Twilio

 

Twilio’s “Messaging” allows you to send and receive messages at scale with Messaging APIs. Which makes it the perfect integration to send SMS messages from within MinistryPlatform directly to your congregation! With a one-time configuration, you will be good to go.

Their pricing is based on your usage, with additional discounts for committed usage as you scale.

Integration Setup

A SPoC must complete one-time initial setup with Twilio in order to send text messages through MinistryPlatform, Check In Suite, and/or MobileTools. 

Note: We encourage churches to use Twilio's toll free numbers as they are going to be the most reliably received by cell phone carriers.
  1. Setup a Twilio account for SMS (You can use any Twilio number, be we recommend moving to a 1-800 number for faster sending ;)
    1. Create a Twilio account
    2. In Products > Programmable SMS, get a Twilio phone number (see note above)
    3. Create New Project
    4. Name project
    5. Verify email
    6. Verify phone number
    7. Get a trial number
    8. Click the "Search for a different number" link to find a phone number in your area code
    9. Enter the desired area code
    10. Choose a number
    11. Click Buy
    12. Repeat this process to purchase multiple Twilio phone numbers
  2. Be sure to activate any phone numbers associated with your account by clicking the Upgrade Project button. Text messages will not be sent from MinistryPlatform until your number is active.
  3. To continue the setup process for the:
    1. New Message Tool, see Texting.
    2. Text Messaging Tool, see Text Messaging Tool.
    3. Classroom Manager, see Classroom Manager - Participant Details.

Cost

There is no cost to set up this integration.

Fees from Twilio will be assessed as per each church's individual contract agreement. Be sure to ask about Twilio's not-for-profit pricing!

Troubleshooting

If after following the steps above, you are not receiving texts sent by the tool, first, double check each of the steps and values above to ensure no details were missed. If you're still not receiving texts (and the tool is not giving an error or warning), this indicates an issue with your Twilio account. See these troubleshooting articles - basic and advanced - from Twilio.

Carriers may automatically block messages that are not in compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines. Be aware of your content, especially if it contains a link to be clicked. Avoid wording like "Click this link" and bit.ly links. Ensure your message has proper headers and footers such as instructions for opting out. For more information on the TCPA, these articles may be helpful: TCPA Compliance and Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991

Sending links in your text message will likely get your text message filtered and blocked.

Tips & Tricks

Do I need more than one Twilio number?

The New Message Tool supports the use of multiple Twilio numbers. Have as many numbers as your church needs! A benefit of having multiple numbers is that it allows you to spread your text volume over multiple numbers which improves the speed and deliverability of your text messages.

The Text Messaging Tool supports use of one Twilio number.

It is recommended that the number used with these tools be different from other numbers used with 3rd party applications (e.g. Online Giving's text-to-give). As such, if you already have a Twilio account in use by a 3rd party, you may need to purchase additional numbers to use with these tools. Please contact your 3rd party vendor for specific requirements.

Is there something I can do from my standpoint that would help process large quantities of text messages faster? 

Twilio throttles things, so getting a Short Code can help to speed up Twilio's processing time. Short codes have a 8-12 week provisioning time.

You can also try to get a Twilio toll free number to speed things up by up to three times faster.  For more information from Twilio regarding processing time please visit their Sending and Receiving Limitations on Calls and SMS Messages article. Toll free numbers are available in 5-7 days. 

Long codes are turned off by Sprint if they see 200+ of the same message in one day.

Want to do something custom with responses sent to Twilio?

You can work with Twilio to update the auto-response sent to people who respond to texts sent via the Text Messaging Tool. Also, you can work with a third party to create a custom web service that could do something more custom such as forward the message onto another number or auto-respond based on various criteria. For more information from Twilio regarding auto-responses please visit their Set up an SMS Auto-Responder with Twilio Studio article. 

Is there non-for-profit pricing?

Yes! Twillio offers special non-for-profit pricing, it just has to be asked for!

See Also

CTIA's Updated 2019 Messaging Principles and Best Practices
Twilio Website