Getting Started with Mobile Fundraising – A Beginner’s Guide

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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re curious about mobile fundraising and how you can get started with your own campaign.

First things first, what exactly is mobile fundraising?

More than just text-to-give, mobile fundraising is any means of raising money that can be done on a mobile device (i.e., a smartphone or tablet).

Mobile giving/mobile fundraising includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Texting to give.
  • Mobile email fundraising.
  • QR code promotions.
  • Mobile donation pages.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Mobile pledging.
  • Social media fundraising.
  • Fundraising apps.
  • And more!

In this article, we will explore the basic steps you’ll need to take to get started with a successful mobile giving campaign.

Here’s a quick sneak peek of the steps:

#1. Ask the Proper Questions.
#2. Work Out Technical Glitches.
#3. Update Donor Contact Info.
#4. Look into Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.
#5. Clearly Define Your Mobile Fundraising Goals.
#6. Market! Market! Market!
#7. Track Key Metrics and Improve.
#8. Show Your Gratitude in a Multitude of Ways!

What are we waiting for? Let’s get going!

#1. Ask the Proper Questions.

If this is your first rodeo–or your first mobile fundraising campaign–the first step you need to take is asking yourself four crucial questions.

You’ll need to figure out the “Who,” “What,” “When,” and “Where” of it all.

Before you can perfect your strategy for asking for donations via mobile, dive into these queries:
WHO:
The first essential question you must ask of your organization is, “Who will be in charge?”

Answers to this inquiry will naturally differ, depending on the state of your nonprofit. If you have ample staff, then you may consider reallocating some existing team members to the mobile giving campaign team.

If you’re in the right position to hire new staff members, you might consider hiring on someone with mobile fundraising experience.

In either case, a campaign of any kind, mobile or otherwise, is only as successful as the people behind it.
WHAT:
This is the crux of your entire campaign: “What is the purpose behind this mobile campaign?”

Perhaps you’re a nonprofit that’s looking to expand your existing efforts on a specific fundraising campaign.

Or maybe, you’re interested in mobile fundraising as a general way to boost your everyday fundraising.

The other “What” you’ll need to consider is: “What kind of mobile fundraising is best for our constituents?”

Not every form of giving is ideal for every donor–or every organization, for that matter. Before you commit to any one avenue, take time to assess the best route for your donors.
WHEN:
As you begin to plan your mobile giving campaign, it’s key to think in terms of when everything is going to occur.

“When should the launch be?”

“How long should the transition from traditional fundraising to modern fundraising take?”

“Should there be a designated end date?”

“Should this become a standard way for donors to give?”

The list goes on.

But the point remains the same: figuring out a timeline for your mobile giving strategy is a must.
WHERE:
As a final point in your preparation, you should consider: “Where will the announcement be made?” “Where will advertisements be posted?”

Many nonprofits choose to make live fundraising events the launch of their mobile campaigns.

If you’re looking for ideas for events that would pair nicely with a launch, look no further than @Pay’s list of over 100 ideas.

Takeaway: There are several preparatory questions your organization must ask before delving head-first into the wondrous world of mobile giving. Chief among those questions is: “What is the purpose behind these efforts?”

#2. Work Out Technical Glitches.

The second step in launching a successful mobile giving campaign involves making sure that you’re mobile-ready.

Of course, by this point, you will have selected a mobile giving platform provider that fits your needs. Your answers from step one will have brought you to this decision.

Now that you have the tech, it’s time to work out the kinks.

There are a few ways you can make sure that your mobile fundraising software is functioning as it should. You can:

#1. Enlist the help of your board members to test it out.
#2. Run a test on a small sample of your donors.
#3. Conduct a beta test on a slightly larger sample size.

Look for such issues as:

  • Mobile donation pages not loading properly.
  • Emails not displaying in an ideal way for mobile.
  • Your mobile website not behaving responsively.

Should you encounter any glitches during any of the three phases of testing, then it might be time to get in contact with your service provider.

