When we were growing Artez Interactive in the early 2000s, we didn’t call it “P2P.” We called it “online event management solutions” or “online solutions for pledge-based special events.” Some of us had noticed that nonprofits gained a lot of their annual support through these pledge-based special events, and many were still using paper pledge forms to walk around and ask for donations.
There was a huge amount of effort required to collect all that paper, enter all that information and make sure the funds were stored in a secure place. We worked with clients who, on event day, would have tens of thousands of dollars of cash stashed in cardboard boxes at the starting line tent.
The world was simpler then. People communicated online mainly via email. Our computers had large screens, and we used keyboards and mouses to navigate. It was a big deal when we started encouraging online fundraisers to upload their own personal photos to make their online fundraising pages more personal.
The world has changed significantly since then, particularly when it comes to communications technology. But, in my opinion, many of the P2P technology solutions have remained relatively similar to those we were building 15 years ago. The frosting has changed, but it’s sitting on top of the same cake.
It shouldn’t come as a shocker that the big P2P technology story in the recent past was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This charity campaign used a technology infrastructure that was contemporary and not designed specifically for nonprofits: namely Facebook and YouTube. To summarize the technology combination in three words: social, mobile, video.
Of course, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had challenges of its own. Many who participated did not donate and complete their pledges. Many others did not leave data sufficient to allow for follow-up. But it illustrates that the winning technology tools for tomorrow’s P2P may not be what many of us are using today.
This creates challenges. How far can you push your existing P2P technology platform? Was it designed for an email era, and is it now falling down in social media? Was it designed for big screens, and is it painful on a smartphone?
This also creates opportunities for fundraising teams willing to experiment. How can you better work social, mobile and video into your P2P plans next year? Are you able to stretch your existing P2P platform by supplementing with Facebook and YouTube, for example?
In my column last month, I started to describe the “mobile-first” approach that many leading technologists are adopting. Let’s apply this strategic framework to P2P technology. What would a mobile-first experience feel like for an event registrant of a pledge-based campaign in 2016?
To begin to answer this question, get your hands dirty and try to register yourself for your own event using your smartphone. Remember that you have the advantage of being somewhat familiar with this event. Many of your actual registrants may be having their first interactions with your website and your brand via this smartphone registration process.
How long did it take you to register? How many questions did you have to tap in with your thumbs? Was the navigation easy and intuitive?
Now compare your smartphone registration experience with the next generation of mobile-first registrations. Again, using only your smartphone, register a new account on Amazon. Next, go set up an account on Netflix. How long does it take you to create a new account on Snapchat? If you perceive differences between your mobile-registration experience and those of Amazon, Netflix and Snapchat, you may have a problem.