Mobile fundraising is the raising of money for a nonprofit or faith-based organization that involves donors giving through their mobile devices. These mobile devices can be smartphones or tablets, and the whole point of mobile fundraising is that it makes giving easy, quick, and accessible from anywhere.
Why is Mobile Fundraising Useful?
Because it’s such an accessible means of raising money, nonprofits can solicit donors anytime, anywhere. No longer are there the restrictions of a physical address for direct mail (or even having a computer to check fundraising emails). The whole world of fundraising is now in the palms of your donors’ hands.
How Do Most Nonprofits Use Mobile Fundraising?
Mobile fundraising can be used in several ways. Most commonly, nonprofits use mobile to raise money for specific projects. But they also often leverage their existing donor bases to expand their networks through peer-to-peer fundraising. Some nonprofits use mobile fundraising technology to gather more information about their donors and their donors’ habits. In any case, it’s an incredibly useful fundraising tool.
Part One: The Basics
- Mobile Fundraising 101
- Why Mobile Giving Is so Popular
- What is Text-to-Give
- Mobile Giving Statistics
- What Types of Organizations Use It?
Part Two: Ready, Set, Go Mobile!
- Common Myths--BUSTED
- How to Choose the Best App
- Optimize Your Mobile Emails
- How to Get Started With Mobile
- Increase Your Donor Retention Now
- Enhance Your Advocacy Campaigns
Part One: The Basics
If you’re interested in learning all about mobile fundraising, text-to-give technology, and what they can do for your organization, look no further. In this section, we’ll discuss the definitions of common terms, learn a few best practices, and figure out why mobile giving is a trend that’s not going away anytime soon!
At the most basic level, all mobile fundraising really is is a way for nonprofits to raise money using mobile devices.
There are several different avenues within mobile fundraising that nonprofits can choose to take.
They include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- QR code promotions.
- Text-to-give technology.
- Mobile email fundraising.
- Mobile-responsive donation pages.
- Mobile websites that feature donation buttons.
Common terms, defined:
What is a QR code?
A QR code is a Quick Response code that can be scanned by a smartphone. When scanned, it takes the user straight to whatever website has been programmed into it. They’re useful for promoting donation pages and can be placed anywhere: on flyers, posters, and more.
What is text-to-give technology?
Text-to-give is a way for donors to give to their favorite nonprofit by texting the amount they’d like to give and confirming payment through their mobile email.
What does mobile-responsive mean?
Mobile-responsiveness is a website’s ability to change and adapt based on the kind of device it’s being displayed on. In other words, if it’s being loaded on a phone, it must load quickly and be easy to read on a small screen. Buttons and links must respond well also.
For a more total picture of the basics of mobile fundraising, click here.
Mobile fundraising in all of its forms is one of the most popular ways for people of any age to give.
And it’s only gaining in popularity.
But what exactly makes it so appealing?
For starters, mobile giving is one of the easiest ways for donors to show their support for organizations on the go.
In addition to being unbelievably easy, mobile fundraising is:
- Safe and secure for both donors and organizations.
- Keeping up with the state of today’s tech-crazy world.
- Full of choices and possibilities.
- Popular among millennials.
- A fan-favorite of churches across the nation.
- Already changing the world for the better.
- Easy to incorporate into your existing fundraising efforts.
For more on each of these points (and more!), check out a full article about Why Mobile Giving Is a Trend That's Here to Stay.
Text-to-give technology, also known as text-to-donate technology, allows donors to give through text.
A donor will text a nonprofit’s text-to-give phone number with the amount they’d like to give. It can be any amount, $1 and up, and the nonprofit’s phone number will automatically text back telling the donor to check their email.
If they’ve given before, all they have to do is hit “Confirm” in their mobile email.
If, however, they’ve never given before, they will be sent a link that will take them to a payment information form.
Once they’ve filled that form out, they will be able to give in just two clicks (one to text and one to confirm) forever after.
