By Suzanne Mooney
Waiting by the phone and hoping it will ring is no longer an activity reserved for starry-eyed romantics in the throes of a budding romance. Hardy souls on the front lines of peer-to-peer fundraising events across the country are doing a lot of waiting and hoping by their phones, too.
While phone outreach has traditionally been a reliable method for connecting with past and current peer-to-peer fundraising event participants, we have entered a new era: the era of people not answering their phones. This lack of a response results in frontline staff leaving voicemail after voicemail, and then waiting for a call that never comes.
At Event 360, we’re not content to sit around and wait. Our clients rely on us to help them create meaningful relationships with their constituents, and relationships can’t be built through voicemails that are never heard or never returned. To address the changing times, we have been testing a peer-to-peer text messaging platform called Hustle.
Hustle gained attention in 2016 when the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign used it as their texting tool to connect with voters and volunteers. Initially focused on politics, Hustle is quickly expanding its services to other industries. It allows organizations to connect with constituents in a personal but scalable way via text message and has proven to be a catalyst for developing new relationships and deepening existing ones.
We still need to crunch the numbers before determining whether it makes financial sense for our clients to implement Hustle on a wider scale in 2019, but I’m already hooked. In the interest of helping other peer-to-peer fundraisers capitalize on this trending platform, we’re sharing our initial thoughts right away.
Here are five things I love about Hustle:
- It’s easy to use. The Hustle texting platform is very intuitive. After just one training webinar, a review of the Hustle Best Practices Guide, and a few hours exploring and testing the platform, we had a sufficient understanding of how it all works and were ready to send our first texts. Since then, we have continued to learn, experiment, and fine-tune our efforts.
- It’s personal. Unlike mass texting platforms, each Hustle text is sent individually (this is a requirement of this system, which allows text messages without an opt in by participants). There are pre-loaded scripts and custom fields to make it efficient and scalable, but when someone responds to one of our texts, they quickly realize they are interacting with a human being, not a chat-bot. We’ve embraced this valuable piece of advice that our Hustle team gave us before we started, and it’s resulted in authentic conversations—“Treat it like you’re texting a friend. Have fun with it and your audience will, too!”
- It’s helping us create meaningful relationships. At 7:45 p.m. on a recent Saturday evening, just hours after we wrapped up MuckFest® MS Denver, one of our team captains texted us a photo of two of her teammates heading off to their high school homecoming dance. She thanked us for a great event and wanted to share that the girls got home in time to rinse off the mud and prepare to dance the night away. Going from months of unreturned phone calls to this level of personal interaction is priceless!
- It’s enhanced the participant experience. Once a constituent receives their first Hustle text they can initiate new conversations with us in the future. Rather than having to dial a phone number and an extension or write out an email and wait for us to respond, they can reach out for help in real time. They’re getting the support they need when they need it. More than one texter has thanked us for our prompt and thorough assistance!
- It’s resulting in registrations. Using trackable links and unique registration codes, we’ve been able to identify which event registrations are coming through as a result of our Hustle efforts. We still need to calculate the ROI and CPA once we wrap up our pilot program, but the initial response is positive. In one test, we saw registrations from a recruitment audience that has been hearing from us by phone and email for months without taking action. Communicating a similar message via a new channel resulted in a different—and better—response.
Hustle is revolutionizing the way we communicate. Instead of resigning ourselves to 30-second voicemails that may or may not get listened to, we’re meeting people where they want to be met and seeing results because of it. Hoping and waiting is no way to change the world. Here’s to a future filled with fewer voicemails, and more interactions and impact.
Suzanne Mooney has worked in peer-to-peer fundraising for 14 years and is grateful to be able to make a living by making the world a better place. She has extensive experience in participant recruitment and retention, communications, and consulting services. She currently works on MuckFest MS and would love for you to get muddy with us. When Suzanne’s not working, you can find her running, riding her bike, or snuggling old dogs.