Q-and-A With Michael Kondratick, Director of Grassroots Advocacy, JDRF
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the largest charitable funder and advocate of type 1 diabetes research, recently launched a mobile-marketing campaign that uses wireless technology to enhance communication with and generate involvement from its advocates across the country. Called DiabeTXT, the program sends information to JDRF constituents via text messages, alerting them about important legislation news, diabetes research news and upcoming events.
We recently caught up with Michael Kondratick, director of grassroots advocacy for JDRF, to talk with him a bit about how the program is working and what he sees for its future.
FundRaising Success: When did your organization decide to use mobile technology?
Michael Kondratick: We’ve been experimenting with text messaging for [about] six months. We’ve started here in the advocacy program as a way to pilot the technology, to try to gauge how our audience would respond to it and then make the decisions further on on how we wanted to expand its use. So for the six months we’ve been working on it, it’s been focused on its advocacy efforts. Although here and there we’ve tested in some broader JDRF venues.
FS: What are you hoping mobile helps you achieve?
MK: You know for us specifically within advocacy, the biggest aspect that we were focused on was the potential to more effectively mobilize people. Obviously, a very high percentage of people have their cell phones with them essentially at all times. Having the ability to build a database of mobile followers that we can communicate with instantaniously and then have a decent percentage of them communicate instantly with their legislator, we just thought it was too important of a channel to ignore from that perspective.
And as mobile technology advances and more of the cell phone market becomes dominated by the smart phone — you know iPhone, Blackberrys, etc. — the more elaborate we can be with what we can ask people to do over their cell phone. So now in a lot of cases you can use instant messaging saying, “Hey, we need you to call this 800 number so you can connect to your legislator.” I mean that still obviously adds value. They can do that immediately. They don’t need to get back to their computer, whenever that may be, to complete an advocacy action. There are a decent amount of times where we only have 24 hours or less to generate some type of a response. So someone getting back to their computer that night to see our actual alert may have missed out.