If you’re interested in what text-to-give looks like for both donors and for nonprofits, click here to read all about it.
Did you know that in the past year the percentage of smartphone owners making mobile payments grew by 36%?
Mobile donations have also risen a whopping 205% since last year.
And you might not have been aware that over a quarter of people find nonprofits’ websites directly through their mobile phones.
Not only that, but also over 50% of people who happen upon a nonprofit’s site through social media on their phone will take action immediately afterward. They donate, sign up to volunteer, and more!
Speaking of social media, did you know that emails with social sharing options increase click-through rates by 158%?
The point of all of these statistics is to show you that mobile giving is on the up-and-up.
There are clear, concrete ways to optimize the way you use mobile fundraising to enhance your existing efforts.
To read every statistic out there on the subject of mobile giving, mobile pledging, text-to-give, and more, simply click here to read about mobile fundraising statistics.
You might be curious about the kinds of nonprofits and other organizations that have already hopped on the mobile-giving train.
You’re in luck, friend!
We’ve surveyed all of the major nonprofits and have come up with a comprehensive list of all of the types of organizations that use mobile to boost their fundraising:
- Health and wellness nonprofits use mobile fundraising to raise awareness and help treat those in need.
- Churches and other faith-based organizations use text-to-give to raise money on a weekly basis. Thousands upon thousands text-to-tithe on Sunday morning.
- Animal rights nonprofits make use of mobile at live fundraising events (and beyond).
- Disaster response and relief organizations are the first to react with text-to-give when disaster strikes and funds are needed quickly.
- Political organizations make the most out of mobile fundraising by exploring every avenue, from text-to-give to mobile email buttons, and more.
- Teachers and educational advocacy groups alike use mobile crowdfunding to change the world, one student at a time.
- Arts, culture, and humanities charities fund their efforts through mobile pledges and mobile-responsive donation pages.
As you can see, there’s not a single kind of organization (nonprofit or otherwise) that can’t benefit from mobile giving.
Whether you’re in the business of advocacy, or you’re a local politician hoping to make a difference, you can make mobile fundraising work for you.
To learn more about all of the different ways that organizations use mobile fundraising to further their causes, here are a couple examples:
- Enviromental organizations can use mobile fundraising in conjunction with crowdfunding to raise money when natural disasters strike. This allows individuals, nonprofits, and donors to act quickly to raise money for an emergency quickly and efficiently. See a recent example of this type of fundraising in action in California.
- Political organizations can use mobile fundraising to engage their donors on the go to raise awareness about a specific campaign or legislative action. A recent example of this includes when advocacy campaigns were used to sway congress on healthcare reform.
Part Two: Ready, Set, Go Mobile!
You’re well-versed in all of the basics, and you’re ready for that next step. You’ve maybe heard some rumors flying around about the high cost of text-to-give technology (rest assured, they’re untrue), or maybe you’re not quite sure how to get started.
Never fear, the second half of the guide is here to steer you in the right direction. If you read on, you’ll find information on how to optimize your mobile emails (to raise more money and awareness than ever before) as well as actionable advice for how to pick the right mobile fundraising software.
There are more than a few rumors flying around about the costs of text-to-give.
There are myths about:
- The time it costs your organization to receive funds,
- The money it costs to process donations,
- And the amount it costs to purchase a “shortcode.”
Not only that, but there are also those who would say that all text-to-give platform providers put a cap on individual donation amounts.
Want to know the truth?
With next-generation text-to-give providers, your organization will see donations almost immediately. There’s no more 90-day wait and no more being held up at the mercy of the cell phone companies.
Thanks to some payment processing wizardry (okay, really it’s just bypassing the middleman), your nonprofit no longer has to miss out on up to 50% of donations through processing fees.
Traditional text-to-give providers, i.e. the cell phone companies in conjunction with organizations like the Mobile Giving Foundation, would shave off 20%-50% of each donation. Next-generation providers don’t do this.
So the money you raise is the money you keep.
