The title of the article next to an illustration of a graduate with his parents

5 Ways You Can Streamline College Admissions with Texts

These days, a significant portion of college life happens on students’ phones. On average, students spend almost 95 minutes a day texting—meaning that if you want their attention, you need to meet them there. This is true for both current and prospective university students.

Fortunately, the applications and uses for higher education SMS are limitless. From recruitment all the way to graduation and beyond, text messages can help you deliver a better and more engaging student experience.

In this guide, we’ll focus on where text messages fit into the admissions process. We’ll discuss how the right strategies and technology can boost efficiency and help you build relationships with prospective and admitted students. Let’s dive into five ways you can leverage SMS for admissions.

1. Connect with prospective students.

Text messages are the perfect communication channel for getting prospective students’ attention and building genuine relationships that make them interested in learning more about your school.

But why should you opt for texts instead of traditional channels like email or direct mail? Mogli’s SMS marketing guide explains that texts are the best choice because they’re easy for recipients to read and easy for your team to send with an intuitive text marketing app. Plus, SMS messages have an impressive 98% open rate, meaning recipients are much more likely to open your text messages than emails. 

To leverage this channel to connect with prospective students, you might use texts to:

  • Send a survey asking recipients how interested they are in your school and how likely they are to apply.
  • Send an automated text to everyone who attended an admissions event expressing how glad you are they attended.
  • Share links to student testimonials or blog posts on your college website that give prospects a positive impression of your school.
  • Respond to text messages from prospects to answer their questions and further engage them.

Ideally, you should build out a strategic SMS campaign cadence for prospects so you don’t overwhelm them with too many messages in a short time. For instance, you might use a content calendar to space out messages across the fall semester or use automation tools to set up certain prospect actions that trigger relevant messages.

2. Send application reminders.

Most applicants aren’t just applying to your school—they’re likely deep into their college search and may feel overwhelmed with all the applications and details they need to keep track of. Help out prospective students and encourage them to apply by sending simple text reminders about upcoming deadlines, the status of their applications, and other important announcements. 

Plus, using the best SMS marketing apps, you can easily automate messages for certain groups to streamline these reminders. For example, you might segment prospective students in your database based on their:

  • Application status: Create groups of prospects who have submitted applications, those who started them but have not finished, and those who sent in applications with missing information. You can send requests for missing application data and remind those in the “started” category to finish by the deadline.
  • Level of interest: Consider sending out a text survey that asks about prospects’ interest levels, then grouping them based on their answers. Those who are the most interested will want more frequent application reminders, while students who aren’t sure will need a more strategic approach.
  • Potential field of study: If you have multiple applications for different colleges or programs within your university, applicants will need to remember to fill them out before the deadline along with their main application. Send targeted reminders for those with an interest in specific schools so they don’t forget.

Setting up automated reminders saves your staff time, keeps prospective students in the loop, and delivers a better overall admissions experience. Even if they apply to five other colleges, these messages will give them a positive impression of your school that they’ll remember when it comes time to make their decision.

3. Respond to questions quickly.

One-to-one text messages open the door for impactful two-way communication, empowering prospects and admitted students to ask questions and bring up concerns directly to your admissions team. Instead of leaving applicants and students in the dark or losing their questions in mountains of emails, you can answer with a quick text.

When you receive a question via text, any of your team members can respond quickly to get students the information they need to navigate the admissions process with ease. With a unified SMS app that integrates with your CRM, all relevant team members can see and respond to text conversations at any time. Follow-up questions will stay organized in the same text thread so no data gets lost in the shuffle.

Get a question you can’t answer? Pass their text message along to the financial aid team or the appropriate counselor. You can even direct prospects to pages on your website with more information by sending them a link directly. 

4. Provide real-time application updates.

As every admissions counselor knows, applicants have a lot on their plates. Their future often feels unclear until they know if they’ve been admitted to their top school and made their decision, and they feel this pressure acutely. Anything you can do to ease their minds during the application process and keep them as up-to-date as possible will help.

One easy way to do so is to send real-time updates about general admission, financial aid, and scholarship applications via text. Applicants can read all the details in their emails, but they’ll greatly appreciate an immediate text alert when their application status changes. 

For example, you might send the following texts to update applicants:

  • Andrew, we just received your application for the Singh College of Business. We’ll let you know if we need any more information. Otherwise, you’re all set!
  • Hi Andrew, it looks like we’re missing your FAFSA information. Could you please edit your application in our portal here to complete it? Thank you!
  • Congratulations, Andrew! Your application for Singh College has been accepted! Please check your email for more information. We’re so excited to have you!

The easiest way to send these texts is to integrate your text automation tools with your CRM or application management software. If you go this route, Acceptd’s application management software guide suggests finding a solution with intuitive progress tracking features. This way, you can set up automated messages based on application progress and status changes.

