Text-to-Give Apps: The Key to Charitable Giving During a Pandemic

People are staying connected and maintaining their sense of community through charitable giving using easy and convenient text-to-give apps.


People have learned in 2020 how to distance socially, staying a safe distance away from others to avoid contracting the coronavirus and to slow the progression of the pandemic. You may think that a greater awareness of physical distance has distanced people in other ways. According to Chris Yurko, director of business development at First American Payment Systems, however, one way in which people are staying connected and maintaining their sense of community is charitable giving, especially when text-to-give apps make giving easy and convenient.

“Based on my experience and in talking to churches, nonprofits and charitable organizations, people don’t give based on their circumstances. They give because of the type of people they are. They care about their causes, and they don’t want to see them fail,” Yurko says.

After one of the highest years for giving in history, with U.S. charitable giving totaling about $450 billion in 2019, DonorsTrust reports donors are maintaining momentum. The organization reports that donors have recommended 544,000 grants totaling $2.4 billion from January to April 2020, an increase over the same time in 2019. Kiplinger cites some additional reasons that, even with major disruption this year, giving will continue. For example, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows an above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions of $300 per person in addition to their standard deduction for 2020.

Ways to Give without Risking Health

Yurko says that to make giving easier, organizations are leveraging technology and capitalizing on the card-not-present market. Online giving continues to be a popular option. Also, unattended payment kiosks can provide church congregants or nonprofit supporters an easy way to make donations, although their value proposition has changed during the pandemic as everyone thinks twice before touching a shared device or screen.

The most popular solution Yurko has seen in 2020 is the text-to-give app. “It’s so simple,” he says. “If I were deploying a new solution now, I’d focus on having a great text-to-give solution– I wouldn’t even develop a mobile app.”

“The key is texting. No one is checking emails, and most apps don’t win real estate on people’s phones. But people see their text messages every day,” he explains.

Organizations supported by donations can use the solution to send reminders that it’s time to make a monthly donation or send a text to supporters inviting them to make a one-time contribution. Solutions sometimes take the donor to a transaction page, but others use tokens to enable the donor simply to type “yes” to make a contribution.

Keep Giving Secure

Yurko says ISVs developing text-to-give apps can turn to payment technology partners with confidence. “Leave it to the processors that know how to manage payment security,” Yurko says. He adds that using a payments company keeps payments separate, so if an issue occurs with your gateway or processor, it won’t impact your software. Finding an experienced payments partner also helps to keep your user’s PCI scope to a minimum. “If you’re not working with a processor that can take you out of PCI scope, you’re not doing a good enough job evaluating your payment solution,” he says.

The Status of Giving

As with so many areas, philanthropy may be pent up, with people focusing on the organizations they currently support and not entering into new commitments. When the pandemic and the economy stabilize, the demand for technology to reach out to new donors and make giving easier for existing patrons is poised to increase. The demand for text-to-give apps won’t be driven by social distancing, but by finding an effective way to market and build relationships with donors.

Is there value in enabling payment through your text application?

More information on text-to-give options is available from First American Payment Systems.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

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Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.