Your nonprofit also doesn’t need to purchase a shortcode. Next-generation providers allow you to purchase a unique phone number that your donors can text whenever, from wherever. No need for silly keywords, either! A simple donation amount in the text will do.
Finally, there’s an extra pervasive myth that there are donation caps with every text-to-give provider. The truth is: next-generation platform providers let donors give as much (or as little) as they’d like.
If a donor wants to give $500, they can simply text “500” to your organization’s number, hit “Confirm” in their mobile email inbox, and that $500 goes straight to your organization’s account.
How simple is that?
For more on each of these myths (plus some bonuses), check out 5 Myths About the Cost of Text-to-Give Campaigns.
Have you ever been grocery shopping and noticed just how many options for spaghetti sauce there are? There must be at least a hundred!
Choice can seem daunting, especially when it seems like there are endless options and few ways to discern which is the absolute best.
While we can’t help you figure out which pasta sauce would be ideal for your Monday night dinner, we can give you some guidance when it comes to picking the ultimate mobile giving app for your nonprofit or faith-based organization.The first five questions you’ll need to ask yourself are:
- What exactly are you looking for in a mobile giving app?
- What would be the easiest app for your donors to adopt?
- Would you consider offering more than one way to give?
- What would the monetary cost be? What about the cost in time?
- How would your organization need to shift to incorporate the new technology?
To read all about the final five questions you need to consider, click here.
Once you have a better idea of what you want out of a text-to-give tool, you'll be closer to determining the best option for your organization.
There are, however, a few capabilities you should look for regardless of your specific fundraising needs.
The features you should always look for include:
- Security. Making sure your donors' payment information is secure should be one of your nonprofit's top priorities. Therefore, you should choose a provider that is PCI-compliant, which means that they adhere to a strict set of guidelines created by the Payment Card Industry.
- Ease of use. Text-to-give should not only be easy for your donors but also your nonprofit. Look for a provider that limits the number of steps it takes to reach the confirmation and is backed by a responsive support team.
- Customizable forms. Since donors still have to access a donation form to complete the process, choose a provider that lets you customize your mobile forms. You don't want donors questioning the ownership of your forms.
- Nonprofit CRM integration. Having a simple way to track data gained from text giving and being able to transfer that information to your CRM is vital to improve your fundraising strategies the stewardship process.
With these features, you can ensure that your mobile giving method is optimized to enhance your fundraising efforts.
You already have a stellar donation page, but for some reason, you’re not seeing an increase in donations when you send out emails that have links to that page.
Don’t worry; it’s not you that’s the problem. It’s email.
While email is a convenient medium (and 245 times cheaper than direct mail), it’s also somewhat problematic for fundraising.
Why is that?
In order for a donor to give to your organization when you send them an email, they have to click out of that email and load a separate browser (on their phone, which, we all know, can be a huge pain).
Then, they have to fill out a donation form with dozens of tiny boxes, and they have to pull out their credit card every time.
It’s just a hassle! No wonder the majority of all online and mobile shopping carts are abandoned by that final step.
By incorporating one, small improvement to your fundraising emails, you can bypass all of this nonsense and see a significant increase in your email marketing profits.
2-click enabled email buttons can take your fundraising to the next level and beyond.
Much like next-generation text-to-give technology, email buttons allow donors to give with just two clicks. One to select an amount and the other to hit “Confirm.”
Learn everything there is to know about how email buttons can help your organization flourish this year by checking out this article on How to Raise Significantly More Money from Your Existing Email Marketing Campaign.
Now that you feel that you have a well-rounded education on all things mobile fundraising, it’s time to learn how to get started, step-by-step.
First things first, you’ll want to assess where you are right now.
Are you ready for mobile? Are you prepared to incorporate mobile fundraising into your existing plans?
Once you’ve figured out how you’ll integrate text-to-give, QR codes, or mobile crowdfunding pages into your overall fundraising strategy, it’s important to update your donor info.
