One of the most common questions we receive from charities that are experimenting with text-to-donate for the first time is how to successfully engage their audience and market their campaign. While we wish we could have a team of Don Drapers and ad men capable of marketing every single charity’s campaign and driving them to success, this is sadly not the case for our small team. In fact, the majority of our insight actually comes from simple observation. With over 11 years serving the charitable community, we have paid close attention to charities and the ways they have found success. Many charities have utilized the power of social media and their loyal following to engage with supporters while others have leveraged radio spots or live events to tap into an entirely new audience. Of course, what works for some is not guaranteed to work for others, which can make it challenging to steer charities in the right direction. While there is no perfect formula we can offer charities, what we have seen time and time again is that the key to engaging your audience begins with your keyword.


Before we dive right into how to select the right keyword, it is important to understand what a keyword actually is. Simply put, the keyword (or emoji!) is what triggers the donation flow. Each charity needs to have a unique keyword + Short Code combination to be able to launch a campaign. To make a donation through the text-to-donate channel, a donor will need to open a new message on their mobile device and in the recipient field type in the charity’s 5-digit Short Code number (20222, 30333, 41010, 45678, or 80100). In the body of that message, the donor types in the charity’s promoted keyword, hits send, which then initiates the donation process.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of what a keyword is, let’s jump into how to select the right keyword to engage your audience. One of the many benefits to mobile giving is that it calls for non-traditional thinking and some creativity on the charity’s end. However, when choosing a keyword that will be effective, we recommend following these 3 tips:

  1. Keep it short and sweet! We recommend choosing a keyword 8 characters or less.
  2. Think of something that not only resonates with your target audience, but also something that can be easily tied back to the cause your organization supports or a specific campaign.
  3. Consider human error and auto-correct and try to avoid using acronyms.

When it comes to promoting your campaign call-to-action, we also recommend that you promote your keyword using all capital letters for emphasis. Wherever possible, try to make the Short Code and keyword stand out – so simple, but just look at the difference:

Text Keyword to 45678 to donate $10 to MGFC.


Text KEYWORD to 45678 to donate $10 to MGFC.

If you’re not sure what keyword best suits your upcoming campaign, consider using an emoji instead!  This is a newer feature that has become a dynamic alternative to a traditional keyword; with emojis, you have the ability to pick any one out of hundreds that will best represent your organization / campaign. Going this route can be a great way to tie in common promotional imagery or even branded colours of your cause/ organization. For example:

  •  Humane societies could use the dog 🐶 and/or the cat 🐱 emoji.
  •  Health associations can pick emojis that represent their awareness colours; hearts are always a great choice: ❤️💙💜💛💚

Emojis are a fun way to grab attention, but not everyone is emoji-savvy, and so MGFC offers a free keyword to support the emoji. E.g. if you want to use the dog emoji, we’ll also make sure that anyone who texts the word DOG will also be able to make a donation.

Choosing a keyword is an important part of the campaign planning process, but it doesn’t need to be a daunting one – we’re here to help and our goal is to help you reach YOUR fundraising goal! What keyword or emoji would you choose?

Published April 27, 2021 by:
Megan Bertrim
Charity Outreach Coordinator, MGFC
[email protected]