It’s important to remember that there are also some simple ways to recharge your fundraising mojo as you’re figuring out any technical glitches with your mobile giving campaign.

If, however, your test runs go smoothly (and there’s no reason they shouldn’t), then you’re ready for the next step in your mobile fundraising journey.

Takeaway: Technical glitches, though few and far between, should be worked out before your launch so that they don’t hold any of your donors back from giving.

#3. Update Donor Contact Info.

Once you’ve established that your mobile giving software is in perfect condition, it’s time to tidy up your donor data.

By no means does it have to be spotless, but it should definitely not be outdated.

How do you go about cleaning up your donor list?

Well, for starters, you can look into segmenting your donors.

Check out your database. Segment your donors into three categories:

Who gave 0% of your total funds in the past 2 years?
Who gave 10% in the past 2 years?
Who gave 90% in the past 2 years?

Obviously, you can get rid of the first segment’s information, as they’re least likely to give again.

As for the second group, you can strategize ways to improve your stewardship toward them and warm them up to your organization.

The third group represents your most loyal donors. You will want to further segment them by average gift size.

After you’ve narrowed your focus and rid your database of inactive donors, you can consult services such as the National Change of Address (NCOA) to make sure you have up-to-date home addresses for your loyal supporters.

When it comes to email addresses, many people have several that they rotate through.

Make sure you reach out to your donors and ask them which email they prefer to use.

Get rid of any duplicates or extras.

In addition to verifying existing data, you should also be looking into ways to capture and incorporate any new data you’re sure to encounter.

There are manual ways to do this, but they’re fairly tedious. The ideal situation involves a mobile fundraising platform that provides information capture as a standard feature.

Information capture is a feature of mobile giving that allows nonprofits to collect new donor data without having to manually input it.

Say that you have several new donors text to donate. The moment they hit “Send” and submit their donations, the mobile giving software should automatically file away such information as:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Donation amount
  • Time and date of donation

Depending on the information that you ask for in your required donation page fields, you may end up with more donor data.

In any case, this data should be easily exportable.

Takeaway: Updating your donors’ contact info and making sure that you have a system in place for capturing new, accurate data are crucial components for running a successful mobile giving campaign.

#4. Look into Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.

One of the absolute best ways to launch a mobile fundraiser the right way is to enlist the help of your existing donors.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is an incredible way to leverage your existing donors to grow your base and spread the word about your campaign organically.

Getting the stamp of approval from your donors is a surefire way to convince other potential prospects that your cause is worth giving to–and that mobile is the way to go!

So how do you get started with a peer-to-peer campaign within your mobile fundraising strategy?

Here are the basic steps:

#1. Choose your champions.

Look for people who not only care about your organization but also have sway within the community. That could mean local politicians or hometown celebrities. Anyone whose endorsement would be well-received.

You might also want to reach out to your most involved donors and have them in turn reach out to their personal social networks. Word-of-mouth is still the best way to disseminate information, even in our tech-centric world.

Choosing the right champion can make all the difference.

For example, philanthropist and Denver-based businessman, Lloyd Claycomb is more than a major donor, he and his wife host events and advocate for autism education and awareness. Learn more about the difference your nonprofit’s champions can make by clicking here.

#2. Give them the tools they need.

With your champions gathered, you’ll need to gather and distribute the necessary “tools.”

Tools like:

  • Pre-written copy for posts.
  • Information about your organization and cause.
  • Campaign goals and strategies.
  • A suggested posting calendar.
  • Branded photos and videos.
  • And more!

Having those elements will make it infinitely easier for your participants to fundraise on your behalf.

#3. Keep in contact and offer support.

The key to a successful peer-to-peer effort is to make sure that your champions know that you’re there for them if they have questions or concerns.

You can send out periodic communications to let them know that they can reach out at any time. Keep them apprised of your own progress throughout the rest of the campaign as well.

#4. Collect the funds raised.

