As I look back at my communication’s and development career technology has changed the way I work – I remember the days when we had a major product launch and had teams of people in New York and Washington D.C. the morning of the announcement to “run” the press releases to the key media outlets/reporters. Technology has changed all that. I can hit the send button and send the press release to everyone who wants it at the same time. My mobile phone’s GPS has also changed getting me to the right place mostly on time. Because of technology reporters are no longer confined to the publisher’s building – my last press tour took me to the homes of reporters in three small towns for kitchen table product demos. (With virtual meeting tools and video conferencing, we’re even doing less of that.) As an event fundraiser, I remember fighting for walkie-talkies during fundraising events, just to stay in touch with my co-workers and volunteers. Do you remember how hard it was to get in touch with a key volunteer once they headed home for the evening… (Man I’m old – two miles up hill, both ways through the snow kind of old.)
Of all the communication technology the mobile phone is probably as disruptive as any… I noticed last night how it has changed dating for my teenage daughter.
As a father, I like the fact that when my daughter and her boyfriend are sitting together on the couch they continue to text friends, while they talk with each other and watch TV – I encourage the keeping of hands on mobile devices at all times. Had W. Bruce Cameron’sbook “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” been written today, we’d add a chapter about the benefits of boyfriends who continue to text friends while on dates with one’s daughter. That’s probably a better story for a post on fatherhood though. But I digress…
The most recent development with mobile technology is that of a giving platform. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake close to $50 million was given through this channel. Although gift amounts were limited to $5 to $10 dollars an estimated 6.5 million people used their cell phone to donate. This was unprecedented level of giving through this channel and might mark the tipping point for greater adoption.
We teamed with Edge Research andSea Change Strategies on a national survey of US charitable donors conducted one week after the earthquake in Haiti, and during intense fundraising efforts for emergency relief – this is part of a broader study that will be released in the coming days on the contrasting charitable habits of Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Matures to provide the nonprofit sector with insights on cultivating the next generation of American donors.(This is the same team that gave us the ground-breaking research on the “Wired Wealthy.”)
Here are some of the key findings.
- 77 percent of respondents were aware of the Haiti text-to-donate efforts
- 17 percent of Gen Y respondents and 14 percent of Gen X made a donation to Haiti relief efforts via text message, and 3 percent of both Boomer and Mature respondents made a donation to Haiti relief efforts via text message
- 28 percent of respondents with a mobile Facebook application texted a gift
- Generally speaking, 15 percent of all respondents were willing to donate via text message after an emergency occurs and 11 percent were willing to donate via text message if a friend is raising money
- Just three percent of donors say that they received a text/SMS message from their top charities this year
- However, those who have received information from a top charity through text/SMS, feel that it is an important way to stay in touch with the charities they care about (71% say it is important).
You can download the full study at: www.convio.com/mobile2010
When you look at this data, the results Convio’s clients are having online with fundraising, advocacy and other forms of engagement, the segmentation and donor relations pathways that are now available through open database systems like Convio Common Ground, all tied to modern technology it is an exciting time to be part of this sector. While the economy is having a negative impact, it is also driving innovation as people look for more efficient and effective ways to operate their organizations, to reach and cultivate donors and spread the word about their causes.
The only certainty we face is change and those that embrace change will be best positioned for the future. We must adapt to change, to data intensive applications and new technologies that push us in new directions and beyond our comfort zone.
Now, its’ time to send an “REI” text to my daughter as she’s upstairs watching TV with her boyfriend. What does REI stand for? It’s dad for “response expected immediately.” Much like mobile fundraising – donation expected immediately…oh how the world has changed.