The following is an excerpt from WealthEngine Institute’s recently published workbook, The Data-Driven Annual Fund – Part 2: Solicitation and Stewardship.


As part of your multi-channel approach, it’s important to consider mobile. One in three Americans use mobile as their primary means to access the internet, and mobile has almost 100% penetration in the U.S. with over 280 million subscribers. We spoke with Jenifer Snyder, executive director of The mGive Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that assists nonprofits in their text donation campaigns, about mobile strategy. “Mobile strategy is interfacing with your donors through their preferred device – by their head, in their hand, as their alarm clock,” Snyder explains. She describes the three avenues to explore when planning mobile strategy.

Mobile Application

Mobile apps are useful for organizations that have rich content they want to drive prospects and donors to, including videos and photographs. “You want your constituents and prospective donors to have an interactive experience with you and create a personal connection between your organization and the device holder,” says Snyder. Mobile apps work well for quick, interactive polls and quizzes, and other compelling content. Keep in mind, though, that 81% of all mobile apps are only used once after downloading, so be sure that a mobile app is the best way for your organization to keep supporters engaged. You may not get another chance.

Mobile apps can be created in-house or be outsourced. When thinking about your options consider cost and resources. “Apps can create a very visually appealing experience with a very personal interaction, but they can be expensive and require regular maintenance,” says Snyder. Because they require a big initial investment as well as ongoing development, be sure you have the resources available to keep it updated. Keeping your content and technology updated and fresh is imperative.

Responsive Web Site

“We live in a multi-screen world,” says Snyder, referring to the proliferation of smart phones, tablets, netbooks and crossover products currently on the market and under development. In order to ensure a great user experience, every time, it’s important for your organization to have a responsive website, meaning it has been optimized for viewing on any mobile device or tablet. Does a high percentage of traffic to your site come from mobile? If so, it’s even more important that you have a responsive web site. A site not optimized for mobile can contribute to a poor user experience, and actually turn off potential supporters.

“Some organizations create mobile pages that are too stripped down,” warns Snyder. “To make sure each user has the experience they need, give users the option to visit the full web site or view the mobile version.” If you reduce or minimize the amount of content on your mobile site, be sure and provide enough information on your homepage to engage visitors and encourage them to further explore your site. Remember, the more user friendly your mobile site is, the higher the conversion rate will be. “You also need to be sure that email formats with your mobile strategies. The majority of email today is read on a mobile device.”

SMS (short message service) or Text

Sending text messages is a very efficient and immediate way to communicate with your constituents. It’s also a convenient way for donors to give. Text messages have an incredibly high open rate of 97-99%, according to Snyder, and 85% of those opened are read within 15 minutes. When sending a direct mail piece, 1% of those on your list will make a donation whereas 4% of those receiving a text-to-donate call to action make a donation.

“Offer text messages as an option when asking donors what their preferred method of receiving communications from your organization is,” advises Snyder. Surprisingly, text isn’t just being used by the young. In fact, Snyder cites research showing that text is a highly used communication channel among all early adopters, regardless of age cohort. Snyder provides a number of opportunities to use text effectively in a mobile strategy:

  • In a recent campaign, mGive helped a client target a list of lapsed constituents with a targeted email about joining a mobile community. These lapsed donors had not responded to any other channel in 3-5 years, but when sent a mobile optimized email asking them to opt-in to text, a large proportion were converted.
  • Increase email open rates by sending out a text letting everyone know your newsletter is out and they should check out a particular story or article in it.
  • Text constituents about a newly published study.
  • Use text for program-related compliance, for instance reminding someone that it’s time to renew their CPR training or take their insulin.
  • Use text messaging when communicating with volunteers around an event. Send a text reminder with the time they should show up.
  • Maybe you’re hosting a marathon and a child is separated from her parents. Text your volunteers with a description of the child so they can be on the lookout.
  • Use text in conjunction with cause marketing campaigns to leverage supporters for corporate or retail sponsors. Text can be used effectively to increase foot traffic at a sponsor’s retail location, for instance.

Text has also proven valuable in converting one-time donors to monthly donors. If someone gives $10, you may ask them to commit to a monthly $10 gift, and ensure they follow through by providing a monthly text reminder.

Your organization may not be ready for a mobile app, but you must have a mobile strategy. With the increasing use of mobile technology, this is one channel that will continue to grow.

Download the 2013 mGive Text Donation Study for more information on mobile giving.


About The mGive Foundation

The mGive Foundation (http://www.mGive.org) is a 501(c)(3) established to make it easy for nonprofits to quickly execute effective text donation campaigns – and for mobile operators to support them. The mGive Foundation has partnered with more than 60 of the nation’s leading mobile carriers (covering 99% of U.S. mobile customers) to enable qualified nonprofits to increase overall donations and reach new audiences using affordable, reliable and regulation-compliant mobile donation campaigns. The mGive Foundation has supported more than 10,000 text donation campaigns for more than 500 nonprofit partners and processes around 85 percent of all text donations made today. We have worked with our charity partners to raise almost $70 million through text message donations.

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