Exploring the Brave, New World of Mobile Giving
After the earthquake in Haiti, the word “mobile” seemed to take on a life of its own. Like most bright, shiny things, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the success we saw with text-to-donate campaigns for Haiti relief. While bringing the use of mobile devices into the nonprofit world is most certainly a positive step, it still must hold up to the standard critiques given to any new method of communication that an organization decides to test when reaching out to its constituents. Here are a few things to mull over as you add SMS to your nonprofit vocabulary.
Deciding how and if
What is the age range of your constituents? Do you have a mobile phone list? Do your donors use text messaging on a regular basis?
Some of the answers to these questions might be accessible by digging into your donor demographics or researching your Twitter following. Other pieces of information that are more specific, like the number of constituents who text, might require a survey or poll. Find out how your constituents feel about mobile texting, and if they prefer it to going directly to your Web site. It's not an easy or inexpensive task to set up a mobile texting campaign, and having this kind of donor information readily accessible will help you to make informed decisions on not only if you should implement text mobile messaging, but how to go about testing it.
Don’t aim for the one-hit wonder
With the success of the Red Cross’ use of mobile giving, your engine might be on high gear to start boldly exploring this new frontier, but be wary not to put all your eggs in one basket. With so many options and mobile tools available, starting with small-scale tests can provide a more customized approach for integrating mobile communication into your marketing mix. Perhaps mobile giving doesn’t resonate well with your donors, and they prefer to go online, but if mobile-alert subscriptions take off like wildfire, then you can build a mobile subscriber list exponentially. Give yourself time to learn the best way for your organization to utilize this form of communication. Invest in (frequent) testing.
It probably won’t happen overnight
Unless you have a big-name celebrity like George Clooney or Justin Timberlake in your back pocket to whip out in the event of an emergency, the likelihood of an overnight surge of donations through a text-to-give campaign is pretty slim. However, the use of mobile for breaking news, announcing volunteered opportunities in a particular area or disseminating other useful information has potential for success, even for those of us who might not have Brad Pitt on speed dial.
Know your goal
Keep in mind that donations are capped at $10 for mobile giving, which is well below the online donation average gift. Using mobile giving as an acquisition tool via other media outlets such as television or events is the way to go. If you make a mobile campaign so prominent while also promoting to your house file, there is the potential that people who would have given $50 on your Web site will only give $10 via their mobile devices.
For more information about the rules and regulations governing mobile marketing, visit the Mobile Marketing Association's Web site.
Christina Johns is senior manager of DRTV and social networking for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.