Is Your Nonprofit Ready For Mobile Giving?

For donations on demand – go where the money is! 

Donors may have many reasons for choosing to give "on the go" instead of via direct mail, in person, or at their computer.

Some of these reasons may include:

  • Can't locate the checkbook
  • Ran out of stamps
  • Never carry cash
  • Don't have a computer
  • Saw an appeal while waiting for their car at the repair shop and knew that if they didn't take action right that very minute, they would forget to do so once they got home. (Guilty.)

Whatever the reasons, more people than ever are choosing mobile giving. The majority of all donors now make their contributions online. (Fun fact: Just 4 years ago, only 29% of donors age 66+ participated in online giving. This year that figure more than doubled to nearly 60%.)

According to the Mobile Giving Foundation:

"The greatest attribute of mobile giving is its immediacy. Alerted to a need either through a message received on a mobile device or through an outside medium such as television or radio, mobile users can quickly and easily respond. No need to write a check, fill out a form or call someone—just send a text message in reply and the giving or participation cycle is complete."

Meanwhile, according to the latest Pew Research study, as of this year:

  • 90% of American adults have a cell phone
  • 58% of American adults have a smartphone
  • 32% of American adults own an e-reader
  • 42% of American adults own a tablet computer

So what does this mean for your nonprofit? The time to adopt mobile giving tools is NOW.

One of the more popular methods of giving is via SMS, especially during natural disasters. This is usually done by texting a keyword to a designated short code. By doing so, the mobile user donates a predetermined amount to a nonprofit organization, which is then added to their monthly mobile service provider bill.

The most famous example to date is the 2010 campaign by the Red Cross to raise money to aid relief efforts after the Haiti earthquake, to the tune of over $32 million.

However, there are some concerns about the security of such methods, as well as the potential for cell phone service providers to surreptitiously charge fees or take a cut of the donations in order to pay administrative costs of the transactions.

In addition, the processing time between when a pledge is made and when the nonprofit organization actually receives the funds is much longer—as long as 120 days—when the transaction is conducted via SMS.

Another means by which charitable mobile users can give money is through mobile-optimized online donation pages. Studies have shown that custom-branded give now pages generate 6 times* more donations than third-party giving pages that use platforms whose branding, design, and messaging is inconsistent with that of the nonprofit organization.

Remember: online donation pages will not and should not replace your entire arsenal of fundraising tools. The trick is to use your time and resources more wisely in order to get the best bang for your nonprofit buck.

A good tip is to continually reexamine the ROI of your fundraising strategies. Ask yourself how many new donors are reached per marketing dollar spent in each channel and how many dollars are collected for every dollar spent. The idea is to use the kind of criteria that CharityWatch uses to rate and improve nonprofit accountability and effectiveness.

Another important point to keep in mind is that your potential constituents will not immediately flock to your mobile online donation page just because it's there. Consider implementing a strategy to let your donors know that they can give easily, quickly, and securely on your mobile website.

This may include adding a link to your mobile online donation page in your quarterly newsletter, sending out periodic reminder tweets to all of your followers, or even putting a QR code with a link to your donation page on all of your direct mail and/or print advertising appeals. (And don't forget to follow up with your donors afterward to confirm receipt of their online donation.)

The goal is to have your online donation page become more than just an afterthought. By making your online donation page or portal the cornerstone of your fundraising efforts, you will be able to provide the best possible experience for your donors while making the most of your campaign's effectiveness.

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