How to easily incorporate SMS text communications into your grantmaking

by | Sep 3, 2021

Grantmaking, at its heart, is about driving improvement in the world. But just how well you communicate with your community is incredibly important in driving successful outcomes. 

From promoting your grant opportunities and encouraging submissions to keeping your community updated on grant decisions, reliable communication with your grants community is critical.

Email is often the de facto communication method for many organisational communications. But, when dealing with grantseekers or others in your grants community (like your review panel), it’s far from the best. 

In fact, SMS, or text messaging, is by far the more effective means of communication. Gartner reports that the average open rate for text messaging is an impressive 98%! That’s compared to just 20% for emails. In addition to that, SMS response rates are 295% higher than phone call response rates.  

So how can you leverage the power of SMS in your grants program lifecycle? The good news here is that it’s simpler than you think to share important news, announcements and reminders with your community of participants using SMS! Let’s dive in to see just why and how you can use SMS in your grant program communications. 

The benefits of SMS in grantmaking

SMS, or “Short Message Service,” is used to send text messages to mobile phones. The messages can typically be up to 160 characters in length, though some services use 5-bit mode, which supports 224 characters. 

Text messaging has become an increasingly popular way of communication for many nonprofits across the globe, making it easy to send reliable notifications about helpful resources, coordinate and recruit any program volunteers, request donations, connect quickly with staff and share grant program news. 

The use of SMS in grantmaking has incredible utility in communicating with grantseekers, reviewers and other interested members and stakeholders in the community. Here are just a few of the benefits: 

  • You can better reach communities with limited or unreliable access to internet/email. One of the most common reasons to use SMS in program communications is to reach more people in communities who might not otherwise have regular access to the internet. SMS communications help your program reach more people, driving greater access to the opportunity you are providing.
  • It’s more immediate than email. A text message happens in real-time to all users. Not just those who can reach a computer to check their email. Mobile devices are carried on person and are more readily accessed than a computer. For urgent and important program communications, SMS messaging can be very effective.
  • You can drive engagement. Text messaging provides a way for you to interact more intimately with your grant community, providing the opportunity to easily reply or complete a requested action (such as editing an application submission or advising a new grant as being available).
  • Better open and response rates. As mentioned above, various sources report SMS open and response rates as high as 98% and 45%, respectively — in contrast to corresponding figures of 20% and 6% for email. Simply put, people are more likely to read text messages than emails lost in a crowded inbox. 
  • It forces you to be succinct. Because text messages are typically shorter than emails, they can be a convenient way of sharing important information in a concise way, helping you to get the most important information out quickly and reliably. 

Ideas on incorporating text messaging into the grantmaking lifecycle 

Now that we’ve talked about the many benefits of using SMS messaging in grantmaking, let’s talk about some examples of ways you can use it for your program communications. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Grant program promotion

Your community can’t apply for your support and funding if they don’t know about your program. Promotion is an important part of any grantmaking lifecycle. Consider using SMS messaging to send quick notes about your program with a link to your application, or let grantseekers know about upcoming open application periods. 

Automated program notifications

There are many notifications sent during the grants lifecycle that could be automated to help you save time and cut down on administrative tasks. In Good Grants, you can use a trigger or action that occurs during the application process to automatically fire off these notifications for you. Here’s just some of the automated notifications you can send via SMS to your community of participants:

  • Invite grantseekers to a funding program 
  • Send account creation confirmation once an applicant registers
  • Notify applicants of successful submission
  • Let review panels know when there are applications ready to review 
  • Notify grantees when they’ve received funding
  • Request progress reports from grantees
  • And so much more. The options are incredibly flexible.

By asking for a phone number in the registration process, these quick notifications can be sent via SMS straight from the Good Grants platform!

Submission nudges

For those grant applicants who have started their application but have not yet submitted, a text message can be the perfect nudge to complete the application before the closing date.  

This can increase your program’s application submission rate and make it easy for applicants to pick up where they left off, especially if you include a link directly to their in-progress application. 

Review panel reminders

When you need to remind your panel that applications are reading for review, you can send an SMS communication as a quick reminder.

Like a submission nudge, you can include a link for the reviewer, who can immediately log in and see which applications are ready for review. 

Funding announcements

You can also create SMS communications to let your grantees or shortlisted candidates know the results of your decision-making process––that notification of funding can’t come fast enough! 

Your community will love the speedy results.

How to actually add SMS texting into your toolbox

Now it’s time to get technical. It’s easy to see the benefits and use cases of text messaging in grantmaking, but how can you actually implement it? Here are some easy options.

SMS options in Good Grants

SMS: A built-in Good Grants feature. With Good Grants, you have two choices when communicating with your participants: email or SMS. To use SMS as your primary method of communication, simply require users to register to your program using their mobile number instead of their email. That’s easy to do from your registration page settings. From then on, you’ll be able to communicate by text message––with just a few clicks! 

Please note:

You cannot use both email and SMS to communicate with participants in Good Grants.
If both email and mobile are provided during user registration, email will always hold precedence over SMS text messaging. To ensure SMS texts are sent to program participants instead of email, ensure email is disabled during user registration.

For programs which already have participants registered with email, but would like to use SMS to communicate instead, you would need to request your existing users to update their profile with their mobile number and remove their email address (you can also do this on their behalf). If you would prefer not to take that path – you can use Zapier or our API to get the job done!

A Zapier integration. If you want to do more with your SMS communications, you can. Good Grants offers a native Zapier integration, which enables you to connect to text message services to help you customise your grant communications. Check out this list from Zapier of recommended SMS apps for small businesses! Or, use our ready-to-go template to connect Good Grants to TextMagic, where you can provide instant feedback to applicants when they submit applications to Good Grants.

Good Grants and TextMagic

API and webhooks. Grant or funding programs can also use our comprehensive API and webhooks to leverage the power of Good Grants to work with other applications. The API allows you to create, update, get and delete a wide variety of objects. For example, you could set up a trigger like “application submitted” to send an SMS detailing what will happen next in your decision-making process. You can also set up a trigger to tag an application and then send an SMS. For example, applications that need more information could be tagged and then sent an SMS message requesting them to add more detail with a link to their existing submission. 

Using SMS to reach your grant community where they are

There’s more than one way to share the good news of your grant or funding opportunity. Consider adding SMS messaging to reach more people more reliably, increasing accessibility to your program and driving cost savings through fewer administrative tasks. 

Text messaging is an effective way to not only reach your community but also to engage with them. And it’s easier than you think to implement it!

 

To learn how you can use Good Grants to manage your program and communicate with grantseekers via SMS communications, try a 7-day free trial today. (No credit card required).  

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