Text Message Donations (Text-to-Give)

Text-to-Give gives your donors a convenient, lightning fast way to give. It will take your donors about 2 minutes to set it up and they can attach any payment method used by Giving, including bank accounts for ACH donations. There's no app to download, no big setup forms, and no hoops to jump through.

A Text-to-Give account is established by having three verified and active elements tied together:

Video Overview

In this video, Justin will show you how easy it is to give using a text message. Feel free to download to show during your services, or embed this on your website for your donors to learn how to use the feature.

 

Donor Setup Process

"Text any amount to 84321 to give" - This is all the instruction your donors will need.

If a donor texts $5 and they've never set up Text-to-Give, they'll be asked to set up a payment method. From that point forward, giving will be as simple as sending a text.

You can see this setup process in the video above. It's easy for donors to set up text to give and although we're showing all the steps in the list below... give it a try yourself. You'll see that it feels a lot more quicker than it reads.

  1. Send an amount (example: $5 or $1.00) to the short code 84321. This is a shared shortcode used by other churches in your area. 
  2. If the number isn't set up for text-to-give, a setup link will be sent back. Tap the setup link be guided to the next step.
  3. Select your church. A list of churches in the area will be suggested. If your phone number is recognized by Planning Center Giving, the appropriate church will be listed as a "Suggested" organization. 
  4. Enter your email address and, if prompted, your name.
  5. Enter the payment method you'd like to use for text-to-give. If you're already a donor and you've added a payment method before (say, a bank account for ACH or a credit card) then you can optionally log in to access your saved payment methods. 
  6. Complete your initial setup donation. The initial donation, in most cases, will go to the default fund (usually the "General" fund). However, donations can be directed to more specific funds using keywords (more on that below). 

Cost

There is no extra cost for using Text-to-Give and there is no extra cost when someone initiates a donation via sms. There is still a processing fee for the donation which is based on the payment method the donor selected for Text-to-Give. For example, if someone uses their Visa card for Text-to-Give, the processing fee for that donation would be the same as if they donated using the standard donation form. Read more about Stripe's fees.

Enabling or Disabling Text-to-Give

Text-to-Give can be an enabled or disabled in the general settings panel within Planning Center Giving:

NOTE: Text-to-Give requires at least one campus in PCO Accounts. Here's where to find that:

The Text-to-Give short code: 84321

All churches using Text-to-Give share the 84321 short code. During set up, the system will use the donor's geographical location and phone number to suggest churches nearby (within 20 miles) who use PCO Giving and have Text-to-Give enabled. If they ever move to a new church that happens to use PCO Giving, it's easy to disconnect their phone from their current donor profile by logging into the donor interface online or by sending the common "STOP" keyword.

Tracking SMS donations

Back on the administrative side of Giving, donations initiated by text message will get an "SMS" stamp so you can filter and report on these types of donations:

Really, Text-to-Give donations are just another way to give using a credit, debit, or ACH bank account. For regular donors, it's just a faster way to do it!

Your dashboard will also tell you how many people gave via text message during that period:

And while looking at a donor's profile, if they have text-to-give enabled, you'll see that same little blue badge:

Directing donations to different funds

By default, incoming text message donations will go to your default fund. However, a donor can also indicate a more specific, restricted fund by appending the fund name (as shown in the example below).

If some of your fund names are a bit lengthy for text messages, consider adding a shorter keyword for your Text-to-Give donors. For example, a fund called "New Building" might benefit from using the shorter keyword "building." After enabling this feature, you'll find a new option when editing your funds:

After the initial setup donation (which always goes to the default fund unless designated to another fund using fund names/keywords), it's possible to give to multiple funds in a singe text message. Example: "$5 missions $6 newbuilding" or "$5 to missions and $6 to newbuilding"

Special keywords used by the system

Keywords triggers are communicated to donors in the course of text message giving. Here's an example:

"STOP" - This will immediately deactivate Text-to-Give for the sender. If they'd like, they can enroll again later.

"REFUND" - Donors can issue this command within 30 minutes of donating to initiate an automatic refund. This isn't a cancellation, it's an actual refund (it's treated as an actual refund).

"MISTAKE" - Because ACH donations take so long (and can't be refunded until they "settle" in the bank system) the normal "refund" keyword doesn't work when donors use a bank account as their text-to-give payment method. Instead, they can use the MISTAKE keyword (as shown above). This keyword will cancel the donation before it enters the banking system. When a donation is cancelled this way, it's like it never happened.

"HELP" - This will prompt a response message back to the sender. If the sender is a Text-to-Give donor (meaning that their number is active in the system) then they'll get a link to a help page specific to your organization. This help page will show the donor helpful information about Text-to-Give and show the list of active funds. Here's an example:

Deactivating Text-to-Give or changing a payment method

Donors can deactivate by using the "STOP" keyword (described above) or they can use their email address and disconnect Text-to-Give in their donor profile. Here they can deactivate Text-to-Give or change their payment method used by Text-to-Give:

Limitations

There are few limitations with text-to-give donations:

  1. Recurring donations can't be established or managed by Text-to-Give. This can be done in the donor interface, but can't be accomplished over SMS. 
  2. A phone number can only be attached to one church at a time. Text-to-Give is meant to be a way for regular donors to give spontaneously to their regular/home church. It probably shouldn't be used for things like campaigns or fundraisers aimed at one-time givers.
  3. Payment methods can't be added or managed via text messages alone. Obviously you don't want to be sending bank account numbers or card numbers over unencrypted SMS messages.

Mobile carrier troubleshooting

Unfortunately, there are some limitations with Text-to-Give that prevent it from working with a few mobile carriers. Larger carriers (like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon etc.) typically don't have these issues, where other carriers (like PCS Metro, U.S Cellular, C Spire, and Freedom Pop) might. It's not that common, but here's what to look for:

  1. The carrier is preventing SMS messages from "short codes". Giving uses the 84321 short code. If the donor tries to set up Text-to-Give and gets a "Service access denied." message back, there's a good chance their carrier is just outright blocking the message. Sometimes it's just a limitation of the carrier and sometimes the carrier can allow short-code messaging upon request. Either way, it's something only the mobile carrier can fix.
  2. The carrier is preventing SMS messages over 140 characters. If the donor tries to set up Text-to-Give and the message back is chopped short, then the donor's mobile carrier is truncating the message. This is a real deal-breaker for using Text-to-Give because most of the messages (and the URL's in the messages) will always be more than 140 characters. If the mobile carrier chops them into multiple messages or only delivers the first 140 characters to the donor's phone, that's a limitation that can't be worked around.

Both of these cases are not at all common and we've only seen a handful of donors hit these issues across hundreds of churches using Planning Center Giving. Since both issues stem from the mobile provider's lack of support for basic SMS functionality, there's nothing we can do on our end. Having said that, keep in mind that Text-to-Give is an extra way to give. The online donor interface still works great on web-capable mobile devices; even if the mobile carrier is blocking text message functionality as described above.

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