While those of us in philanthropy may not like to admit it, we know that our industry tends to be around five years behind the eight ball when it comes to technology adoption.  Nonprofits don’t often have the same resources as those in the for-profit sector to invest in new technologies.

But more than likely you’re a smart phone user.  These days, who isn’t?  However, it’s not just our daily lives that are being influenced by mobile. Mobile devices are now influencing our sector in a major way. It’s easier than ever for donors to give instantly when a nonprofit’s mission is top of mind.  And, in a world of so much online competition, even in the philanthropic space, timing is everything.  Being ready for mobile donations to float in—if a natural disaster arises or the next big philanthropic challenge occurs—is a priority.

Let’s talk about why mobile design and mobile capabilities are crucial to your organization, and the simple things you can do to harness the technology at your fingertips.

Research on trends in millenial giving indicate that nonprofits need to focus a lot on tapping into younger generations and cultivating those relationships.  The recently released 2015 millennial impact report shows that 84 percent of millennials surveyed gave a charitable donation in 2014.  Thirty percent of those donations were made via an online giving platform. And, according to a Pew Internet study, 7 percent of Americans own a smartphone but have neither traditional broadband service at home, nor easily available alternatives for going online other than their cell phone.

Don’t miss opportunities because your giving options are not mobile-friendly.

We have to be mobile-friendly philanthropists.

Here are four tips to help your organization become more mobile-friendly in 2015:

1. Simplify your site design

Simple, clean design and navigation are what the modern consumer desires. When you think about your website’s design, think about empathy. Have empathy for your users and be authentic in your content.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would your fans and potential supporters be able to easily click through your website on their smartphone or tablet?
  • Would they end up frustrated and unable to navigate through all the content on your site?
  • What would you want your own experience to be?

2. Make your website and donation form responsive

According to research by Brandon Granger of Blackbaud, responsive websites have significantly better conversion rates.

Donors are 34% more likely to make a git after reaching a donation form when the website is responsive.

Why are conversion rates important?

If a visit to your donation page doesn’t result in a gift, it’s an indicator that a potential donor intended on giving but changed their mind.

3. Adopt a mobile giving app

Mobile giving apps making giving simple and modern for event and do-it-yourself fundraising.

There are options available that provide coaching tools, a clean user experience, and social sharing that put the power of peer-to-peer fundraising in the palm of your fundraiser’s hands.

4. Focus on content marketing and social interaction

I know, I know, we still say email is king, but just tune into John Haydon or read some social marketing reports, like this one.  It’s crucial that you incorporate social components into your content marketing efforts. Email has it’s place, but you must think mutli-channel and provide your fans with ample opportunities to engage.

In a recent presentation he did on the importance of data-driven web design, my friend Ryan LaBouve quoted Elliot Eisner, who said: “Not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that is measured matters.” 

Framed around this conversation of mobile, I love this quote because it is useful for those of us who have to spend our time researching statistics about mobile giving, scouring industry reports to be able to make “a case” to the board.  When it comes to mobile giving, statistics alone will not make the case. Sure, I listed some above. But, what we really need is to simply use our common sense.  It’s not just millennials that are going mobile—we’re all mobile. And it’s time that our sector caters to the behaviors and preferences of our donors and potential donors.

In today’s world it is standard for people to use mobile devices to access the internet and take action to complete just about anything on their to-do list, including giving. Use your own life and mobile device use as an example for your pitch if you have to convince those that are still hesitant to invest.

The future of mobile fundraising is sitting in your pocket. Simplify, embrace social connectivity, and use authenticity to build your organization’s future. It’s time to take our fundraising and communication strategies to the next level.


Taylor Shanklin is a peer-to-peer boss lady, full-time mom and part-time marketing consultant in the non-profit sector.  Prior to her leap into full-time motherhood, Taylor spent an eight year tenure at Convio and then Blackbaud. In her time at Blackbaud she worked with organizations large and small and worn many hats.  She has led numerous Luminate Online and TeamRaiser implementations, and  has worked as a strategy consultant with the Go! program.  Some of her peer-t-peer projects included working with Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day, National MS Society, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides, and ALS Association’s Community of Hope.

Taylor (a.k.a., T-Shank) is a total coffee addict and has a particular affinity for peer-to-peer fundraising and has completed several Team in Training events with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, receiving her triple crown for having competed in cycling, triathlon and marathon events. When not working, she is busy chasing around her two kiddos, lifting weights and getting in a little guilty TV time.  Originally from Austin, TX, she and her husband are huge UT Longhorn fans.  You can follow Taylor on twitter @tshankcycles and find her blogging on npENGAGE. Hook ‘em

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