In this article you’ll find information about texting as an AFS-USA Volunteer, including who and when it is appropriate to text, safe messaging best practices, and sample text messaging you can use to promote AFS by audience.
Who may I text as an AFS-USA Volunteer?
As a registered, active AFS Volunteer you may text anyone who has opted in to texting in Global Link. This includes potential, former, and current host families, other volunteers, study abroad applicants (while they are still in the US), and returnees.
Model safe messaging, and if contacting a participant, always include other participants or volunteers in the conversation as recommended in these social media and texting guidelines.
If a current hosted student would prefer text over calling/emailing, please ask for their consent to text them, and as noted above, always include other participants or volunteers in the conversation. Being able to text a hosted student is helpful in case of an emergency, so entering their US phone number into Global Link/MyAFS is encouraged.
Note on Emergency Texting:
In the event of an emergency, volunteer leaders and/or AFS USA Staff may be asked to send a group text(s) to confirm the immediate safety and well-being of our volunteers, host families and participants in the impacted area. It is important to proactively communicate this expectation and explain that in the event of an emergency a host parent and/or student may be texted even if they have indicated to opt out of the text messaging option.
How do I know if someone has opted into texting?
If you want to send a one-to-one text message, you can check if your intended recipient has agreed to receive texts by finding them in Global Link via the person or service case search, and checking in their Personal/Basic Information Tab.
If they have opted into text messaging, you’ll see Text Message Opt In = Yes. If No is selected, or there is nothing selected, do not text them. Rather, you can send them an email or give them a call at the number provided and ask them if in the future they would be open to receiving texts. You can ask your Field Specialist to update the Text Message Opt In field in their service case if they agree.
Note that this is also where their mobile number is provided. If a mobile number is NOT provided, you can try the number that is available, but know this may indeed be a landline and the text may not go through. When you speak to them, try to obtain their correct mobile number and request that your Field Specialist update it in Global Link.
How can I see who from my team has opted into texting?
If you navigate to the person or service case search in Global Link, you can enter your search parameters and then add the filter: Text Message Opt in (Y/N) is Yes.
Example: I want to text all NH19 former host families in my team (Austin Area Team) about the opportunity to host a student next semester. Here are my search parameters, with the Text Message Opt in filter:
Note: Many who have opted into text messaging may still have assigned subscriber alerts, like no hosting solicitation. Please respect these subscriber alerts when sending text messages, as you would when sending an email or calling.
What, when, and how often is it appropriate to text?
The number one rule with texting is to make sure you have permission to send a text. While texting is a convenient way to communicate and promote AFS, don’t overuse text communications and make sure all texts are appropriate to your audience.
Be clear with your messaging. Make sure you are not putting too much, or too little, into your message. Be straightforward and include an action item. Include a link if appropriate.
Respect requests to no longer receive texts, and make sure that information is updated in Global Link.
Pay attention to frequency. No more than 2-3 texts per month for mass/group texts and no more than 1 text per day for one-to-one text messaging (unless it turns into a conversation where the recipient is actively returning messages).
Text during normal business hours. Keep in mind that you’ll want the recipient to take action upon receiving your text, which they are not apt to do late at night or early weekend mornings.
Text message examples:
Hi [First Name], I hope you are doing well! I just wanted to check in and see if you’d be interested in attending the [AFS Event] this Friday. Let me know and I’ll add you to the attendee list. Look forward to seeing you there!
Study Abroad/Volunteer Recruitment
This is [Your Name], an AFS Volunteer in the Austin Area Team. Thanks so much for hosting this year! Would you be interested in having a short conversation about other AFS-USA programs and opportunities?
Host Family Recruitment
Thank you for being an AFS Host Family with the Austin Area Team! Did you know we have a student from Bangladesh coming to our area this spring? Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about her!
Find country specific sample text messages in this Help & Learning article.
Questions about text messaging can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.