Mobile Fundraising 101: What Your Non‑Profit Needs to Know

…And how you can get started

Mobile fundraising is making it easier than ever for donors (especially younger donors) to discover and give to their favorite charities. How can your organization benefit from it and where do you begin?

Emerging technology isn’t just changing the way that business is done, it’s also changing the way that people expect to interact with organizations and each other. As organizations that rely on personal connections to mission, nonprofits must adapt in order to reach their audiences, and to more effectively drive donations.

Mobile technology, in particular, is disrupting how fundraising is done today. Nonprofit Hub recently featured a three-part series on the subject called “Mobile Fundraising: A Complete Overview.” Here’s our breakdown of what you need to know.

What is Mobile Fundraising?

Essentially, mobile fundraising is what it sounds like—raising money using a variety of tools and techniques native to mobile devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets). Here are the most common technologies you’ll come across, and what they mean.

Mobile Fundraising Glossary

  1. Mobile-responsive – technology that reformats content to look native on any size screen, including smartphones and tablets
  2. Mobile-friendly (mobile-first) webpages – sites designed specifically for mobile devices
  3. Text-to-give – sending donations through mobile by texting directly to an organization’s assigned phone number or shortcode
  4. Social media fundraising – raising money through social media sites like Facebook directly
  5. Peer-to-peer fundraising – giving existing donors the tools to fundraise on behalf of the organization (including crowdfunding ambassadors) (Check out our Peer-to-Peer article for explanations and suggestions)
  6. QR codes – matrix barcode that can be easily scanned on a smartphone and lead to any page or site on the web, such as a donation page, social media profile, crowdfunding campaign, etc.
  7. Two-factor authentication – system for verifying a donor’s identity using two sources (often a password and text message or email with confirmation code), minimizing fraud
  8. PCI compliance – ensures all organizations store and process credit card info safely and securely
  9. Tokenization – a credit card number becomes a “token” that only the intended merchant processor (Stripe, PayPal, etc.) can decipher, preventing unauthorized charges
  10. App-based fundraising – Using a custom app, or an existing app platform to promote your campaign, and collect payment.

Tip: Apps like Venmo and Cash (by Square) are very popular now for sending money from person-to-person, why not use them to collect donations? Square Cash will even let you create a brand hashtag (e.g. “$OurCause”) that’s easy to remember and use.

All of these approaches and technologies have one central thing in common: they can all be accessed and acted upon quickly from a mobile device. Whichever tools you’re using, it’s important to always be consistent (but not constant) when contacting a donor, using familiar branding and staying true to your story. On mobile, it’s particularly important to keep communications brief (but still relevant), since people are often on the go and/or viewing on smaller screens. And make the donation process as simple as possible, using as few steps as possible.

How Your Organization can Get Started with Mobile Fundraising

Nonprofit Hub breaks down mobile fundraising into six steps:

  1. Plan for integration – figure out how to integrate mobile into your existing fundraising strategy
  2. Update your site(s) – make sure your sites are mobile-friendly and/or mobile-responsive
  3. Set goals – set realistic and attainable goals for the campaign
  4. Choose a provider – select a mobile fundraising platform provider that fits your needs
  5. Launch your campaign – either roll your campaign out in stages or all at once
  6. Track and improve – Measure your results. Keep track of your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and adjust your strategy accordingly

Promoting Mobile Fundraising to Your Donors

Once you have your technology in place, how can you reach your donors?

Mobile fundraising can make ut easier for current and new donors alike to support your cause, but like every campaign, they can only take action if they know about it. It should not come as a surprise that social media is a great way to promote your mobile efforts while expanding your donor network.

  • With the growing popularity of live video, consider broadcasting a live stream on Facebook.
  • Schedule and send out Twitter announcements
  • Create a fun and personal YouTube video

Just because you’re focusing on mobile, it doesn’t mean you can’t use some more traditional methods, as well. Additionally, consider integrating it with your usual methods of publicity:

  • Announcing it at online or live events
  • Publishing an article (if your organization has a physical publication, include it there with a QR Code or simple URL)
  • Sending (mobile-responsive) informational emails to your donor list

Takeaways for Your Organization

Mobile fundraising is here to stay. When done well, it makes discovery and action much simpler for current and prospective donors. And the easier it is, the more likely they will take action. With the increasing prevalence of mobile tech, it may be the most effective approach—especially when it comes to reaching younger demographics. #GivingTuesday, for example, is an online-first initiative that has been growing every year.

Each of the methods for creating and promoting campaigns on mobile have their advantages and challenges, the best approach depends on what’s right for your organization. Some tactics will work better for you than others, which is why it’s important to monitor and test and modify implementation over time.

Read the full, three-part overview series on Nonprofit Hub.

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