Food for Thought: NYC Food Bank Scoops Up Donations on Mobile
City Harvest maximizes donor reach with Text-To-Give
In September 2020, Engage by Cell sat down with Gabrielle Mizrathi, Senior Business Partnerships Manager with City Harvest to find out why New York City’s largest food rescue organization turned to mobile fundraising.
Senior Business Partnerships Manager
What led you to consider mobile fundraising?
“Mobile giving is something that my manager wanted to implement for quite some time, but we're a medium sized organization, so it was challenging to convince leadership to invest in this technology. We looked at a lot of different options. When we found Engage by Cell, we had finally found the organization that was meeting all our needs. We wanted to make it quick, easy, and simple to give. We actually were planning to implement this before COVID-19 hit, so the timing could not have been more perfect.”
How have you promoted your keyword and short code?
“When we have press appearances with influencers who are raising awareness for City Harvest, we now combine that with Text-To-Give. For example, as a food organization, we have a lot of celebrity chefs who support us. So during a morning show cooking demo, the chef can talk about their work with City Harvest. In the past, those were just awareness building moments, but now we have those chefs shout out our keyword and say, ‘Text FEEDNYC to 20222 if you're interested in this work, and make a quick donation right now.’ We've definitely seen huge spikes there.”
How is Text-To-Give different from your email fundraising campaigns?
“For Text-To-Give, we're really looking at a very different audience than our email audience. People who receive regular emails from us get a lot of programmatic information. Whereas with Text-To-Give, it's more about the moment. You hear about City Harvest, you think it sounds great, or maybe someone that you respect is sharing it on TV or via social media. It's such an easy, low lift that you just give. It's a different kind of donor, but definitely someone we still want to capture. Something really interesting about the platform is it reports back, state by state, who is giving. Obviously, the bulk of donors are still New York or the northeast area, but we have donors all across the country now through Engage by Cell. So they're seeing something on TV or social and they're still giving, which is really nice for a local organization like us.”
With Text-To-Give, organizations choose a set amount (between $5 and $50) that will be charged to the donor’s cell phone bill. How did you select the donation amount?
“For City Harvest, we're very lucky that for every dollar amount, we can tie an impact stat directly to it. For instance, one of our keywords is LUNCH and it’s tied to a $15 donation. This is connected to our annual Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign. We communicate heavily through advertising and messaging that $15 helps feed 55 New York City children. Our hope is that people will associate those two numbers, and as a result, it's one of our most successful campaigns. One concern was that everyone was going to donate with Text-To-Give and we would miss out on higher donations that they would have given on the website. But if someone wants to donate on their phone and they don't feel like pulling up our website, we would have lost them otherwise. So there's a risk but there's also a lot of reward.”
When people are texting in a donation, how can you follow up with those donors if you don’t know their name or email address?
“We added a service called the Fifth Message where after someone completes a donation, they receive another text message that says, ‘Thanks for your donation. To learn more, fill out this form and we'll add you to our email list.’ That's a way for people to opt in to stay in touch with our organization.”
What kind of feedback do you get with the Fifth Message service?
Are people willing to give that extra little bit of information?
“Yes, absolutely. Something we say internally is that we only want people to opt in who want to opt in. So if someone gave $25 and that's all they want to do with City Harvest, that's okay. We never have a problem if someone opts out. It's a way of naturally cleaning our list. We only want the people who want to receive the information from us.”
City Harvest uses Engage by Cell’s mobile giving service, exclusive for non-profit organizations. Donors text a unique keyword to a designated short code (20222) to make a donation. The process takes less than 30 seconds and the dollar amount is charged to the donor’s cell phone bill.
Text FEEDNYC to 20222
and donate $25 to City Harvest today.
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