With accurate donor info in your toolkit, it’s time to choose your champions. Your champions are the ones who will give you their honest opinions about your mobile fundraising campaign ideas.
They’ll steer you in the right direction and help you choose the perfect strategies.
After you’ve consulted your key influencers, it’s time to start thinking about setting realistic goals.
Mobile fundraising isn’t miraculous, but with the right amount of work, you can soar to new heights.
Make sure you gauge your capabilities accurately.
Now that you’ve set your goals at a reasonable level, you’re ready to get the word out there about your revolutionary mobile giving campaign!
The final step in getting started is to track, analyze, and improve. You should make sure that you’re keeping track of all the right fundraising metrics.
There is always room for improvement, and with mobile fundraising, the sky's the limit.
If you’re still wanting a bit more guidance on each of these steps, be sure to check out the step-by-step guide to getting started with mobile fundraising.
This past year, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project Survey Report found that only 19% of first-time donors ever gave again.
But, donors who gave a second time were three times more likely to give again thereafter.
It turns out that second donation is golden, so to speak.
If you can get your organization’s donors to give more than once, more than 60% of them will give again. How amazing is that?
The issue at hand is: how do you secure that golden donation?
We’ve got some easy, actionable steps for you to take right here, right now:
- Step 1: Have a first-time donor communications strategy.
- Step 2: Remember to thank them (more than once!).
- Step 3: Use social media to keep your organization front-of-mind.
- Step 4: Ask for donations that go beyond money (time, in-kind, etc.).
- Step 5: Always deliver on your promises to prove you’re trustworthy.
- Step 6: Ask for it!
One of the biggest mistakes that nonprofits make when they’re seeking recurring donations is not asking. They believe that the ask is implied. But it’s not.
If you want a second donation, ask for it!
Of course, good stewardship goes a long way, too.
With mobile fundraising, you can achieve all of these feats on the go.
Interested in more insider tips for increasing your donor retention rate using mobile? Click here!
If you're in the business of advocacy, chances are you're a passionate individual. You think globally and act locally. You care about having your voice and the voices of those you advocate for heard above the fray.
Whether you're lobbying, litigating, educating, or organizing for your cause, there's one common factor that all groups have to consider: funding.
There are any number of ways to raise money for your advocacy campaign. In this day and age, when smartphones and tablets are more numerous than headlights on the highway, mobile fundraising is one of the best ways to raise money from donors on the go.
Within mobile fundraising, your advocacy group can launch:
- A mobile email fundraiser.
- A QR code promotion.
- A text-to-give campaign.
- And so many more!
With all of that in mind, read this step-by-step guide on how to incorporate mobile fundraising into your advocacy campaign.
Step #1. Set Goals
The first step in incorporating mobile fundraising into your advocacy campaign is to take a step back.
Assess where your advocacy campaign is and where you want it to be in six months.
How do you get started assessing your advocacy campaign? As with any other type of campaign, you need to keep track of your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).
Once you’ve assessed where you are and where you want to be, the next step is to create a realistic timeline that encompasses all of your fundraising growth goals along the way.
One of the hardest things for nonprofits and advocacy groups is figuring out who’s willing to donate. But as they say, past giving is the greatest indicator of future giving.
There are several ways to figure out who’s willing to donate. Your group can:
- Send out a survey.
- Gather together a focus group.
- Use a charitable giving database.
- Consult your CRM.
- Ask key influencers their opinions.
- Research statistics.
- Look at relevant case studies.
Regardless of how you figure out who’s willing to give via mobile, it’s an important factor to keep in mind in order to be able to set attainable goals for your advocacy group.
Above all else, your organization needs to create a manageable timeline and brainstorm goals that you know to be within reach.
It’s better to set realistic goals and be surprised when you surpass them, which you definitely could!
Mobile fundraising is not miraculous. It’s just a newer alternative that advocacy campaigns find useful.
