Every nonprofit dreams of having sustainable sources of funding that fully fuel every part of its operations. However, this isn’t the reality for many organizations. The National Council of Nonprofits indicates that a minority of nonprofit organizations are able to set aside the recommended six months of cash reserves (or “rainy day fund”). Many nonprofits have less than three months in these reserves.
To overcome these odds, your nonprofit needs to meet donors where they already are—meaning that you need to take your fundraising efforts to the communication channels they spend the most time on. Using more traditional approaches like direct mail is still effective and generates significant amounts of revenue for nonprofits each year. But, it could be time to modernize your efforts to push your campaigns to the next level by implementing mobile fundraising.
Let’s get started by covering the basics of this strategy.
What is mobile fundraising?
Mobile fundraising is a technique that allows donors to give to your nonprofit via a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Mobile giving can serve as a standalone campaign or as a piece of a larger fundraising initiative that involves other giving methods.
When you use this fundraising technique, you can reach more supporters with less time, effort, and money than more traditional outreach methods. Because you’ll be able to connect with a much larger audience, you can connect with untapped audiences of passionate supporters who could one day become important major donors. Additionally, because it makes giving so convenient, mobile fundraising is a great way to enhance donors’ experiences with your organization.
4 Mobile Fundraising Best Practices
1. Use effective technology.
Because this form of giving is entirely digital, you’ll need the right technology to keep everything running smoothly.
Depending on your nonprofit’s needs, goals, and the way you’ll use mobile giving, consider using one (or a combination) of the following solutions:
- Mobile donation pages. These pages are simply mobile-responsive versions of your digital donation form. Because so much web traffic occurs via mobile devices, it’s best if your website (and all of its pages and forms) are mobile-friendly. Make sure your donation form software is able to resize the form for any device and that all buttons and form fields are large enough to be tapped on a touchscreen.
- Text-to-give software. When your nonprofit registers with one of these platforms, you’ll receive a unique phone number to share with your donors. Instruct donors to text a code or dollar amount to the number, and they’ll typically be prompted to click a link to enter payment information and confirm the donation. Some platforms store this information so that in the future donors can donate just by sending a text or two.
- Mobile giving apps. Some donors may want a method that is still convenient but feels more secure. In this case, you may want to opt for a mobile app instead. There are a variety of these apps tailored to different organizations and sectors, so make sure to do your research and choose one that fits your needs and budget. Ideally, the app should have features such as the option to make one-time and recurring gifts, a feature for covering transaction fees, and built-in text-to-give tools.
Investing in the right technology before launching your fundraising campaign will streamline your efforts, ensure that each payment made is secure, and even provide you with valuable data that can be used to guide future fundraisers.
2. Learn what your donors want.
Understanding your donors is the foundation of any successful fundraiser, and it’s a key stepping stone on your path toward sustainable fundraising.
Allegiance Group’s guide to driving donations highlights the importance of personalizing outreach to your donors, explaining that “by making donors feel like they are part of a larger cause and can directly contribute to achieving those goals, you’ll encourage them to increase the value and frequency of their gifts.”
Here’s how you can translate this advice into actionable next steps for your mobile giving campaign:
- Conform to communication preferences. While it may seem obvious, it’s important to make sure that the donors you reach out to through a mobile fundraiser use and prefer digital or mobile communication channels. If they seldom engage via mobile devices or are uncomfortable with mobile giving, they may have a negative reaction to a seemingly random ask via text message (e.g., deleting and reporting the message as spam).
- Tailor your ask amounts. If you are reaching out to donors with fundraising appeals through their mobile devices, make sure the appeal aligns with each supporter’s giving affinity and capacity. You can determine what those thresholds are by analyzing their past giving behaviors, conducting wealth screenings, and studying demographic data.
- Segment donors. Among your donors who prefer mobile giving, some will have other unique preferences. For example, if you run a food pantry, some of these supporters may support your pantry because they have personally struggled with food insecurity, while others simply want to give back to their community. If your nonprofit is aware of these different motivations, it can create custom messages for each segment.
One of the simplest ways to add warmth and authenticity to these messages is with a personalized greeting. If possible, configure your mobile giving platform to begin each message with the donor’s first name.
3. Study and follow giving patterns.
Your nonprofit can also use data analytics to identify and align with organization- and sector-wide trends in giving.
For example, according to NPOInfo’s charitable giving statistics, 17% to 22% of nonprofit donations occur in December. So, it’s wise for nonprofits to ramp up fundraising efforts—including mobile donation asks—significantly during the end-of-year season of giving.
Some other broad giving trends to look out for include:
- Increased giving as a response to disasters, political events and outcomes, or other urgent needs. For instance, many organizations experienced a boost in revenue during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Event-driving giving that occurs around galas, 5Ks, auctions, or other similar fundraisers.
- Internal milestones, such as your nonprofit’s ten-year anniversary, that warrant special gifts from donors.
- Initiatives from influential external parties that could drive an increase in revenue. This might include partnering with an influencer for a cause marketing campaign or working with a corporation on their CSR campaign.
Your sector and organization will likely encounter other, more niche giving patterns as well. Just remember to keep a record of and address any significant increases (or decreases) in fundraising revenue from your mobile giving efforts.
4. Continue your donor stewardship efforts.
Just because mobile giving tends to be a more informal way to solicit donations doesn’t mean that you should abandon your stewardship efforts for mobile donors. These supporters require (and deserve) just as much recognition and gratitude for their contributions as a more traditional donor would receive.
As you would with your marketing or fundraising efforts, you should tailor your recognition method to each donor’s preferences and contributions. Continue to greet them by name, and mention the amount of their contribution along with details about its impact. Returning to the food pantry example, you might tell a supporter who gave $50 that their donation provided a family with a week’s worth of groceries.
Additionally, you’ll need to reach out via a digital channel to ensure donors actually see your message. Sending a text is great for a short, casual thank-you. For longer, more official messages to recognize donors who gave larger amounts, consider sending them an email or include a link to an eCard in the text.
Keep in mind that with a little creativity, you can leverage mobile giving in many different ways. For example, if you use this method during virtual or hybrid fundraisers to help attendees quickly make donations, you might gain the momentum you need to meet or even exceed your set fundraising goal. Over time, this simple, low-cost fundraising technique can expand your supporter base while making it easier than ever to contribute to a good cause.