"I Need a Mobile Strategy...Now What?" | npENGAGE

“I Need a Mobile Strategy…Now What?”

By on Nov 13, 2012


Most organizations I speak with understand the shift from desktop computing to mobile devices, but struggle a bit on defining what this means to their organization.

(If you’d like a great overview of why nonprofits need a mobile engagement strategy, see Jake Marcinko’s npEngage article on the topic.  The net is that “use of mobile technologies in general operations and fundraising is expected to double in the next 12 months.”  I also found this, this, and this to be interesting reads on the broader subject of mobile strategy, for those interested in the topic.)

For those who are looking for a clear next step in mobile strategy, Blackbaud’s Annual State of the Nonprofit Industry (or “SONI”) report provides some insights and food for thought on what your peers may be doing.

Enabling their website for mobile browsing

Does your entire website need to be mobile-friendly? Reasonable people seem to disagree on the question, but I’d suggest that optimizing the mobile experience on key pages and user paths, such as giving, campaigns, event registration, and news, will likely cover the majority of your users needs, and would be good areas to focus efforts.

Other high-priority considerations may include mobile-friendly styling for tablets and media items (e.g. slideshows, video, interactive features), depending on your content strategy and user preferences.  See also Lacey Kruger’s Mobile Content Strategy on Create Once Publish Everywhere for a great example of how a mobile-optimized site serves needs of users across devices.

Using QR codes to bring attention to their mission or enable quick access to their donation page

Echoing the SONI report is another recent Blackbaud report, Donor Perspectives: An Investigation into What Drives Your Donors to Give, which found that ease of use and having access to information that proved the impact of their contributions are key to a donor’s decision to give a gift.

These factors certainly contribute to the rise in popularity of QR codes, which are relatively easy to integrate into current marketing efforts (say, your next event invitation or flyer) to direct users to targeted areas of your site (say, a landing page about the event, the session schedule for the event, or directly to an event registration form).  Hint: make sure your QR code directs to a mobile-friendly page!

Optimizing emails for mobile devices

Of utmost importance, keep in mind that users don’t typically “read” email on a mobile device (they scan), and they navigate with their thumbs and forefinger rather than a cursor (keep your buttons and links BIG).

That said, effectively executing mobile campaigns requires an understanding of the trend to mobile email clients, as well as how specific email clients (say, Outlook, vs. iOS, vs. Lotus) will impact how the email is rendered.  Check out Campaign Monitor‘s great resource on the adoption of various email clients, as well as this chart outling which elements within an email will be rendered by various email clients.

I suspect many readers are actively pursuing mobile engagement strategies beyond those listed above, and I encourage readers to share their thoughts in the comments below.


One of the founding members of Blackbaud’s interactive services team, Bo Crader works in various capacities as a business architect, implementation advisor and strategist. Recent projects include developing a multi-site rollout approach for a large healthcare organization, advising on the launch of a rebranding effort for a national federated nonprofit, and leading enterprise-wide organizational and technical assessments. A Blackbaud veteran, Bo has held positions in communications, consulting and business solutions.  He worked previously in publishing and served in the military. Specific areas of expertise include interactive strategy, emerging technologies, solution architecture and design, and project planning. Bo has been published in a number of publications on topics related to technology and fundraising trends. Bo holds a Master’s degree from the University of Georgia.  Bo is a frequent volunteer in his local community of Clemson, South Carolina, where he recently led an effort to start a nonprofit, and now serves as the organization’s Board Chair.

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