Collecting the funds that your peer-to-peer participants raised should be easy thanks to the nature of mobile giving technology.

The moment that a donor gives to your mobile campaign, you’ll be sure to know and be able to access those funds shortly thereafter.

#5. Thank your supporters.

Thanking your supporters is an art. Perfect it by showing your gratitude in various ways. One unique way to show your appreciation is to offer incentives for participation.

If you properly thank your supporters, you’re bound to have substantial success once you’ve launched your full-fledged campaign. Word travels fast, and people love to be appreciated!

There you have it: the concrete steps to running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign as it pertains to your mobile fundraiser.

Takeaway: Looking into peer-to-peer fundraising as one of your first steps to launching your campaign is a fantastic way to leverage your existing supporters and expand your network of donors before the actual launch.

#5. Clearly Define Your Mobile Fundraising Goals.

You likely set a goal within your organization well before you started doing anything else.

And rightly so! Goals are the cornerstone of any great fundraising campaign.

But just because you have an internal goal for your mobile fundraiser, it doesn’t mean that that will translate well into donor engagement.

People want to support a cause that they feel produces real, tangible results with their funds. Which you can do!

How so?

By clearly defining your fundraising objectives! Not just for yourselves, but for your donors.

If you’re a church or a hospital, and you’re familiar with the concept of capital campaigns, you know that the most successful campaigns are driven by concrete goals.

For instance, let’s say that you’re a church looking to raise money via mobile. You set a general goal to raise as much as you possibly can. But of course, that doesn’t really entice donors to give.

You hit rewind and decide instead to set a realistic goal of $10,000 to go toward expanding your church’s atrium. Now people have something that they can visualize. A number they can conceptualize. And something tangible that they can feel that they’ve helped to build.

Now that’s not to say that you always have to build a building to drive engagement.

But the principle behind the example holds true: when people feel like they’re helping reach a tangible, realistic, clearly defined goal, they are far more inclined to give.

Takeaway: Having a clearly defined goal (one that your donors can grab onto) for your mobile fundraiser is one guaranteed way to boost your success.

#6. Market! Market! Market!

One of the final steps in actually launching your mobile fundraiser is to market, market, market!

Marketing a mobile fundraiser will look different for every nonprofit.

Some nonprofits will choose to go the more traditional route and employ:

  • Direct mail appeals.
  • Phone calls.
  • Flyers.

Still others will opt for some funkier alternatives:

  • T-shirts.
  • Billboards.
  • Announcements at events.

And yet others will elect to go the mobile way:

  • Mobile email.
  • Social media.
  • Announcements on websites.

There’s no right or wrong way to market a mobile fundraising campaign. If it works for your organization, then it works.

Of course, there are best practices within each of these methods of raising awareness.

But as a general rule, here is some guidance for anyone who’s never hosted a mobile fundraiser before. You’ll want to have your existing donors:

  • Add your organization’s number to their phones. Include this information in all of your correspondences so that donors know how to reach out to you, text to donate, and more.
  • Mark the emails from your address as “important.” Nothing’s worse than being filed away into the junk folder. Make sure that it doesn’t happen to you by having donors categorize your emails as relevant.
  • Bookmark your nonprofit’s website. That way they can keep tabs on any pertinent updates to your campaign.

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Takeaway: One of the most important steps to launching a mobile giving campaign is marketing. There are dozens of different avenues to accomplish this goal, but one thing remains consistent: you have to get the word out!

#7. Track Key Metrics and Improve.

When you’re in the midst of running a mobile giving campaign, it can be easy to get caught up in the pace of the fundraiser.

Everything happens so quickly.

Which is spectacular, but can also lead to many organizations forgetting to keep tabs on their progress.

But as with any other fundraising venture, if it’s going to be successful long-term, it needs to be monitored closely.

Luckily, this monitoring can be factored into the day-to-day of your campaign. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking.

To keep track of your progress, some of the metrics you’ll want to keep tabs on are:

  • Donor retention rate.

