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December 4, 2021
Now’s the Time to Implement a Mobile Based Fundraising Plan
By Doug Plank

Doug Plank
Doug Plank
With half of all nonprofits expected to use mobile technology to support fundraising in some way in 2012, it’s important to create and implement a mobile strategy if you haven’t already.

Before you embark on a mobile strategy, be aware that the $10 million raised by the Red Cross in three days following the Haiti earthquake in 2010—whereby mobile users contributed by texting to a shortcode and having a $5 or $10 donation charged to their mobile bills—is far from the norm.

Still, mobile based fundraising holds great promise. Based on successful partnerships with several nonprofits over the years, the following tips will help you implement your own mobile strategy.

1. Start building your mobile lists NOW.
Collect those mobile numbers however you can ”“ online, email, standard donor pledge forms. Use all your standard donor collection methods and include mobile numbers as one of your desired data fields. What development professional wouldn’t want access to the most effective ubiquitous communication device being carried by literally every current and prospective donor, board member, and person they serve? Open rates for text messaging of 95%+ should be incentive enough. Compare those rates to the decreasing email open rate of 35% and diminishing direct mail rates of single digits.

2. Test your constituent’s receptivity to joining a mobile list.
Always keep in mind the importance of testing the frequency and type of message your audience is interested in. And remember such testing is incredibly easy and affordable via mobile. Finally, don’t forget you have numerous audiences within our constituencies. If your messages are meaningful, you will develop mobile into a trusted and highly responsive communication channel with supporters.

3. Poll to measure interest, gather opinions, and solicit suggestions.
Start with easy polling tools. Opening this new communication channel by seeking advice, opinion, and ideas is a great way to establish trust while refining your mobile communication strategy. I’ve heard time and again how valuable this early step is to developing a strong mobile strategy based on actual constituency feedback.

4. Add a video link.
Texting isn’t just 140 characters anymore. More than 85% of new handsets are web enabled. Adding a link to a video helps your nonprofit deliver services to those in need, enables staff in the field to update supporters, and lets the CEO make a specific call to action for volunteers or send a message expressing heartfelt gratitude.

5. Supplement mobile messages with a text message.
Nonprofits are finding that sending a text message increases response rates to more traditional communication methods. Nonprofits have seen a valuable “lift” in response rates to direct mail, email, event, and volunteer invitations and telephone appeals for yearend gifts when a text message is sent as a follow up to reinforce your latest appeal(s).

6. Encourage micro mobile donations.
This is great for securing micro donations of $5 and $10 via a simple, easily understood “call to action” followed by a thank you and invitation to join your mobile list. Doing so will enable you to also offer to send a gift receipt—which will require them to provide their name, physical, or email address—great data for continued cultivation and securing additional gifts from your Text to Give donors.

7. Support macro mobile donations.
Most people do not realize the advantages of text pledging which secures a donor commitment of any size through SMS messaging that is fulfilled through a credit card. Many of our clients use this tool at special events and dinners to great success. In fact, we have seen mobile pledges of $5,000 and $10,000 with this tool. And, the information collected is great ”“ name, address, email, etc., whatever data you want to request is possible. If the donor is willing to share, it can be captured.

8. Create a mobile friendly website.
If you knew that 40% of your constituency is conducting most of their web browsing via their mobile device, how differently would you approach your web presence? Is your web site mobile friendly? Are you anticipating or responding to this fact? Since online donations will be moving to mobile, being mobile friendly will enable you to increase the amount you raise and the data you gather, paving the way to subsequent or recurring donations.

9. Define your strategy.
It needn’t be complicated, but you need to think through your objectives for mobile and keep in mind that integration with your other communication channels is important. In addition to the steps outlined above, it’s important to create a story around your organization’s desire to go mobile and seek feedback from your early adopters and those who resist. Give some “literal” and “digital” ink to your mobile strategy and seek feedback.

10. Begin!
A mobile strategy is affordable, effective, and flexible ”“ and your competition is already using or planning to use mobile soon.

Doug Plank, founder and CEO of MobileCause, with three decades of experience raising funds for cause-related and nonprofit institutions, advises on nonprofit segment strategy, customer service, retention, legal, investor, and board relations. Email him at
November 2011
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