5. Support new students in their transition into college life.

With the right SMS strategies, you can engage students with text messages throughout their entire journey with your university, from prospect to full-time student to alum

Don’t stop texting students once they’re admitted! Use SMS to help them prepare for the transition to college life during the summer and throughout their first semester. For example, you might send the following message to students admitted to your liberal arts program in July:

Langston, are you getting excited about coming to campus yet? We can’t wait! 🎉 Check out our blog post about the most important dorm supplies to pack here.

You can use messages like this to send reminders about room assignments, blog posts to ramp up excitement, and more. Put yourself in the shoes of incoming freshmen and write messages that speak to their needs, emotions, and concerns about coming to college.

All of these tips will help you connect with prospective and admitted students in the format that they’re most comfortable with—texts. Best of all, the power of texts extends beyond the admissions process. You can use SMS to improve your university’s fundraising, alumni engagement, student communications, and so much more.

The title of the text next to an illustration of a man and a woman with tools and a light bulb rocket ship between them, representing handling unexpected event challenges.

4 Tips for Handling Unexpected Challenges During Events

When planning an event for your nonprofit or association, you’re probably focused on securing a venue, soliciting sponsor support, and encouraging people to register for your event online. Likely, you’re not anticipating things that could go awry at your event. However, all event organizers know there’s a chance that something will go wrong, such as the internet going out, your check-in software malfunctioning, or attendees getting lost.

While you can’t always prevent these issues from popping up, you can prepare yourself to tackle them head-on and ensure your event remains a success. In this guide, we’ll cover tips for handling unexpected event challenges so you can remain calm, cool, and collected if and when disaster strikes.

1. Create a crisis response plan.

Before your event, create a plan for addressing specific protocols and procedures your staff should follow in the case of an unexpected challenge or emergency. While you can’t anticipate every potential issue, list risks and scenarios that could arise and how your team would handle them.

For example, let’s say you’re hosting a panel as part of your virtual event, and the featured panelist loses internet connection, causing them to miss the session. In this scenario, you’d want to have answers to the following questions ready to go:

  • Is there anyone else who can step in to fill the panelist’s place?
  • Does the panelist have any materials or resources that attendees can reference to make up for the information they missed?
  • Will you need to make changes to the event schedule to accommodate the issue?

Additionally, delegate roles for your event staff, volunteers, and other key stakeholders in a possible crisis. That way, everyone knows their responsibilities and can prepare themselves to take action instead of overwhelming the event organizers with questions and concerns.

2. Familiarize yourself with your event tech in advance.

When you’re hosting an event, many of the potential issues you’re anticipating likely have to do with the event technology you’re using. Make sure all staff and stakeholders know how to use the software they’re responsible for—whether that’s your event management platform, app, video conferencing software, text-to-give tool, or something else entirely.

To get all team members on board with your event technology, follow these steps:

  • Assess your training needs. Start by determining who needs to learn how to use which features of your software. For example, volunteers may only need to learn how to check people in with your event management software while staff members must be familiar with how to set up gamification challenges and communicate with attendees.
  • Gather or create training materials. Next, provide your team with the resources they need to familiarize themselves with the software. These may include user manuals, online tutorials, help guides, and training videos. Additionally, you may compile a list of tips you’ve come up with after testing out the software yourself.
  • Offer hands-on training sessions. Lastly, allow team members to experiment with the software in a training session. Consider demonstrating how to use the tool and walking through key features so people can immediately start testing the software and ask questions.

Additionally, EventMobi’s event management software guide recommends looking into the customer support options for your event tools. Will you be able to contact them during the event just in case of an emergency? Some providers will even send a representative of their team on-site, which can help ensure everything runs smoothly and that your team can quickly resolve any issues with the software.

3. Communicate effectively with stakeholders.

If things don’t go as planned, being open and transparent with your stakeholders is essential. Keep everyone informed about the situation—including event staff, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers, and attendees—by:

  • Notifying everyone as soon as possible. Once you’ve assessed the issue and formed a solid plan to tackle it, let your stakeholders know what’s going on. That way, you promote honesty with your stakeholders, even when everything isn’t going according to plan.
  • Providing regular updates. Keep everyone updated on the status of the issue through announcements or push notifications on your event or conference app. For instance, attendees and speakers will appreciate knowing if there are any changes to your event schedule so they can plan accordingly.
  • Explaining your efforts to resolve the issue. Assure stakeholders that you’re working hard to resolve the issue by explaining how you’re fixing things. For example, if your internet connection goes out during event check-in, explain to incoming attendees that you’re currently working with the internet company to get the connection back up and running and will check them in manually in the meantime.

