Case Studies: Mobile Fundraising and Advocacy Successes
With the adoption of smartphone and cell phone use growing exponentially every year, the question facing fundraisers is clear: Can mobile phones help us reach out and get donors engaged?
The answer for World Childhood Foundation (WCF) was yes. “Mobile marketing was a way we determined [we] could engage new supporters and donors,” said Charlotte Brandin, executive director of World Childhood Foundation USA, during her session, “World Childhood Foundation USA: Managing Donations From SMS and a Mobile Website,” at the 2011 Nonprofit Mobile Day in Washington, D.C., last month.
Bradin and Fredrik Oscarson, CEO of Mobiento — the mobile ad agency that works with WCF on its mobile initiatives — shared ways WCF and other organizations have used mobile fundraising and advocacy to engage both longtime and new donors.
WCF had two main objectives in embarking on its mobile mission: to get donations from the current donor pool (baby boomers and the 65-and-up generations), and to engage a younger generation to build relationships. The goal with the first group was to get donations, and for the second group, it was more about building that relationship through interactivity and personal connections to become donors in the future.
“Raising awareness and funds is a two-way street,” Brandin said. “… It’s important to engage with a purpose. So we needed to formulate a strategy to build engagement and long-term relationships.”
That’s where Mobiento came in. WCF looked to the mobile ad agency to see how mobile fundraising and advocacy efforts could be successfully implemented.
“Don’t just see mobile as a payment mechanism, because it’s so much more than that,” Oscarson said. “Use the mobile channel to create engagement, interactivity … and as a personal device to develop relationships.”
Oscarson then shared some of the same case studies he showed WCF to display the power of mobile fundraising and advocacy.
‘A Working Week in Africa’
The first mobile campaign Oscarson shared was Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) Working Week campaign, which won the Mobile Marketing Association’s 2007 Best Use of Mobile Marketing, Promotion Award.
The objectives of the campaign were to:
- Illustrate how donations are spent.
- Reach new target groups.
- Establish a simple monthly donation service.
- Establish direct communication with donors.
And the real catalyst was to inform donors and supporters of the scope of MSF’s work.
“People tend to think that Doctors Without Borders is only about doctors,” Oscarson said. “We wanted to show it was so much more than that.”
So MSF and Mobiento came up with a unique mobile strategy — sending daily mobile updates following MSF workers in the field for a week to see what they do every day. MSF filmed workers on site, then sent the videos to Mobiento where they were cut, edited and prepared to be sent via MMS.
Every day, recipients who opted in would receive video messages from someone in the field updating them on what he or she did that day. It drove home the point: This is what MSF was doing … what are YOU doing while Doctors Without Borders is saving lives? And each MMS contained a direct donation link — one click and you could donate $5.
What MSF and Mobiento found was that donors became brand ambassadors. The messages were so unique and engaging that recipients would share them with their friends and families. So the mobile marketing campaign became a viral campaign. And the interesting thing was that the last message was sent at 8:30 p.m. on a Friday and had some of the best response. The reasoning behind deploying the final message of the week then was that recipients would most likely be out in social settings and would share it with those around them, which would in turn enhance the MSF brand even more.
‘Text a Coffin Away’
People who had been following MSF with the Working Week campaign mostly signed up for $5 to keep getting mobile messages. After a year, MSF called them from the call center and asked them to donate more as a cultivation technique. The MMS campaign was the entry step to bigger donations, Oscarson said.
With that in mind, MSF embarked on another MMS campaign: Text a Coffin Away. See the video below.
Video messages were sent and people were asked to donate to help save lives and take coffins away. The response was fast and furious: MSF exceeded its fundraising goal for the week in the first two hours of the campaign.
Another organization that has had success with mobile is Amnesty International. The human rights organization wanted to use mobile to add a sense of urgency, generate recurring donations, reach out to the masses, leverage activists’ social networks and create engagement. So it created a viral video to recruit SMS activists. See the video below.
The video has the sound of text messages coming in in the background, and as each message comes in, the man who is torturing the prisoner cannot harm him. The idea was to show the donor that her SMS is making a difference, Oscarson said.
The end of the video then encourages people to “Save lives with an SMS. Send Activist Start and your name to 72900.” Those who opted in then were taken to the mobile site for registration, where they could “log in to see their account, see what kind of donations you want to make, read about what’s going on, etc.,” Oscarson said.
The mobile site was used as a hub for information … and a hub for action. On the mobile site, Amnesty asked people for one-time donations, to sign protests and to share the message via social media. For instance, you could send a text as a signature for a protest. Those text “signatures” then were printed and handed to embassies as physical protest sheets, making for an easy way for supporters to sign petitions.
Further, the mobile actions were integrated instantly to Facebook, the mobile site and the Amnesty International website to target a larger, broader audience — generating donations, engagement and cultivating relationships.
Seeing the capabilities mobile holds, WCF embarked on its mobile strategy. It began with a mobile website that focused on simple and crisp design; intuitive navigation; an instant call to action; click-to-donate functionality; and “snack-sized” content, such as audio files.
WCF also implemented a text-to-give element for one-time donations of $5 or $10. It would then confirm donations with an automated thank-you message and provide ways to donate for other amounts below the $5 and $10 buttons, asking for personal contact info as well to add to its file.
“In addition to donations, we wanted to give information as well,” Brandin said. So WCF got some of its best, high-profile supporters — like New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist — to record PSAs about WCF and the work it does and sent them out as MMS messages.
Moving forward in 2011, WCF is looking ramp up its mobile initiatives by implementing even more mobile programs:
- SMS donations;
- donor subscriptions;
- creative campaigns;
- campaigns with corporate sponsors;
- sending information to existing donors;
- mobile shop; and
- donor acquisition.
Reasons for going mobile
- Recruit new donors from new target groups.
- Make existing donors more active.
- Lower the barrier to donate — trigger action.
- Capture data.
- Building relationships and loyalty.
Keys to mobile success
- The mobile phone is not just a payment mechanism, it’s a device for communication … but you can talk straight to the wallet.
- Mobile phones are highly personal, so don’t be afraid to get personal and perhaps stir up emotions.
- Leverage mobile characteristics in mobile campaigns, e.g., sense of urgency or immediacy, feeling of real-time broadcasts, etc.
- Mobile integrates well with other media, so use the strengths of each. Don’t just add a short code.
- If you can do the campaign in any other channel, do it in any other channel. Use mobile when it can fulfill something no other channel can fulfill.
- People use their mobile phones to connect to social networks, so don’t forget to tap in to your ambassadors’ personal networks.