Case Study: Using SMS to Get Donations at Year-End

August 16, 2017 - by Lesley Hostetter and Rachel Kottler

Mobile giving (SMS) continues to be on the rise worldwide – but few U.S. organizations have been able to leverage it to its full potential. The Human Rights Campaign was one of the first c4 organizations to start a mobile program in 2007, and by December 2016 they had over 300,000 mobile subscribers. HRC’s mobile audience has some overlap with its email file, but also includes a mobile-only file.

In 2015 and early 2016, HRC began experimenting more with renewal and acquisition messaging via SMS and MMS messages to renew and acquire donors using the Upland Mobile Messaging (also known as Mobile Commons) platform. One SMS was typically sent through Mobile Commons with each major fundraising campaign and with coordinated online/offline renewal campaigns. With each campaign we saw more and more success. By year-end, we knew we wanted to go big with SMS.


Since HRC members and supporters tend to be premium-responsive, we decided to offer three unique 1-day premium deals over text: a black believe bracelet, an equality logo t-shirt, and two HRC stickers. Knowing that cross-channel promotions boost results, the text offers were coordinated with email offers on 12/22, 12/29, and 12/31. Each text showed the image of the premium and emphasized that the offer was for 1-day only.

Text messages went out to HRC’s mobile audience of past donors and supporters, excluding monthly donors and high dollar donors. Language was altered slightly for supporters, asking them to “become a member” instead of “make a year-end donation”.


HRC raised over $40,000 from the three texts and even acquired 39 new monthly donors. They beat revenue projections by an incredible 430%! In 2015 year-end for comparison, HRC only raised about $8,000 from SMS. 

What’s more – the bracelet offer made HRC history as the best performing SMS ever, raising over $21,000 – and garnering a 0.21% response rate! This was more than double the response rate of the email with the same bracelet offer!

This campaign exemplifies how you can successfully integrate your mobile list into year-end fundraising efforts.

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