Bulk text-message service providers for churches
Increasingly, your members connect through their phones. Putting a message into your audience’s hands is practically gold in the communications world. So here is our comprehensive list of text-message services you can use to connect with your congregation.
Decide on a cost structure
The volume of use will determine the cost structure. If you do not send many text messages, you may want to choose a service that charges per text. If you send multiple messages a week to large groups, look for a flat fee with a good bulk discount.
Keywords are the numbers or words that people text to sign up for various communications. For example, if someone texts the word “MHUMC” (64862) to your number it could trigger a donation or sign them up to receive text messages. The more keywords offered, the more lists to which you can invite people to subscribe and the more donation campaigns you can start.
TxtSignal: This service has had an excellent record for several years. They have some great group text plans with a few customizations. Sometimes messages come through with odd sender ID numbers, which can be confusing. The web interface to send messages is simple to use. TxtSignal gives you a Web form to embed onto a website to allow people to sign up via the Web to receive messages.
Mighty Text: This is a free application built for Android. You can send text and multimedia messages from a computer tablet or phone as if you were texting completely from your phone. You can also synchronize your phone with a computer and even get low-battery alerts. Check it out if you are an Android user.
Group Text: This is a great app for texting to a group from your iPhone. Create groups from your contacts list. Send template messages and photos. With this and other iPhone group-text apps, you must go into your settings and turn off the group text-messaging option (that allows people texted in a group to text in that string of conversation). This will allow you to send to more people via the group-text app.
YourMobileChurch: If you want something that integrates a bit more than message servicing, YourMobileChurch might be a good option. They provide options to develop a mobile app as well as mobile giving. These options make it more expensive than other services, but if you know you will get a return on the investment, it could be worth it. A limited free trial is available.
Remind: This free option, originally designed for classroom settings, works for church groups or leadership teams. It allows you to get your message to a group that has opted into that list.
EzTexting: This is similar to several other texting services. You can send many texts for a monthly subscription. If you are unsure how much you will use a text-messaging service, this might be your best option as they offer a pay-as-you-go plan. If you don’t send a single text message during a month, you will not be charged. A free trial lets you see if this is best for your congregation.
ChurchTextPro: This also has many of the same features as the other services. Two unique aspects are posting your text message to Web services and downloading incoming messages. The cost per month is quite high in comparison to other services.
One Call Now: A neat feature is the option to send a voice message to people. This service has some of the other basic features and an option for a mobile app. If your group is larger than 100, request a quote. It may or may not fit your budget.
GroupMe: Designed more as a chatroom for smaller groups, this could be an option for smaller churches, youth groups and leadership teams. Your group can chat through the free app that works with your texting services.
SendHub: Designed originally as a business phone alternative, SendHub can become your phone system to take messages and to send and receive calls. The basic plan is reasonable if you will not send a huge number of text messages. If your group is large, you might consider this a replacement for a traditional cell-phone package.
Kikutext: Originally designed for teachers to communicate with their students’ parents, this has a reasonable price, serves an appropriate number of groups and includes enough contacts to fit many church and church-group needs. There is a free option to test the service with a leadership team or small group.
Class Pager: Also designed for classroom use, there is a free option for church groups. The paid options are reasonable for the number of contacts allowed. The limit on the number of contacts on the free plan may make it unsuitable for using with groups of more than 25 contacts.
Sometimes the church-management software (ChMS) you use will give you the ability to send text messages. These can differ from the services highlighted above as they might not have all the perks. Sometimes a database can send but not receive messages. Still, if you have this as an option built into your ChMS, it is worth trying.
Ministry Tracker: This cloud-based ChMS has several built-in options for sending emails and text messages. The text-messaging system charges per message.
This is a comprehensive list, but it certainly does not include everything that is available. Unsure where to start? Pick a free option or trial. Pay for the service if it works for you.