Like most organizations, you’ve probably been a part of an event where you’d like to collect contact information from prospective volunteers, donors, or partners. Just a few short years ago, what was the general approach? By default, many would rely on paper and pen at a booth. Or slightly better, a laptop or web form was thrown into the mix. Both are great starting points, especially if you want direct face-to-face time with folks as they sign up.

However, this setup significantly holds you back in scenarios like the following:

  • A large number of attendees
  • A spread-out venue
  • Speaking to the entire event at once
  • A crowded field of other organizations on-the-scene
  • Your organization’s information on brochures, signage, presentations, etc.
  • Folks wanting to sign up after the event has ended

In all cases, you’re limited by both space and time. Requiring everyone to come find your booth simply doesn’t work, plus you’ve missed any in-the-moment opportunities. You’re creating multiple barriers to entry, limiting your eventual reach.

An Example: Destiny Rescue @ Winter Jam

As a current and ongoing example, Destiny Rescue (one of my wife and I’s favorite organizations) was invited to be a showcased partner for the entire 2020 Winter Jam Tour. They’ve been given a speaking spot at almost 50 concerts through the US, all with thousands of Christian music fans in attendance. And as an added blessing, they were given a coveted spot, immediately prior to the headliner performance (David Crowder).

So, how could they make the best of the incredible opportunity, filling their engagement pipelines as much as possible?


At Impact Upgrade, we’re obsessed with barrier removal, and we jumped at the chance to hook Destiny Rescue up with something that would work effortlessly. Thanks to Twilio, purchasing a phone number (320-DESTINY) and creating an SMS-driven experience is both cheap and easy. We were able to quickly build an interactive and guided process. Add in some customized code to automatically push the information to Salesforce (create a Contact/Opportunity, assign an Owner, and peg it to a Campaign), their end-to-end pipeline was fully automated!

The flow looks like the following. Both the speaker and the presentation ask everyone to text “rescue” to 320-DESTINY. The two-way conversation is really simple:

This setup has other benefits:

  • The phone number is memorable (or people can take a photo of it at the event), so anyone can text it at a later date and still sign up.
  • If someone sends “rescue”, but doesn’t complete the second step of sending their name/email, we’re able to send a follow-up message the next afternoon as a reminder.
  • This entire setup is extremely flexible and reusable, allowing Destiny Rescue to tweak it for a variety of events and opportunities/pipelines.
  • Twilio Programmable Messaging allows this same setup to be used with any supported messaging platform: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. It also allows multiple, regionalized phone numbers in over 150 countries to be used for the same flow. So if you’re a part of events in other countries, you can use local numbers or alternate platforms (ex: in some countries, WhatsApp is more ubiquitous and reliable than SMS).

This is the new norm.

Interestingly, of the several organizations that were invited to be a part of Winter Jam, every single one is using SMS in one way or another. Even some of the bands are incorporating it. Arguably, this is no longer bleeding-edge, but the new norm that many nonprofits could benefit from catching up to!

We’d love to help your organization build similar experiences! Not only is SMS useful for collecting information, but interactivity can holistically replace the need for many web platforms, mobile apps, etc. (we’ll dive into more detail about this in a later post). Let us know if we can help upgrade your impact!