How Online Text Messaging Can Benefit Youth and Community Groups

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online text messaging for community groups

Most youth and community groups are volunteer-led, and either charitably funded or run on donations, so communications need not only to be effective, but they also have to be easy, and quick for volunteers to use, and low cost.

In our ever more digitally connected world of email, social media, and smartphones, it can be tempting to think of SMS messaging as an almost outdated technology. However, if you are looking for an efficient, effective, and inexpensive communications tool for your youth or community organisation, SMS messaging does have many benefits.

Cutting Through The Noise

81% of the UK population own a smartphone (Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 2016), constantly bombarding us with tweets, emails, Facebook status updates and other marketing messages. Through all of the noise and clutter, SMS messages still have the power and urgency to demand our immediate attention. Research still shows that users check and reply to a text message sooner than an email or other notification, especially if it is from a trusted source.

For your youth or community group, this can be a valuable way to communicate important or urgent messages to members – or their parents – or volunteers. For example, when you need to make a last-minute change of venue or send parents a reminder about the reply slip for next week’s outing to the local zoo.

When You Need The Message to Get Through, No Matter What

If you work with children and young people, especially, or perhaps vulnerable adults, there will be moments when you need to guarantee that your message will get through. Maybe you are on your way back from a residential weekend, the bus has been delayed in motorway traffic, and you need to let the parents know everyone is safe, but you are going to be delayed. With an online text messaging provider, you have a safe and reliable solution to your problem:

  • You only need to type your message once. The online SMS system will do the rest, sending a copy of your text to every parent on your messaging list.
  • Because SMS messaging works even over a weak 2G mobile signal, you can be confident that your message will get through.
  • The online SMS system will collect delivery reports so that you can be certain that all of the parents received your message, for that extra peace of mind.

Most important of all, using a robust, simple, text messaging provider set up to manage unexpected situations like this leaves you free to handle the situation in front of you, without having to worry about sending texts and making unnecessary phone calls.

Pre-Planned Messaging - Taking the Load off

Using an online SMS provider can allow hard-working volunteers and other team members to share the workload and pre-plan messages to group members and other contacts. When you know that you are going to be working hard running a busy event, or are simply too busy with other vital tasks to send that message at the right time, this tool can help keep things running smoothly.

You can even use it to send messages that appear to be from you or your team when you would not otherwise be able to send a text message at all. For example, when you know you are going to be driving, or on a flight. Perhaps a reminder of an airport pickup time, or an arrival back at base from a day trip away.

Making it Personal

A key advantage of using an online text messaging provider is the advanced features they provide over simply sending group messages from your own phone. One of those is personalisation, for example, the ability to include a contact’s name in the text that you send them. So that a contact “Joe Jones” could receive a text starting “Hi Joe…,” for example.

Making your messages personal in this way matters more than you might imagine, with contacts much more likely to both read and respond to your texts if they include their name than if they do not. For community groups involving volunteers, this is a fantastic tool for saying ‘thanks’ following large events. It is no substitute, of course, for a genuine face-to-face thank you, but a personalised text message offering your organisation’s appreciation for a volunteer’s time and efforts can go a long way.

Advertising and Recruiting New Members

A common complaint from community group leaders is having to give out their own home or mobile numbers in advertising or recruitment materials. With the SMS marketing features included by your online text messaging provider, this need no longer be the case.

Options for receiving messages can include a virtual mobile number (VMN), or even a custom shortcode. Either option allows you to receive messages online, or have them forwarded to you by email, or to your mobile through an app or by SMS text.

In addition to the advantages for volunteers personal privacy, using a VMN or shortcode means that when there are changes in the team managing or running your community group, or when someone is on holiday, messages can easily be managed by another member. This can be achieved either by accessing the messages directly through the online SMS system or by modifying the forwarding rules to send the received text messages to an alternative recipient.

As Easy as Sending a Regular Text, or Even an Email

Youth and community group volunteers do not, in most cases, sign up to be in charge of marketing and communications, but nevertheless, it is a job that needs doing. Thankfully, using an online text messaging system is no harder than sending a normal text or even an email.

Authorised volunteers can choose to send messages directly through a user-friendly online portal, by sending an email to a dedicated ’email-to-SMS’ address, or by using an integrated add-on for Microsoft Outlook. All of these send the same text, to the same contacts, through the same system, in the most user-friendly way possible. This makes the task of keeping your organisation’s communications running as quick and easy as possible so your volunteers have more time to spend doing what they do best.

For more information on using SMS messaging for your youth or community group, contact fastsms today.

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