Mobile Giving: The Future of Fundraising

Hand Using Mobile to Donate

Is your organization harnessing the power of online strategies to raise money? In 2016, the number of nonprofit organizations receiving online donations increased by 33 percent compared to 2015. With approximately 20 percent of giving now done online, this past year on Giving Tuesday (November, 29, 2016), a similar 20 percent increase in online donations (compared to 2015) illustrated the power of not only online fundraising, but especially mobile giving. Twenty-two percent of donations came from a mobile device, like a tablet or smartphone.

Since 2014, there has been a significant yearly increase in the number of people making donations from their mobile devices, said Brandon Granger, senior interaction designer at Blackbaud, which focuses on fundraising solutions for nonprofits. Although initially the growing rate of mobile donations surprised people, this trend will continue, he predicts, with mobile giving rates becoming particularly important for nonprofit fundraising.

“The biggest thing is that more and more people are using more and more devices,” said Granger. For example, over 50 percent of people now check their email on a mobile device. This means that emails, as well as websites and donation pages, must be designed to be read on mobile devices. And ideally, not just read, but also converted into mobile donations, Granger added.

Give through mobile devices

“We want to look at fundraising through a mobile lens,” said Heather Mansfield, founder of the website Nonprofit Tech for Good. Now many people and nonprofits associate mobile giving with text fundraising, where a donation is sent via text message. But, Mansfield stressed, mobile giving technology includes mobile-friendly websites, emails, donation pages, apps, and more.

Mansfield gave the example of someone opening a fundraising campaign email on a phone. To convert the fundraising email into a donation, the potential donor needs to be able to click on a donate button that links directly to a mobile-accessible donation page. Otherwise, the donation will probably be lost.

[Read more tips for online fundraising.]

Prepare now for mobile giving

According to Mansfield, the most important questions for any organization interested in mobile giving are “does your website work, do your emails look beautiful, and can all of it be used on a screen or tablet?” She added that mobile giving is not about “sexy” mobile apps, but about a fully functional and integrated digital presence that can be used on any screen.

Mansfield stated that fundraising is at a crossroads. To raise money in the next decade, organizations will have to be mobile. Right now, this means investing in mobile-responsive websites. Granger echoed this advice. “Start with responsive websites and donation forms,” he said, “then look at your email campaigns and make sure they work on mobile devices.”

Mansfield added that investing in responsive websites is difficult when nonprofits have limited budgets. However, she cautioned that not investing sets organizations up for fundraising failure.

“Write a mobile strategy that shows the statistics [for mobile giving and mobile user access], show what the competition is doing, and put together a plan and budget with specific data,” Mansfield advised. With the competition in the nonprofit world just getting bigger, it’s all about user engagement with mobile strategies.

[Tips for social-media fundraising.]

Integrate mobile giving and digital payments

As technology changes, so will mobile giving. Although mobile-responsive websites, donation pages, and emails are important for right now, Granger and Mansfield share the view that the future of mobile giving rests with digital payments.

The invention of digital payment formats includes digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, and Masterpass. Digital payments can also be made through social media options like Facebook or Twitter. These digital forms of payment – where credit card or other payment information is entered once and then used to pay through a click or a code – are going to lead to a “new generation of giving,” said Mansfield. “It will literally take two or three clicks to make a donation.”

Granger admitted that although these digital payment solutions are not yet integrated, it’s just a matter of time. As technology advances and user acceptance climbs, more and more people will be making donations at the click of a button.

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