The Houston Food Bank Drives 100+ people to volunteer via a text

The Houston Food Bank Drives 100+ people to volunteer via a text

On a Friday afternoon in January, we got a call from Kathy Lipman, the Senior Manager of Corporate Engagement at the Houston Food Bank with a problem. They had some very special guests coming on Monday morning to spend time with the volunteers, but no one had registered for the shift…

“On Friday afternoon I called [RoundUp App] in need of volunteers for a Monday morning. [RoundUp App] was able to help 3x our volunteer count and had the most success of any method. Thank you [RoundUp App] – we couldn’t do it without you!”
Kathy Lipman, the Senior Manager of Corporate Engagement

Since we started RoundUp App, we had a strong belief that donors prefer a call to action via text. On average it takes less than 40 seconds to read and respond to a text; an email takes 3 minutes… that weekend with the Food Bank proved that. In the span of 2 hours, the RoundUp Team and the Food Bank crafted a series of texts to send to volunteers, who had been texted previously from the past few weeks.

On average it takes less than 40 seconds to read and respond to a text. An email takes 3 minutes…

Houston Food Bank sample volunteer text

The text was simple: “Hey {first_name}, we are so grateful that you came out during the holidays. Would you consider helping us during a slower volunteer time this Monday 1/13? We’ll have special guests from our community excited to work with volunteers. We have volunteer shifts available at 8a-12p and 1-4p. Would you partner with us on an
exciting day? Click here to register!

When our team crafts a message like this, we follow some simple rules:

1. Make it personal. Address the user by name, remind them of their visit, make it clear you care. With our texting portal, you can do all of this by adding “personalization tokens”.
2. Make it clear. Unlike email, texts cant be pages long – they have to be succinct. That is one of the reasons, we rarely encourage messaging via email. They are too long and get deleted too quickly.
3. Add action items. Give someone a link, a way to respond or an image to see. These allow the user to take immediate action, when they are looking at the message. Most importantly, if you provide a link, make sure the website is mobile friendly (go to it on your phone before send the link to everyone).

For the Food Bank, the response was overwhelming. In a matter of hours, dozens of people were signing up for the volunteer shift. They were responding the texts positively and some people thanked us for the message and politely declined. Regardless of the individual response, it shows engagement.

From Friday afternoon to Monday morning the Houston Food Bank added 107 volunteers. Allowing several Astros players (MLB team) to work with the volunteers to pack thousands of meals for Houstonians.

Houston Food Bank Volunteers

About the Houston Food Bank: America’s largest food bank in distribution leading hunger relief in 18 southeast Texas counties. Founded in 1982, the Houston Food Bank is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. We distribute fresh produce, meat and nonperishables and prepare nutritious hot meals for kids in our state-of-the-art Keegan Kitchen.

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