Health and Growth

Mass Texting: Keeping Your Church in the Know

Mass texting is the future of church marketing. If it sounds intimidating, don't worry—read this blog, take notes, and step into the future of church communications.

Mass Texting: Keeping Your Church in the Know
by

Paul Maxwell

Let’s be very, very clear:

Mass texting is the way every church will communicate with its congregation in 10 years.

No more phone chains.

No more mass emails.

No more printed signs on the door.

Text messages are opened at an unparalleled rate.

Mass texting technology is finally mature enough to be a common church communications asset.

Mass texting is simply the most reliable, secure, and effective way to communicate with your church members as a whole, or according to individual segments within your church, like children’s ministry or small groups.

But before we understand why churches should adopt mass text messaging and how best to use it, we must begin by understanding what it is.

So, let’s jump into mass text messaging so that your church can get started with the single best way to communicate with a large group of people.

1. What mass texting is

Mass text messaging is when you send a single text message to a large number of people.

This does not include sending a single text message from one phone to a large list of numbers.

What’s the problem with that?

It will create a text message “group” so that every single person who responds will send a text to every single other person.

Ninety-nine percent  of people don’t want to be stuck in a text group like that.

Instead, mass texting uses a software service to collect contact numbers gained consensually from church members, and using that software to send individual text messages to each of those people without having to manually send a new text to each person.

In other words, mass texting is the use of text message software to send a single text message with a single click to a list of contacts without creating a text message “group.”

Most mass texting services will assign your church an individualized phone number from which to perform all your texting message communications.

Your members can safely save this number as “[CHURCH NAME] Communications.”

2. How to get people to give you their numbers

People are generally more protective of their phone numbers than their emails, because it is harder to block phone numbers and because text messaging is a more intimate form of communication.

So, in order to collect phone numbers from your church members, simply give them a reason to enter their number.

This will split your church into two groups of people:

Those who want to give their church their mobile phone number, and those who are suspicious of giving their church their mobile phone number.

For those who want to give you their phone number, simply give your members multiple avenues and opportunities to opt-in to your church’s text message communications service.

This could take the form of:

  • An online signup form
  • An information-collection kiosk (as simple as an iPad)
  • A “Text your name to [NUMBER] to receive text message communication from our church”
  • During church announcements

Each of these methods of data collection are legitimate avenues of collecting mobile phone data with the consent of users.

For the second kind of users—the skeptics—offer a free book or gift card as an incentive to give you their phone number.

This may cost your church some money  up front, but the lifetime value of earning the text message marketing trust of skeptical members will pay off in dividends when they become trusting, giving members.

3. What you should include in every mass text message

Every mass text message should include three things:

  1. The name of your church
  2. A basic piece of information
  3. A call to action

Let’s take at these in detail.

1. The name of your church

You should include the name of your church in a mass text message, because while it may be clear to you that “Come to our BBQ this Sunday!” refers to your church BBQ, all the members who haven’t saved your phone number (and new subscribers) won’t know who the text message is from.

Including your church name at the very beginning of every text message is critical for ensuring clarity and mitigating against the frustration of wondering “Who is this from?”

2. A basic piece of information

You should include a basic piece of information, because if you simply say, “Click this link for more info!” you have reduced the effectiveness of text message communications to the effectiveness of email (more below), which has a lower open rate than text messages. This is because by only including a “Click for info” link in your text message, rather than including the crucial information in the body of the text itself, you have required your readers to open two things to get information, rather than one, which diminishes the effectiveness of the medium.

3. A call to action

You should include a call to action, because if the information you sent is crucial enough to send over text, then the response of your congregants will help you as a church to better understand how your church has received and processed this information.

A call to action can be as simple as “Click this link” or “Will you attend the BBQ this Sunday? — Reply Y/N” to this text.

So, in full, your mass text message which includes all three necessary components should look like this:

  • “[CHURCH NAME] — BBQ after church this Sunday at 1pm! $5 per person, covers all food and games. Kids free. Reply Y/N + number in party to RSVP!”

This text message is jam-packed with info (time, price, etc), a clear source of the text ([CHURCH NAME]), and a clear call to action (Reply Y/N + number in party).

With a 97% open rate on text messages, your RSVP rate should be at least 3 times what you could have hoped through email.

4. Why mass texting is better than email

Mass texting is better than email for the simple fact that its open rate is three times higher than email.

People often dismiss email and let generic communication emails from churches and businesses get lost in the backlog of “general information.”

This is why Google created an entire tab called “Promotions” in Gmail—because corporate and commercial communications became ignorable.

Text messages are harder to acquire, but easier and more effective to use.

Churches have a natural excuse to get text messages from people—people want to get involved and attend every Sunday.

Make mass text message communications a natural part of that involvement.

5. How to use mass texting

Use mass texting sparingly, but purposefully.

As a general rule, mass texting best practice states this:

  • Send one text before service (Saturday evening or Sunday morning) to remind people to attend
  • Send one text after service (Sunday evening or Monday morning) to remind people where they can access the sermon and/or give to the church
  • Send one text about a special event happening at church which will have the widest interest among members.

Anything more than this, and you are testing the limits of trust among those who opted into your church’s text message communications platform.

6. How to handle people who don’t want to receive mass texting

It’s normal for people to feel a bit squeamish about receiving a “mass text.”

Don’t get defensive.

Don’t feel hurt.

Don’t be suspicious of that person.

Personal information—especially text message alerts that can easily interrupt family time—should be guarded and used appropriately.

It’s natural for some people to prefer to have this information over email.

If someone asks to be taken off of a mass texting list, politely oblige their request, and inform them that they can get the same information through your email communications service. Provide them for the link to subscribe to that service, and tell them that they can resubscribe at any time by texting [TRIGGER WORD] to your number.

7. How to incorporate mass text messaging into your broader church communications strategy

Don’t make mass texting the cornerstone of your church communications strategy.

Text messaging is a simple tool that is meant to communicate the 3 elements mentioned above—source, key information, and a call to action.

But there are more sophisticated forms of data that your church members are going to want to access and engage in deeper ways.

For example, you can’t manage a church calendar over text message.

You can’t manage all your registrations through text message.

And you can’t manage small groups and volunteers through text message.

There are better solutions for these multi-layered communications needs—for example, a church app, which can send push notifications like text messages with more sophisticated “swipe” capabilities that bring your members into a their more desired complex interface.

Your church should have an email list for weekly big-picture and event-based communications.

Your church should have a church app for its sermon database, calendar management, and announcement hub.

Your church should make brief, whole-congregation-relevant comments from the stage.

But mass texting is an organic, intimate way to stay in touch with your congregation week by week that includes the ability for reader response that actively involves them in the life of your church.

Over to you

All these communication methods should utilize audience segments so that you can communicate with sub-populations within your church about the particularities of their relevant church involvement—such as volunteers, small groups, bible studies, Sunday School, and giving.

But mass texting will increase over the next 10 years become a pillar of your church communications strategy that you won’t be able to ignore.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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Mass Texting: Keeping Your Church in the Know