Is mobile only for the big guys?

According to the New York Times, “many nonprofits simply cannot afford the kind of promotional campaign needed to publicize mobile giving efforts, nor do they benefit from the kind of exposure that a round-the-clock, disaster-driven news event provides.” 

A recent article quoted leaders in the field of mobile marketing essentially saying just that.  In spite of the fact that the American Red Cross raised $2 million for Haiti relief efforts within the first 24 hours after the earthquake, and $30 million in mobile giving for Haiti overall, “the costs of maintaining a mobile donating program can outweigh the proceeds,” according to the Times. 

Because texted donations are currently limited to $5 and $10 increments and capped by mobile phone companies, the quality and long-term value of donors acquired with this method is in question.  And, if current donors who average $25 to $50 each time they give opt to respond with their phone, average gift size is obviously eroded. 

So, what can an organization do to capture the wave of the future in fundraising (if this is the wave you want to ride)? 

  1. Keep on top of the wave.  Know what’s happening now.  Mobile fundraising is a moving target.  Change is the only given.  New opportunities will develop that will be useful to smaller organizations.  Be ready to jump on those.   
  2. Don’t be greedy.  Fundraisers salivate at success like the Red Cross’s $30 million.  But mobile can be used for building and cultivating relationships, which is what 20 and 30-somethings are really interested in anyway.  One of our clients, Josh McDowell, is doing just that by getting audience members at his presentations to use their phones to sign up for his daily devotional. 
  3. Think integrated.  Mobile will work best when it’s part of a larger, integrated campaign.  And that makes more sense when evaluating success as well.  And remember, donors who respond through several channels are worth significantly more in long-term value than those with whom you have a single channel relationship. 

See my white paper for more information on mobile marketing. 

We keep our phones with us 24/7.  Making them a relationship builder for your ministry is a challenge worth pursuing with patience, diligence and wisdom. 

Dave Raley

Director of Digital