The good news is that if you are already emailing your supporters, you’ve already created content that can be used for texting. With the right MMS tools, you can significantly increase the impact of your campaigns while keeping your workload more manageable.

Once you’ve created an email, you already have your content for a text message. Nonprofits just need to repurpose their email or social content and use it for texting. To do so, you have a few options: 

  • Pull out the main message of your email and condense it for the text
  • Pick out the most important message from your email to share via text 

Typically, nonprofit text messages are 1-2 sentences for text-only messages and 3-6 sentences for multimedia texts. Multimedia texting can contain images, videos, and GIFs. That means they are short, sweet, and not time-consuming for your nonprofit’s team.

In fact, it usually takes less than 10-15 minutes to create a text message, and that includes adding images, videos, or GIFs. Don’t have someone on staff who can create a GIF or trim a video? Choose a text platform like Tatango, whose Design Studio team creates GIFs and trims videos down at no extra cost. If you included any multimedia content in your original email, you can pull from that for your nonprofit texting campaigns. 

5. More videos are seen by donors than email

Speaking of multimedia content, with a text messaging platform like Tatango, multimedia such as videos, images, and GIFs (e.g. countdown clocks) can be added to text messages. These are known as MMS texts.

Email mostly requires donors to click through to a web page to watch the video. Text messaging platforms like Tatango, though, allow a short video to be played within the text message. No click-throughs are needed. And since 99% of text messages are opened, it’s easy for donors to watch nonprofit videos. 

Videos and other multi-media pieces of content are important to connect emotionally with donors and help them visually understand problems they can help to solve and the impact of their past gifts. Your supporters may experience friction when they want to watch a video you share via email, but the click-through process causes issues. Sending those via text can solve that pain point. 

More details about adding text messaging to your nonprofit communications plan can be found in Tatango’s Complete Guide to Nonprofit Text Messaging Campaigns.


A nonprofit texting strategy pairs well with email because the strengths of texting overlap with the weaknesses of email. By pairing texting and sending emails, nonprofits are able to create a holistic experience for their supporters. Nonprofit texting should focus on the most urgent, timely, and interactive messages. Nonprofit emailing strategies can focus on delivering more content and multiple CTAs in one communication. 

Regardless of how you are communicating with your supporters, make sure that you remain responsive and keep the supporter experience at the center of your strategy! 

What you should do now

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