Why Mobile Giving Works
In my conversations with nonprofits about the importance of seeking smaller donations through mobile phones, I usually point out two pieces of data. One, studies (Wegant and Smith, 1987) have shown that asking for "just a penny" yields better results than asking for larger donations. The second point is one more centered on mobile, and that is Dell and Five Guys (think burgers and fries) see 25 percent higher receipts on mobile vs. their PC sites. Let's take a look at these a little bit deeper and see if we can find what's going on.
For the first point of smaller donations making a difference in total fundraising and participation of donors, there is something called "legitimized paltry donation" (LPD). This term was created to describe the fact that the cause or organization itself is telling the donor, "It's OK to make a small donation; we appreciate it, and we don't see you as being 'cheap.'"
From the report: “Asking for small donations increases the likelihood of receiving a donation. More money can be raised by actually asking for less.”
The authors say the LPD approach allows donors to give what they can without having to feel bad about being seen as cheap or uncaring. The study points out that the participation rate goes up using the LPD approach of asking for "even just a penny." This is a good thing when you need to cultivate new donors and raise their lifetime value to your cause.
The second point about higher receipt values is something that many are now coming to see and something that I have seen in my career in mobile Internet services like TV, video and music: the notion that the mobile phone is the most impulsive device known to man.
Your mobile phone is always in your hand or nearby. It's the first screen you check in the morning and the last screen you check before you go to bed. When presented with the chance to buy something on your phone and to do it quickly, you likely will act impulsively and spend more than you intended.
Both these points combine to shine a bright light on the potential of asking for small, LPD-style donations and doing so on your supporters' mobile phones.
If you make it easy for them to show they care by asking for small donations and you do so via their most impulsive personal possessions — their mobile phones — like the study says, you may end up with more money than you thought you could ever get.
Go ahead. Go mobile, and ask for small donations. Tap in to donors' desire to show they care. Your fundraising future will be much brighter if you do.