When it comes to figuring out the most effective and efficient means for contacting potential donors and advocates, there are a lot of really wonderful options to consider.
Email is one of the most cost-effective and time-saving means of communicating with your donor base.
If you’re thinking about incorporating mobile email fundraising into your overall strategy, remember that with mobile, keeping your communications platforms mobile-responsive is key.
There’s nothing worse than opening an email on your phone only to find that it doesn’t quite translate. It’s like unwrapping a large present only to discover that it’s mostly bubble wrap.
Don’t let that happen to your advocates. Be sure that your email content is:
- Branded. Be clear who you are and what you’re about upfront.
- Concise. Overly wordy emails rarely get read.
- Platform-specific. Make sure your email loads as well on a phone as it does on a computer.
If your emails are specific, clear, and have easy-to-discover calls to action, they can inspire a major spike in donation and advocacy responses in no time at all.
Now that you’ve made sure that your efforts are targeted, it’s just as important to make them timely. There are wrong times to send an email (for instance, 4 AM on a Wednesday).
On the flip side of the coin: there are perfect times to send out your appeals.
Use email analytics to discover the most active times for your advocates. If you notice a trend, make sure you follow up and start sending out your most important emails at those times.
We have all, at one point or another, tacked a flyer up on a bulletin board or telephone pole.
But in the modern age, with all of this ubiquitous technology, does creating physical flyers really make sense anymore? The short answer is obviously no.
That’s not to say, though, that flyers in all their forms have gone completely by the wayside. Integrated marketing techniques utilize the same sorts of tactics that have always been around:
- Using imagery. A picture is worth 1,000 words is a cliché for a reason.
- Telling a story. People feel the deepest connections with causes that have familiar stories attached.
- Supporting points with statistics. The stronger you can make your case, the better. Concrete numbers always help.
All of these tactics that were once found on paper can now be translated into digital format, to be distributed an infinite number of times in an infinite number of places. Plus, you can make your flyers interactive now!
When you’re crafting the perfect virtual flyer, make sure that it loads well and looks nice on both mobile devices and desktop computers. You never know where it might pop up!
As we mentioned before, email is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to get in touch with your advocates.
That being said, there’s more to a great email campaign than just on-point branding and catchy headlines.
There needs to be a clear call to action.
Calls to action include, but aren’t limited to:
- Sign this online petition
- Call your congressman
- Donate now
- And more!
Once an advocate opens your email, you want to provide them the opportunity to engage with your organization as readily as they’re learning about your latest updates.
You’ll want to give them the chance to sign your online petition.
If it’s not signing your online petition, it’s prompting them to call their congressman.
You can also encourage them to donate $5 to your cause. Some technologies, like @Pay, will let donors give directly.
When all is said and done, you need to give your advocates concrete steps to take in your emails. The more obvious, the better.
Online petitions are the bread-and-butter of advocacy campaigns.
It’s hard to argue that petitions have become much more streamlined and wide-reaching since the internet arrived on the scene.
Before, when you had to go door-to-door or host a rally to amass a fair number of signatures on a petition, effective petitions were few and far between.
Now, with online petitions, thousands of people can sign from anywhere and everywhere.
Take that one step further with mobile.
With a mobile-responsive online petition, your organization can reach so many more advocates (and potential donors) on the move.
Of course, not everything has to be a donation appeal. Some things are reserved solely for awareness and litigative purposes. That doesn’t have to change.
You can take a page out of the mobile fundraising bible, though, and make sure that your online petitions are mobile-ready, mobile-friendly, and most of all--mobile-responsive.
As far as modern advancements go, social media has been one of the most revolutionary facets of technology. It’s brought millions of people together over shared interests that might never have been revealed otherwise.
Advocacy has seen a significant increase over the past few years thanks to the advent of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Even though virtual likes and retweets may feel somewhat insignificant, they really aren’t.
Studies show that social media advocacy translates directly into real world advocacy.
By tapping into the raw power that is social media, and particularly social media on mobile devices, advocacy groups can incite real change.
