Mobile Fundraising 101: The Basics

John Killoran

John Killoran

We’ve had some questions about mobile fundraising so here’s John Killoran, CEO of @Pay, to get us started. He’ll be back soon with more details on how to raise money with mobile so stay tuned. ~Kristina

Guest Post by John Killoran

Deep down, all forms of communication (email, letters, phone calls, etc.) have similar goals to meet. They aim to send a message, to make an impact, to help the voiceless be heard, the helpless be helped, and ultimately, to facilitate your nonprofit’s mission.

Whether that message is conveyed with stunning visuals or with powerful words, it’s your job to make sure that it’s received. That’s why it’s especially important as a nonprofit fundraising in the 21st century to look into the latest form of communication: mobile.

As with any relatively new type of communication, before you can fully adopt it into your strategy, you must first understand what it encompasses.

Let’s begin with the basic definition of mobile fundraising.

The Definition of Mobile Fundraising

Mobile fundraising, to put it simply, is the use of mobile technology (i.e. smartphones and mobile tablets) to raise money.

Nonprofits are the largest proponents of this technology, but they’re not the only ones who enjoy its simplicity and immediacy. Churches, for example, find mobile fundraising extremely useful.

Mobile fundraising can include, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Text-to-give campaigns.
  • QR code promotions.
  • Mobile donation websites.
  • Crowdfunding.
  • And more!

With the basic definition of mobile fundraising under your belt, it’s now time to explore the definitions of other popular terms associated with mobile.

Common Terms Associated with Mobile Fundraising

Mobile-responsive:

Mobile-responsive refers to websites and applications that are downloaded or viewed on mobile devices. If a website loads and responds just as well (if not better) on a mobile device as it does on a laptop or desktop computer, it’s considered “highly mobile-responsive.”

One of the keys to raising money through mobile is to start out with a very mobile-responsive website or application.

Text-to-give:

Text-to-give technology truly revolutionized the way a lot of people donate to charity. This technology allows users to text a donation amount to a phone number; the donor will then receive an automatic reply, prompting them to follow a link.

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If they’ve never donated before, the link will lead them to an information page, which will ask them for the standard payment info. If they’ve already filled this info out previously, they’ll simply receive an email with a confirmation in their mobile inbox.

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In the end, the donation process with text-to-give takes up less time than fixing up a bowl of cereal in the morning. And it’s nearly as simple.

Tokenization:

Tokenization is a difficult concept, but what it really boils down to is: taking sensitive information (credit card number, CCV code, etc.) and reconfiguring it so that no one can steal a donor’s identity.

QR code:

QR stands for “Quick Response.” QR code promotions are often seen on posters, flyers for events, or even menus at restaurants. It’s a lot like a barcode in that it’s a sequence that can be scanned by a machine.

Typically, the machine scanning a QR code is a mobile phone or tablet. The code can be designed to take the user to a mobile donation page or even just an informational (mobile-responsive) website!

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Mobile donation page:

Mobile donation pages are a lot like standard online donation pages. The main difference, of course, is that mobile donation pages have to be significantly easier to use.

That means cutting down on the number of required fields, making the buttons bigger and simpler to press, and making them as quick to load as possible.

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Crowdfunding:

Crowdfunding is a way of raising money, usually for a specific project, that involves petitioning donors through a specially designed platform. The way this platform looks can vary, but the most important feature of any successful crowdfunding campaign is its social appeal.

Because crowdfunding appeals are so easily shared on social media, they’ve become a large part of mobile fundraising. Crowdfunders map out their plans for mobile just as much as they do for standard online asks.

Who Uses Mobile Fundraising?

From political giants to two-person nonprofits, everyone is getting on board with mobile fundraising these days.
Here’s a short list of some of the types of organizations that use mobile to raise money:

  • Faith-based organizations
  • Arts and culture nonprofits
  • Political campaigns
  • Health and wellness organizations
  • Educational outreach funds
  • Environmental nonprofits
  • Animal rights organizations

In sum, everyone and anyone uses mobile fundraising technology.

Questions to Consider Before Signing On

Before your nonprofit invests in mobile fundraising technology, it’s important to assess whether or not you’re ready. It’s not a question of if mobile is right for you, it’s, “When would it be best to begin?”

Let’s dive in with some questions to start brainstorming with:

  • How have donors contributed funds in the past?
  • Do you have the necessary resources to get started? If not, how will you procure them?
  • Which facet of mobile fundraising makes the most sense for your donors?
  • How would you market mobile fundraising to your constituents?

Of course, there are so many more questions you’ll need to answer before you can get the ball rolling, but these are some important jumping-off points.

As a last bit of information before you’re fully ready to graduate Mobile Fundraising 101, we’ll discuss the difference between mobile fundraising and text-to-give.

There are a lot of sources out there that use the terms interchangeably, but the truth is: they’re different in some pretty key ways.

The Difference Between Mobile Fundraising and Text-to-Give

Because they’re such a key part of fundraising in our technology-centered world, it’s important to understand the difference between text-to-give and mobile fundraising.

For starters, mobile fundraising is the umbrella term under which text-to-give falls. Many people see them as synonymous, but mobile fundraising is a broader term that comprises:

  • Text-to-give.
  • Mobile email fundraising.
  • Mobile crowdfunding.
  • Mobile donation pages.
  • Raising money using mobile social media.
  • QR code fundraisers.
  • And much more.

As you can see, text-to-give, although it’s an important player, is not the only batter in the lineup.

With your newfound expertise in mobile fundraising, you’re just about ready to communicate and fundraise on a whole new playing field. Go ahead; hit it out of the park!

John Killoran is CEO of @Pay, an exciting new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to donate in two clicks from text, email, web and social media sites.  John pioneered SMTP payments and has been a major innovator in the mobile payments space for the past 5 years.     When he is not running a company, he is cooking food for his family and telling his dogs to stop barking.

Author: Kristina Leroux, Community Engagement Manager

I am the Community Engagement Manager at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com.

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