Getting Ahead of the Mobile Fundraising Revolution

By Clint Demeritt

It turns out smartphones are not just a fad.

We may not be at the mobile tipping point just yet, but smartphones are quickly overtaking desktops as the main way people consume information. While transitioning into the mobile environment will take some effort, many nonprofits can reap considerable benefits in this new smartphone world.

So how can you prime your nonprofit to take advantage of this mobile revolution?

A great start is a mobile-ready, responsively designed website. Many responsive websites are still designed for the desktop environment first with mobile as an afterthought. But now it’s time to design your website with mobile on the top of your mind. And since the desktop screen has such a big canvas, it’s easier to scale your mobile website up and have it look good rather than try and squeeze a desktop-designed site onto that smartphone screen.

A strong email list is another advantage in the mobile world. Despite being one of the oldest forms of web communication, email is a great way to reach people on their phones. Just about half (if not more) of all emails are opened on smartphones these days. People also tend to engage more with emails and spend more time per email than they would with a Tweet or Facebook post.

That aside, social media is also a powerful ally for mobile nonprofits. Much time spent on smartphones is spent browsing Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Not only should nonprofit marketers invest time gathering a following on their favorite social media sites, but they should also add big social media share buttons to their websites. That makes it easier for fans to share your content with their social media contacts.

These social media channels will also become great places for nonprofits to fundraise. Services such as $Cashtags and Snapcash are becoming more popular, allowing friends to transfer money to each other easily. Square, Inc., backs both of these services, which can be another great tool for nonprofits.

Nonprofits such as Wikipedia ($Wikipedia), (RED) ($RED) and the Bay Area public broadcaster KQED ($KQED) are already using $Cashtags to raise money. These links can be tweeted out or placed on your website and shared with ease.

Digital wallets on smartphones are also becoming more popular, and they can be useful for fundraising in cyberspace and the real world. You can add Apple Pay or Google Merchant buttons to your website for a more frictionless donation process. And in the real world, Square also has a contactless NFC reader that can take digital wallet payments as well as those new EMV credit cards.

Finally, Google has a lot of great tools for nonprofits on and off the smartphone. If you sign up for Google for Nonprofits, you can get free office tools, some free money for ads through Google Ad Grants and more. But the YouTube Nonprofit Program will be the most useful program for nonprofits in the mobile environment.

YouTube is the most popular social media network, especially among younger demographics that are all about their smartphones. YouTube gives nonprofits more flexibility when it comes to linking videos to outside websites and fundraising campaigns. And YouTube has donation cards that nonprofits can add to their videos to help with fundraising.

Embracing the mobile web won’t only help nonprofits for when smartphones take over the Internet, but it will allow them to be better prepared for the future when the Internet of Things (web-connected smart refrigerators, cars and watches) becomes more of a reality.

For more information on how nonprofits can use the mobile world to increase their fundraising, check out the “Making Mobile Work for Fundraising” session at the DMA New York Nonprofit Conference.

This article is brought to you by the DMA Nonprofit Federation. Click here to register for the 2016 New York Nonprofit Conference.