While you may be nervous about disclosing any problems or shortcomings during your event, your stakeholders will prefer your honesty over attempts to cover up the issue and hide it from those involved with your event.

4. Learn from your experience.

Mistakes happen, but it’s how you handle them that matters. After your event, debrief and evaluate how your team handled any challenges. Compare your original crisis plan to what actually occurred, and make updates as needed.

Then, document any lessons learned, best practices, and key takeaways to inform your future event planning and management efforts. For instance, if your conference venue was difficult for attendees to find and didn’t have adequate on-site parking, you may note to seek out another venue for your next event.

Lastly, ask stakeholders for their input. According to 360MatchPro, 66% of people volunteer to improve their community, and 83% volunteer to contribute to a cause they care about. These statistics demonstrate that your volunteers—and other stakeholders—are invested in your success, and they may be able to offer insight into what worked well and what didn’t from a different perspective.

With a plan (and the right mindset) for mitigating challenges, your team will be better prepared to handle any unexpected issues, hopefully alleviating some stress for your organization. After the event, be sure to thank attendees for their patience and positivity despite any challenges that may have occurred, and follow up with additional event or engagement opportunities.

This guide shares insights into the motivations behind why companies donate to nonprofits.

How and Why Do Today’s Companies Donate to Nonprofits?

Companies gave $29.48 billion to nonprofits last year, representing an incredible 3.4% increase. Nonprofits Source shared these impressive numbers in its corporate giving trends article, indicating that companies proactively seek causes like yours to support.

The benefits of corporate support for nonprofits are clear: more revenue, extra volunteer power, and greater brand exposure. But what’s in it for the businesses? It turns out quite a bit!

It’s about more than just looking good or getting a tax write-off. A lot is happening behind the scenes, and we’re excited to share a peek. First, we’ll explore common ways companies give back before diving into the corporate motivations behind these programs. That way, you can find the best opportunities for your cause and confidently interact with companies.

5 Ways Companies Donate to Nonprofits

From employee giving programs to direct donations, corporate giving looks different at every business, yet some programs are more popular than others. Let’s start with the most impactful one.

1. Matching Gifts

Corporate matching gifts help companies give back year-round. When a business offers this program, it promises to match employees’ donations to eligible nonprofits. The approach is straightforward:

  1. A donor gives to your nonprofit.
  2. The individual researches their employer’s program using a company search tool.
  3. If eligible, they submit a matching gift request via paper form or their company’s employee giving portal.
  4. After confirming the gift, the company donates to your nonprofit.

These programs empower your nonprofit to boost donations. When someone is on the fence, being match-eligible may be the push they need to give. In fact, 84% of donors are more likely to donate if they know their gift is match-eligible. In some cases, donors will actually give more — 1 in every 3 donors to be exact.

Knowing a match is on the line even gamifies the giving experience, especially when an employer sets an annual donation goal. There’s just one problem: a lack of awareness. 

You need to educate donors about these programs. Our favorite option is to embed a search tool into your donation page:

An illustration of a matching gift search tool embedded in the Cat Rescue Club’s online donation form

This catches donors’ attention during the height of their engagement. Using the matching gift database, they can research their companies’ guidelines. Matching gift automation software can also follow up with donors based on eligibility. While a match-eligible donor may receive an email linking to their employer’s match-request form, a donor with unknown match eligibility may be prompted to research their eligibility.

Go further than that by featuring matching gifts on your Ways to Give page, a dedicated matching gifts page, fundraising appeals, and social media. Share testimonials from beneficiaries about how an increased donation helped them, and ask your corporate partners to promote the opportunity to employees.

2. Volunteer Grants

Corporate volunteers already lend a helping hand, but did you know some employers will donate to further volunteers’ impact?

Volunteer grants are financial donations companies make to nonprofits where their employees volunteer regularly. This monetizes the volunteer hours their workforce contributes. For example, a company might donate $25 per volunteer hour, with a minimum of 5 hours required.

This encourages employees to engage in community service, knowing additional financial backing will amplify their efforts. Your matching gift database may even house information on companies’ volunteer grant programs, helping you pinpoint these opportunities.

3. Direct Donations

Other common ways companies give back are direct donations, grants, and sponsorships. For instance, AP News reports that Yield Giving, billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s foundation, announced it would give $640 million to 361 small nonprofits that responded to an open call for applications. The open call asked for community-led nonprofits with missions “to advance the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means.” Eligibility was limited to nonprofits with annual budgets between $1-$5 million.

According to Renee Karibi-Whyte, the senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, open grant opportunities empower organizations without connections to specific funders. These opportunities surface organizations that wouldn’t otherwise have access to those offering major funding. Her company advises funders who run competitive grants and philanthropic prize competitions.

