publication date: Nov 17, 2011
author/source: Doug Plank
Many have described
the value of mobile as well as the many disappointments since it was
successfully used to raise money for Haiti relief a few years ago. In the
initial call to action, concerned mobile users texted "HAITI" to a shortcode
and made a $5 or $10 donation through their individual mobile bills. Since the dollar amount was affordable, more
than five million people found donating fast, easy and painless.
most nonprofit professionals weren't aware that mobile was being tested for use
in text communication, polling, data gathering and raising funds. Given the
state of the economy and its impact on nonprofits, it is understandable that
most fundraisers first paid attention when they saw the $30 million plus that
was raised for Haiti through mobile phone activities.
Not as easy as Haiti made it look
this also raised the false hope that micro mobile donations would easily
replace the donation losses experienced during the down economy. But in the
rush to implement, we forgot some of the basic tenets and lessons learned from
the advent of online giving - that it takes a commitment to time, testing,
familiarization, strategy, and reinforcement with traditional communication.
successful partnerships with several nonprofits over the years, we've developed
our top tips for those curious about successfully incorporating their own mobile
building your mobile lists now. Use all your standard donor data collection
methods and include mobile numbers as one of your data fields. You'll have
access to the most effective, ubiquitous communication device being carried by
literally every current and prospective donor, board member and person you
serve. Open rates for text messaging of 95% or more should be incentive enough.
Compare those rates to the decreasing email open rate of 35%, and diminishing
direct mail rates of single digits.
a strong story for prospects to want to be on your lists, but that isn't any
different than needing a strong story to get your direct mail letters, email,
publications and event invitations opened and read. So don't make this too
complicated. Start somewhere, even with your most loyal donors, current staff
testing your constituency's receptivity to joining a mobile list and the types
of messaging that will appeal to them. Always keep in mind the importance of
testing the frequency and type of message your audience prefers. And remember:
such testing is incredibly easy and affordable via mobile.
messages are meaningful, you will develop mobile into a trusted and highly
responsive communication channel with supporters.
easy polling tools available to measure interest and gather opinions suggestions
from your mobile lists. Opening this new communication channel by seeking
advice and ideas is a great way to establish trust while refining your mobile
communication strategy. I've heard time and again how valuable this early step
is to developing a strong mobile strategy based on constituency feedback.
85% of new handsets are web-enabled. Texting isn't just 140 characters any
more. Add a link to a video of your nonprofit delivering services to those in
need, messages from staff in the field updating supporters, the CEO making a
specific call to action for volunteers, or a message expressing heartfelt
gratitude from those who benefit most from your donors' generosity.
The mobile nudge
are finding that sending a text message increases response rates to more
traditional communications. They've seen a valuable "lift" in response rates to
direct mail, email, event and volunteer invitations and telephone appeals for
year-end gifts when a text message was sent as a follow up to reinforce their original
message or appeal.
Micro mobile donations
works very well for securing micro donations of $5 and $10 via a simple, easily
understood "call to action" followed by a thank you and an invitation to join
your mobile list. Doing that will enable you to offer a tax receipt, which will
require donors to provide their names and physical or email addresses. Now you
have great data for continued cultivation and securing additional gifts from
your "text to give" donors.
Mobile donations aren't always micro
do not realize the advantages of text pledging: securing a donor commitment
that is fulfilled through a credit card. Many of our clients are using this
tool at special events. We have seen mobile pledges of $5,000 and $10,000 through
this means. Again, the data collected is great - name, address, email -
whatever you want to request, if the donor is willing to share.
If you knew
that 40% of your constituency were conducting most of their web browsing via
their mobile device, how differently would you approach your web presence? Do
you have a mobile-friendly website? Are you anticipating or responding to this
complicated but you need to think through your objectives for mobile. Keep in
mind that integration with your other communication channels is important.
- Your initial objective should be to build
a mobile list (regardless of size) that you can begin testing for
receptivity to message content and frequency.
- Poll your "test" list and get feedback on
their experience. Most participants think mobile polling is a great tool
and that you (the nonprofit) really care about their opinion. Also, it is
great fun and actually very easy to administer.
- Integrate texting to supplement and
support a call to action through email, direct mail or in person.
- Initiate a peer-to-peer mobile
- Create a story around your organization's
desire to go mobile, and seek feedback from your early adopters and those
affordable, it's effective, and it's flexible. Your competition is already
using or planning to use mobile soon. According to Mobile Commerce Daily
, 50% of nonprofits will use mobile in some
way by 2012.
only one. Don't wait!
Doug Plank is chairman/CEO and founder of MobileCause. During his 31 years of professional
leadership in cause-related and non-profit institutions, he has facilitated campaigns
totaling more than $500 million. He is a frequent speaker at nonprofit and
information, visit, www.mobilecause.com.