GuideStar Blog

This blog post is being written on a mobile device

This blog post is being written on a mobile device.

T. Clay Buck T. Clay Buck

It will be saved and sent via email on a cell phone and, once posted, will be accessed on the web via a phone or a tablet. Mobile devices provide us with more productivity options than we ever thought possible and, more and more, we are spending time interfacing with devices on the go.

We can assume that a large percentage of people huddled over their phones, their faces reflecting the soft blue light of the screens, are playing Angry Birds or watching cute kitten videos – but it’s entirely possible that just as many are providing food for the hungry, shelter in a storm, a home for an abandoned pet, or scholarships for students. All from their cell phone or tablet.

In the late 1990s, email solicitation was in its infancy and online giving was often clunky or awkward – and not really widely trusted. Today, a truly robust annual fund (or even capital campaign or major gift program) relies on an integrated e-solicitation strategy, coupled with direct mail and tele-fundraising, to provide optimal donor outreach.

Midway through the second decade of the twenty-first century, mobile giving is joining that list in equal measure.

As technology develops, though, the best practices in fundraising – the fundamentals – remain the same. Engaged donors who believe in and are involved with the mission will give more than those who are not. To create that engagement we need to meet donors where they are and communicate how they are communicating. And increasingly, that is via mobile.

Fundraising via mobile device, though, is not just about texting to give. There are several key components to a complete mobile giving program:

  • Mobile Applications – “apps”
  • Mobile-enabled website
  • SMS or Text-To-Give

The mGive Foundation works with nonprofits of all shapes and sizes throughout the country on their mobile giving programs, and they describe these different approaches in more detail here.

Some limitations to mobile giving remain – in a pure text-to-give environment the size of the donation can be capped (typically $5 or $10) and, of utmost importance, donor demographic information is not always captured in the transaction. Contacting donors by cell phone – whether for a text-to-give program or calling for an outright contribution –requires their permission. These restrictions, though, give us one more opportunity to communicate with our donors – including opt-in language on response devices or proactively capturing cell phone information (and explaining why) can go a long way in keeping the communication lines open and having an ongoing relationship with donors and supporters.

Engaging with donors via mobile presents new ways of interacting with and engaging our communities. Like all fundraising channels it doesn’t exist in a vacuum but is – more and more – becoming an integral part of a truly robust, multi-channel solicitation strategy. And, like all channels, it’s becoming not just a solicitation methodology but one of engagement, information sharing and stewardship. Most people keep their cell phone number when all other information (address, email, etc.) may change and the immediacy of text gets information directly in front of people where other channels (mail, email) may sit unread or unnoticed.

If you’d like to learn more about multi-channel strategies and annual giving, please feel free to download WealthEngine Institute’s free educational workbook, The Data-Driven Annual Fund. The three-part series covers everything from crafting the case for support, to determining ask amounts and stewardship best practices.

The preceding is a guest post by T. Clay Buck, Senior Client Services Consultant for WealthEngine. With two decades of experience in fundraising and the nonprofit arena, Clay brings a broad range of experience in all aspects of Development and Institutional Advancement, with particular expertise in Annual Fund and Capital Campaigns and Individual Giving. Clay has worked in development for several performing arts and higher education organizations in the Chicago area. In 2002 he joined the consulting firm, IDC, in Henderson, NV and conducted hundreds of successful fundraising campaigns for all types of nonprofits across the United States. Clay specializes in Individual Giving, Annual and Capital Campaigns and helping to build institutional capacity and Major Gift pipelines. Clay joined WealthEngine in 2012 and works with clients across the country on implementing wealth intelligence in their fundraising programs and interpreting screening results. Clay holds a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Theatre from Michigan State University, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, as well as advanced studies in professional writing. He has served on the boards of various nonprofits throughout the Southeast and Midwest and was a frequent presenter on best practices in fundraising in the Chicago area. He makes his home in Las Vegas where he volunteers with his three Labrador Retrievers as an Animal Assisted Therapy team.

Topics: Fundraising