Companies often offer grants through their foundations. For example, 360MatchPro’s list of corporate philanthropy examples shares that the Coca-Cola Foundation awarded $94.8 million in grants to over 300 organizations in 2022.

4. In-Kind Gifts

Companies give in-kind donations of goods or services, enabling them to leverage their unique assets to support charity. Here are common examples of in-kind donations:

  • Pro bono services like designing nonprofit websites or offering legal advice
  • Products, such as how Chobani donates its food products to food banks, schools, and other organizations
  • Free equipment or technology, such as how Google offers Workspace to nonprofits and free advertising credits via the Google Ad Grant program

In-kind gifts can directly fulfill your nonprofit’s specific operational needs or project requirements, reducing expenses and allowing you to allocate your budget directly toward your programs.

5. Cause Marketing

When a company donates a percentage of its sales, it’s known as cause marketing. This approach supports and advertises your nonprofit while also increasing consumer loyalty by aligning the company’s products and services with social causes.

For example, Bombas is a popular retailer. For every item a customer buys, the company donates a pair of socks, a t-shirt, or underwear to a shelter, transitional living facility, or other relevant organization. Through its network of over 3,500 Giving Partners, Bombas has donated over 100 million items.

A summary of Bombas’ impact via in-kind donations, detailed above

4 Reasons Companies Donate to Nonprofits

If you’re a corporate partnerships manager at your nonprofit, understanding how companies give back is important, but you also need to understand why businesses engage in philanthropy. Then, you can align your communication strategy with each company’s goals and interests to secure financial support.

1. Communicate their values

Donating to nonprofits demonstrates a company’s commitment to specific social, environmental, or ethical issues, reinforcing its core values to consumers, employees, and stakeholders.

It’s about strengthening brand reputation, aligning the company’s image with stakeholders’ values, and using resources to influence the causes it supports.

To do this, companies often donate to causes aligned with their products and services. For example, The John Deere Foundation recently announced a three-year $3.9 million grant to the National FFA Organization. For context, John Deere manufactures agricultural machinery, lawn care equipment, and similar products. The unrestricted grant will enable the FFA to provide resources and educational programs to students interested in agricultural career pathways.

“This support truly helps us work toward our mission of preparing members for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success,” said FFA President Molly Ball.

As you can imagine, that grant will go a long way in supporting one of John Deere’s core values: a love for agriculture. Consider how your mission aligns with different companies’ values.

2. Boost employee satisfaction

Employees seek companies that give back to charity. Our employee giving research found that 86% of employees want to participate in corporate giving. CSR programs are linked to increased employee engagement, improved productivity, and reduced turnover by up to 50%.

Corporate philanthropy gives employees a sense of purpose beyond daily business operations. In particular, workplace giving involves employees in philanthropy.

Matching gifts make employees actively involved in corporate philanthropy. Meanwhile, volunteer grants turn employees’ hands-on involvement into financial support that amplifies their impact. Then, in-kind gifts allow employees to leverage their professional skills or contribute goods to nonprofits.

Knowing this, your nonprofit can target corporate employees to direct their workplace giving contributions to your cause. You can also communicate this benefit to corporate partners to increase their likelihood of launching these programs.

3. Tax Deductions

While companies genuinely want to give back, charitable spending is also tax-deductible. This financial incentive makes philanthropy more economically feasible for businesses and encourages them to allocate more resources toward social causes.

Use this compelling point in fundraising pitches. By highlighting donations’ altruistic and fiscal advantages, your nonprofit can strengthen its case for support and show businesses how contributing can be financially prudent.

4. Market Expansion

When a company donates to your nonprofit, it can connect with your donors, volunteers, and other corporate sponsors. That means it can introduce its brand to new markets and demographics. Plus, these new audience members will already know that the company has a philanthropic mindset, positioning the brand favorably in their eyes.

The best part is that this benefit goes both ways! Your nonprofit can access new donors and volunteers from the business’s loyal customers and employees. Corporate giving isn’t limited to industry giants either; local businesses can also boost your reach, connecting you with community members invested in making a difference.

In conversations with businesses, propose marketing their brand as a trade-off for financial support. For instance, if companies sponsor your upcoming 5K, promise to display their logos on promotional materials and event signage, offering them valuable visibility in return for their backing.

Getting Started

Companies donate in various ways for various reasons. There’s a growing commitment among businesses to contribute beyond mere profit-making, but the main point is companies are more philanthropic than ever. 

Your nonprofit needs to tap into these opportunities. When navigating this evolving terrain, understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of corporate giving is crucial for fostering beneficial partnerships. 

Start by searching your CRM for matching gift and volunteer grant opportunities. Contact eligible supporters and explain the grant application process. When your nonprofit joins forces with philanthropic businesses like this, the potential for positive change is boundless.