When you’re crafting your mobile fundraising component of your advocacy campaign, don’t discount the major media players. Learn the ins and outs of each specific platform and use that knowledge to your advantage:
- For a Twitter campaign, it’s important to realize that shorter, more straightforward content will perform better.
In this example, the tweeter has kept the word count incredibly low while still getting the point across.
- With Facebook, it’s been proven that people respond to images that are attached to a message far more than they engage with content that’s solely word-based.
In this case, the poster has made sure to emphasize the picture while still providing adequate information. The call-to-action is obvious, but the picture of the kitten is the largest and most prominent piece of the post.
- With Instagram and other visual social media sites (Vine, Snapchat, Periscope, etc.) making sure that you’re creating the most visually arresting content around is sure to incite your followers to get more involved. Images that tell a story and have concrete steps associated with them tend to have a greater impact.
Just like with the Facebook post, the focus is really on the image. The message is still clear, and the link to the donation page is right underneath the picture.
A lot like social media, text-to-give technology can be overlooked by advocacy groups. But the possibilities for growth using these simple tools are endless.
Text-to-give technology is kind of a one-way communication avenue. Here's how it works:
- Donors text a donation amount or short code to your nonprofit's number. Depending on the type of tool you have, donors may have the ability to text the donation amount straight to your organization. Alternatively, your organization may have a pre-selected keyword (or shortcode) that donors have to text.
- Donors are directed to a mobile donation form. Your supporters will instantly receive a response text message with a link to a mobile donation page where they can complete their gift.
- Donors confirm their gifts. Once they've entered their personal and credit card information, the only thing left for your donors to do is press the "Donate Now" button. Donors may receive another text from your organization thanking them for their gifts.
As you can see the donation tool doesn't allow you to send out mass text messages to advocates other than the automated messages that donors receive once they initiate the giving process.
But if you can’t use texting to fully communicate with your nonprofit’s advocates, how is text-to-give technology relevant for an advocacy campaign?
The simple truth is: so many of your group’s members are on the go 24/7. Because over 90% of adults in the US own smartphones these days, it means that texting is a powerful tool, and chances are the vast majority of your constituents are familiar with its uses.
Take advantage of the popularity of texting by advertising your advocacy campaign’s text-to-give component.
You can let potential donors know that they can give via mobile device through your existing advocacy materials, such as:
- Social media blasts
- And more!
Using a text-to-give tool means that you can encourage your advocates to give at live events when they're feeling the most generous. Have one of your speakers ask guests to give via text message and show supporters how to use your giving tool. Having a way for supporters to give in the moment means that you can earn even more donations for your cause.
Allowing your supporters to donate to your cause from wherever and whenever will undoubtedly boost your advocacy campaign.
Creating an online culture of advocacy takes a few steps, but one of the most important ways to maintain a network of active supporters and donors is to make sure they know they’re appreciated.
The best part about mobile fundraising is its ability to maintain a steady flow of communication. Take advantage of this immediacy by sending out instantaneous, personalized thank you emails each time someone donates to your cause or signs an online petition.
You can also give your donors the option to share their donation experiences on social media. With mobile-responsive donation pages, you can reach more people than ever before, and those people can show all of their friends and family at a moment’s notice.
Those friends and family then have the potential to become donors and supporters, too.
If you obey all the principles of Step #3, and you keep your sharing option branded, image-focused, and facts-based, you’ll have a highly shareable piece of content--embedded within a way to show your existing donors gratitude!
Let’s be honest: everyone loves the chance to brag about themselves.
Give your donors the chance to brag about their contribution every time you thank them for donating.
There you have it! The eight easy-to-follow steps for your organization to incorporate mobile fundraising into your advocacy campaigns. With all of these steps under your belt, you’re ready to start raising more money on the move for your cause.
How has your organization managed to incorporate these steps into your advocacy campaigns? Do you have any other steps you’d suggest? What works best for your nonprofit?