This is a great metric to track with regard to mobile fundraising. The simple fact is: mobile giving has been shown to increase donor retention significantly.

Why is that? Well, it has to do with the fact that donating on a mobile device is easy, convenient, and quick. When giving is easy to do, donors are more inclined to give more than once.

Track your donor retention rate by comparing your donors year-over-year.

  • Donor growth rate.

If you’re doing everything right, you should be seeing growth in the number of donors to your organization over time.

Likely, if you’re employing peer-to-peer fundraising tactics, you’ll notice that your numbers are increasing almost exponentially.

This stems from the fact that each “champion” you enlist knows at least a few viable prospects, and those people, in all likelihood, tell their friends and family about your cause.

It’s a true domino effect.

  • Conversion rate.

Conversion rate can refer to a number of different things. With tracking conversion rate, you can look at any given actionable item and compare how many people completed said action.

To put it simply, you can track the conversion rate of a mobile email by comparing how many people received that mobile email with how many people performed the action (donating).

You can do this for any given action, as long as there’s a clear action (donating, signing up for an event, etc.) to track.

  • Frequency of contact.

In order to track this key metric, your organization will need to be storing data about your interactions with donors on a consistent basis.

A great relationship with your donors depends on having the right amount of contact. Too much, and you’ll bother them. Too little, and they won’t feel communicated with.

When you’re tracking your progress, be sure to pay attention to how often you’re reaching out to your donors (and how often they’re engaging). Improve your outreach strategies accordingly.

  • Email opt-out rate.

Very much tied to the frequency of contact metric, email opt-out rate typically has to do with how often a nonprofit sends emails.

It’s important to track opt-out rate early and often so that you know exactly what works and what doesn’t before too many people hit “Unsubscribe.”

  • Participation rate.

Especially if you’re employing peer-to-peer fundraising tactics as a part of your mobile fundraiser, you’ll want to track fundraiser participation rate.

This means that you’re checking that not only are your supporters donating themselves, but that they’re also raising money on your behalf.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to keep track of all of these metrics, nor are these the only metrics that you can or should track.

What you keep an eye on is entirely up to you.

It’s all about focusing on the areas where you’d like to see growth and improvement.

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Takeaway: A key part of running a great mobile giving campaign is continually tracking important metrics and making adjustments accordingly along the way.

#8. Show Your Gratitude in a Multitude of Ways!

This final step should be a given, but you might be surprised by how many organizations fall short when it comes to acknowledgements.

It’s doubly puzzling when you consider that acknowledgements play a major role in donor growth and donor retention. Donors who feel appreciated are more likely to give more than once.

As far as how you thank those donors, there’s no limit to how creative you can be.

Take, for example, this adorable appreciation video.

It’s simple, sweet, heartfelt, and out-of-the-box!

Your organization can craft a video thank-you like that one, or you can:

  • Make a post on social media that highlights a particular donor.
  • Send out personalized thank-you letters.
  • Call and thank select donors (calling everyone who donates via mobile might be a bit much!).
  • Send thoughtful thank-you emails.
  • Give mobile donors a shout-out at your next live fundraising event.

This, of course, is all in addition to thanking your donors as soon as they give. Most top-notch mobile giving platforms will give nonprofits the option to send out immediate “Thank you” messages, like the one below:

text101

A quick text or email is not enough to show donors that you care. Reach out in more than one way to make sure that they know how important they are to your organization.

Because, at the end of the day, where would you be without them?

Takeaway: Thanking your mobile donors in multiple ways is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the key to donor retention.

Now that you’ve read through all 8 steps to launching your own mobile giving campaign, we hope that you now feel better prepared to tackle the challenge.

Don’t just sit there! It’s time to get out there and go mobile. You’re good to go!

About the author

Wauker Matthews is Director of Sales at @Pay, an exciting new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to give in just a few clicks from text, email, web and social media. Wauker has been in brand & business development for over 8 years, helping organizations grow in both size and reach.