How Mobile Fundraising Technology Helps Nonprofits Fundraise Better
Nonprofits have been increasingly seeking out mobile fundraising technology companies to: conduct live auctions with text notifications for auction winners; allow for mobile payments at event check-out; send texts inviting guests to increase their offer when they are being outbid in an auction; save volunteers from conducting telephone outreach or tracking mailed RSVPs by transferring event invitations, ticket sales and registrations to an automated platform; and free nonprofit staffers from doing hours of post-event analysis by offering real time event checkout results. To better understand how these services actually help nonprofits fundraise and to learn how they might be applicable to your own nonprofit, it can be helpful to examine some real world examples.
Case Study No. 1: Make-a-Wish Colorado
Make-a-Wish Colorado is a nonprofit that helps seriously ill children by making their dreams a reality—whether it is a visit from a celebrity, a special vacation or an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Prior to the use of a mobile bidding company, from 2014 through 2017, Make-a-Wish Colorado donors were so busy coveting their desired auction items that they had no time to interface with famous athlete attendees and other guests. Additionally, fundraising event checkouts became cumbersome, time-consuming and confusing with the use of reams of printed-paper receipts.
Make-a-Wish Colorado first tried a text-to-bid option at a “Sporting Affair” event in which they saw a 45 percent jump in auction revenue. Guests reported enjoying themselves more as they were able to interact with professional athletes. When guests were outbid, a text alerted them, so that they could immediately increase their bid. An auto-bid feature allowed guests to set a maximum bid amount and the technology would automatically continue to counter bid up to that predetermined cap.
The fundraising technology eliminated the need for paper receipts, helping to expedite the event checkout process. Instead, guests paid by phone and received an email “receipt,” keeping things simple and environmentally friendly.
Board members were also able to add items to the silent auction via cell phone as the event was already in progress. Embracing these fundraising technology features, Make-a-Wish Colorado was able to raise nearly $771,000 over eight campaigns from 2014 through 2017.
Case Study No. 2: Cancer Kiss My Cooley
An Illinois-based children’s cancer charity called Cancer Kiss My Cooley (KCMC)—Cooley is slang for one’s rear end used by the young child who lost their cancer battle—also struggled with event bottlenecks. Lengthy event registrations and checkout lines prevented donors from enjoying the entertainment, and long checkout lines tried their patience after a night of such generous giving. With fundraising technology, guests had the option to pre-register for the event, entering their contact and credit card information on their phones beforehand, thereby avoiding lines at the event itself. Guests also had the ability to check themselves out via their mobile phones. Only auction item winners needed to physically check out, so that they could claim their item to take home.
Event updates and changes were also disseminated easily via text—for example, closing the raffle portion of an event early or keeping a silent auction open later could all be communicated without disrupting the event’s music or a compelling speaker.
CKMC had difficulty keeping records of who paid and who had not and with keeping statistics that could inform decisions about future fundraising events. However, with mobile fundraising technology, CKMC was able to view a dashboard of money collected, money due and types of payment received.
Some fundraising technology companies even offer help with seating management by assigning paid attendees to their dinner tables. The table number appears next to their name upon check-in, so that on-site fundraising tech company reps could direct them to their seat.
Events can be a great way for charities to laud their successes, find new patrons and volunteers and increase existing donor commitment. However, such soirees are not without their pain points. Thankfully, over the past several years, mobile bidding/ fundraising tech companies have taken away some of their traditional inconveniences yielding more dollars for great causes and a better experience for everyone involved.
Brandon Stec, director of marketing of GiveSmart by Community Brands, the leading provider of cloud-based software to associations, nonprofits, K-12 schools and faith-based groups.
Brandon is an Indiana University graduate who spent nine years in the sports industry until transitioning into the technology world. Brandon sits on the board of the Chicago Chapter of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; is a former candidate for Man of the Year; and is personally engaged in supporting nonprofits, including AFP, BBYO, Jewish United Federation and Lincoln Park Zoo.