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Breaking Barriers: The Evolution and Future of Text-to-Pledge®

Breaking Barriers: The Evolution and Future of Text-to-Pledge®

Chapter Leadership Brief 4.5.24

by David J. Mack IV 
Vice President of Communications, Sophist

In the ever-changing universe of fundraising, innovation is the key to success. 

As Vice President of Communications at Sophist and a dedicated advocate for active philanthropy, I've had a major role in the establishment and development of Text-to-Pledge® (TTP), the groundbreaking platform that redefined how nonprofits engage with donors and drive contributions. In the major gala environment, TTP changed the live appeal paradigm from analog to digital. The process has directly generated more than $250MM for causes and their beneficiaries since. Much of the giving has come from first time donors to client organizations, and Text-to-Pledge’s true bottom line impact for orgs is in the billions.

In the wake of unprecedented challenges posed by the shift to remote operations, nonprofits faced the daunting task of maintaining fundraising efforts amidst uncertainty. This spurred Sophist to innovate the Text-to-Pledge® (TTP) hybrid model, a groundbreaking solution that seamlessly transitioned traditional onsite services to remote deployments. Leveraging proprietary, cutting-edge technology, Sophist reshaped TTP to be deliverable from anywhere to anywhere, allowing nonprofits to transcend geographical barriers and connect with donors on a global scale. Average gift sizes and average participation rates have both improved as a result of the modifications made during Covid. This shift not only underscored the resilience of the fundraising community but also highlighted Sophist's thought leadership during times of adversity.  

Upon returning to the ballroom post-pandemic, we saw an opportunity to increase stage management of the live appeal for organizations who still preferred an onsite presence. Thus, the Text-to-Pledge presenter role was born. By placing a certified TTP presenter on stage, production value increased and ultimately overall engagement rates spiked. This deliberate approach is not merely about delivering a message but about using proprietary best practices in order to orchestrate an experience compelling donors to act.

At the recent Fresh Air Fund Silver & Gold Soirée, our innovative approach yielded remarkable results, with a staggering 35% donor participation rate, dramatically above the national average. This achievement serves as a strong case study. Further leveraging Text-to-Pledge via the presenter role unlocked a unique opportunity to amplify fundraising initiatives while fostering enduring connections with supporters. The experience of leading the appeal at the Fresh Air Fund gala reinforced the importance of authenticity and storytelling in driving engagement and donations. 

As the first ever certified Text-to-Pledge presenter, I personally experienced the privilege of being the conduit through which donors can truly connect with the cause, leading to greater support and participation.

Reflecting on the monumental growth of TTP adoption in 2023, where the average participation rate exceeded 20% and the average pledge soared above $1000, fills me with optimism for near limitless scale. As we continue to harness the power of innovation and storytelling, the future of fundraising is brimming with possibilities. Through our collaborative endeavors, we can lay the groundwork for a world where philanthropy knows no bounds.

Emerging from the Text-to-Pledge landscape, the annual Non-Profits Night Out™ (NPNO) gala in New York City brings together the industry's most notable nonprofits and event vendors to drive business and donations. Far from being merely an evening of celebration, NPNO is a gathering that honors fundraising event professionals, nonprofit leadership, major donors, and their collective impact on the philanthropy sector. NPNO attendees collectively steer upwards of $1 Billion in social impact dollars each year, all of which benefit the local community. The vibrant environment fosters the exchange of new ideas, strengthens relationships, and facilitates the creation of new charitable opportunities, with generous sponsors underwriting the entire event.

As we continue to innovate and adapt, Sophist remains committed to shaping the future of philanthropy. Our collective efforts pave the way for a world where generosity breaks down barriers, where technology and storytelling converge to create lasting impact. Together, we can build a brighter future for all, fueled by the power of innovation, collaboration, and compassion.

David J. Mack IV is a Charleston, South Carolina native and holds a degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University. While navigating his science studies, he found a parallel passion in public relations, communication, and nonprofit endeavors. During his time at Emory, David immersed himself in volunteer work at Egleston Children’s Hospital and other charitable organizations, gaining firsthand experience in fundraising and nonprofit management.

Post-graduation, a fortuitous reunion with college classmate Reed Baker, a Philosophy graduate, sparked a collaborative venture. David appreciated Reed’s direction, vision and understanding of Philosophy which led to the creation of a special event production company called Sophist.  Through Sophist, David championed numerous nonprofits in New York and the Tri-State area, introducing innovative initiatives like Text-to-Pledge®, the FIRST onscreen text messaging functionality in the nonprofit special events space.  Text-to-Pledge has since raised over $250 Million directly while originating billions of dollars in charitable donations via a multitude of donor engagement strategies.

David continues to embody the spirit of Charleston and his upbringing by promoting creativity, dedication, and commitment to positive change through philanthropy. Additionally, he is the first ever certified Text-to-Pledge presenter as well as an ordained minister.

To learn more about Text-to-Pledge® and how to include David Mack in your fundraising efforts, reach out to

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