Chris Day of SerialYouthPastor.com responded to one of my ideas in 130 Youth Ministry Tips & Ideas ebook about using a Skype-in phone number as an information hotline for parents and students to call. During our discussion I mentioned that I’m also thinking about using Skype as a mass text messaging service for sending quick updates and cancellation notices to my students, but at $0.12 per message, that’s too pricey for me. Chris referred me to TxtSignal.com, which is just what I was looking for!
Txt Signal lets me have multiple groups of cell phone contacts. So, I have one group for Jr. High, one for Sr. High and another for cancellation notices for a weekly event we’re doing this summer. The best part is that I don’t have to manually enter all the kids cell phone numbers and accidentally risk accumulating text charges for those who don’t have text messaging plans. The service provides me a link I can easily post on our youth group’s website or send out via email for people to click and sign themselves up. Plus, they can also easily unsubscribe from the service later if they want, so there’s little maintenance on my part.
The downside to the service is that I can’t personalize the callback number as my own cell number. Messages come from [pickaname]@txtsig.us, which cannot be replied to by recipients.
Service plans start $7/month, but I’m using the $14/month plan with 100 contacts and 60 group messages. That’s 6,000 text messages for $14 as opposed to 116 messages for the same price if I used Skype’s SMS service.
Of course, if you have a smaller group you can follow Matt‘s instructions for sending mass text messages for free, but it requires a lot more footwork and I’ve found it isn’t as clean or reliable.
Thanks, Chris, for pointing me to this resource. It’s gonna be a life saver!
[UPDATE: Matt, from TxtSignal, informed me of a promo code they have for ministries or any organization that works toward ministry efforts. The promo code is good for a minimum of 10% off and even slightly more depending on the plan (for example, the $14/month plan becomes $12/month, or, 14% off). When signing up for service, use this promotional code: —–]
[UPDATE: The promo code is no longer available, but if you set up an account, email firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll setup a 10% discount for ministries.]
Posted on May 23, 2007