Text messages: Helping volunteer managers be successful
The average American sends about 70 text messages per day. This article explores how text messaging can expand the reach of the volunteer manager making it easier to better support and administer volunteer programs.
Text messaging is popular because it is consistent and reliable in places where the Internet sometimes is not; it is perceived as less intrusive than voice calls. This article explores how text messaging can expand the reach of the volunteer manager making it easier to better support and administer volunteer programs. According to the website Experian, smartphone owners in the U.S. aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average — 67 texts on a daily basis — and receive another 1,831. A 2011 report from Pew Internet indicated that nearly three-quarters of Americans send and receive text messages on a regular basis.
It makes sense that text messaging is a useful tool for volunteer managers as a method of pushing information out to existing volunteers according to Michigan State University Extension. For instance, a text message reminder about an upcoming event or volunteer shift would be very helpful. Additionally, texting can be a preferred mode of communication for some individuals (particularly younger volunteers) when trying to check in with someone to see how their service is going or scheduling a time to meet. Group text messages can be particularly helpful in communicating with volunteer committees or individuals signed up for the same event. Lifehacker recommends that of the five best apps for sending group text messages Google Voice is a prefered option as it allows the volunteer manager to streamline several phone numbers into one newly assigned number. Group text messaging can be especially helpful when more than one volunteer committee or group is meeting on the same night and the volunteer manager can’t be present in both locations. It can be reassuring to volunteers to know that help is simply a text away.
The appeal of text messaging extends beyond communication with existing volunteers. Agency Post reports that text messaging is a valuable tool for nonprofit marketing. For instance, by offering text message codes or QR codes, volunteer agencies can invite participants to sign up for email listservs to receive more information, RSVP to events and solicit donations. Forbes magazine recommends Mogreet’s 2013 guide to text messaging marketing to better understand the regulations and best practices in text message marketing. MobileCause has some great examples of successful volunteer program text messaging campaigns.
Given that text messaging is so widespread and relatively inexpensive, it’s surprising that it is so frequently overlooked as a tool for connecting with existing volunteers and marketing your opportunities to new ones. By implementing some of the techniques in this article, you will be well on your way to communicating via text message with current and potential volunteers in no time. Check back for future articles on specific ideas for how volunteer managers can creatively repurpose popular technologies like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook and Google Drive.