Resolutions, Reminders and the Mobile Revolution
If you’re like most people, you probably made a New Year’s resolution to be healthier — quit smoking … eat less … exercise more. (We hope you’ve stuck with all or part of those resolutions at this stage too!)
Perhaps you joined a gym to help you accomplish those aspirations. And, presumably you entered the gym at least once (to sign up?). While you were there, you likely noticed (and maybe used?) the equipment: recumbent bikes … elliptical machines … dreadmills (no that’s not a typo) … StairMasters … you get the idea!
Anyway, the point is there isn’t one type of machine there to exercise on. Why? Because not only are certain individuals partial to certain types of exercise, but there are even people who like to use different pieces of equipment at different times.
Direct-response fundraising isn’t too much different. Your donors like to give to you — you know this because they already have. And you should remember that when they want to give to you, you should make sure they have the right equipment available to do so. Whether that is a donation form that prepopulates when they click on a link in their e-mail or a direct-mail piece that shows up reminding them to give with a compelling message, the point is that donors don’t want to be restricted to giving the way you want them to give. Rather, they should be able to give the way they want to give — at the time they want to give. More importantly, perhaps by having all these different types of tools, you’ll attract more new donors as well.
Getting fit in 2013?
So, how is the health of your direct-response program? Did you resolve to get your fundraising operation in better shape in 2013? What does your equipment look like? Are you offering your donors choices? Giving them the avenues to achieve their philanthropic goals? As the savvy fundraiser that you are, you’ve likely optimized your online donation forms and website (good job), strategically segmented your direct mail (are you moving beyond “one-size-fits-all”?) and are working hard to better integrate your data for 2013 (we know — this is a tough one!).
What about mobile? Do you own a smartphone? Nearly half of the adult population in the U.S. does, according to several sources. And that means nearly all of them check their e-mail on their phones. The growth in the number of smartphone and tablet users who read e-mail on their mobile devices is substantial — more than 50 percent in 2012 alone, according to Litmus.
By the end of 2012, 43 percent of e-mails were opened on mobile devices. And that figure is projected to grow to nearly 80 percent in the next four years. Per a study from TailoredMail, men open 20 percent more e-mails on mobile, but women click 10 percent more often on mobile e-mail — a good sign for charities with female-dominated donor bases.
With our nonprofit clients, we find 30 percent to 50 percent of opens on mobile devices are typical — and these are growing quickly. Donations via mobile are much lower still, but this area is growing, too. (And growing faster for those who’ve mobile optimized their donation forms. Hint, hint!)
Ready for mobile?
So, are your e-mails mobile-optimized? How about your donation forms? Since, according to comScore, four out of five smartphone owners have used their phones to shop — via an app, an online store or with a virtual wallet — it’s only a matter of time before mobile phones become a powerful donation tool too — and not just for text-to-give campaigns! (Anyone care to share how much of your year-end fundraising came in via mobile? E-mail us!)
Mobile can be a great platform for engaging with your donors (and constituents) too: reminding them to take action (or give) via text, giving them updates on event logistics, registering votes in an insta-poll, and bonding them to your work with an app (like the cool hiking app from the American Hiking Society) or making them aware of your footprint (like the YMCA Finder app). That’s another column though. But if you are looking for info on developing an app, you can start here.
In the meantime, as fundraisers, we’ve always wanted to be where our donors are when the urge to give strikes their fancy. (Gym owners figured out that they want to be where their members are too! Why do you think some gyms are open 24 hours a day?) Now, with mobile devices never being more than a few feet from their owners, we can be. And, with time and a better understanding of new pools of donor prospects, we can add to our donor files, too!
Karin Kirchoff is vice president at MINDset direct. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeff Regen is general manager of the nonprofit group at Merkle. Reach him at email@example.com