Nov 29 2016

3 Approaches to Deploying a Mobile Fundraising Campaign

Mobile donations are on the rise, but nonprofits have a choice when it comes to app deployment.

Technology is a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations. A 2016 Digital Outlook Report from the Nonprofit Technology Network indicates that nonprofits spend only about 10 to 20 percent of their overall fundraising budget on digital strategy.

This technology push occurs along three axes: mobile Point of Sale solutions that streamline fundraising and fulfillment, mobile apps that help nonprofits forge deeper and more durable relationships with givers, and fundraising management software that enables organizations to gather, analyze and act on data. Together, these platforms have a transformative effect on fundraising.

Mobile apps are emerging as an important channel. A 2015 study by nonprofit news outlet npENGAGE found that mobile donations to nonprofits increased by 45 percent from 2014 to 2015. Mobile apps cultivate more durable relationships between donors and nonprofits — the kind that produce larger gifts and repeat giving. These apps let users access their giving history and information, make donations, and link to others via contact lists and social media integration.

Connecting Donors and Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations have long recognized the value of phone-based donations. A 2016 study by fundraising research firm Dunham+Company finds that the use of mobile devices by donors to charity websites increased by 80 percent from 2013 to 2015.

Many organizations have accommodated mobile giving through deployment of responsive websites, which automatically arrange themselves for best viewing on the display of the user device, from large PC monitors to compact smartphone screens. These nimble site designs provide a more welcoming experience for mobile donors, and benefit from the emphasis Google Search places on mobile-friendly sites.

Driving donations from smartphones and tablets is one thing — leveraging those devices to create more durable relationships with donors is something else. With slick interfaces and robust functionality, mobile apps provide a comprehensive user experience that spans gift giving, event registration, social media integration and a host of other activities. With multiple mobile platforms to support — including Apple iOS, Google Android and Windowspowered tablets — organizations face a choice:

  1. Develop native mobile apps that are fine-tuned for each platform and deliver the most robust and compelling user experience. This approach offers the highest levels of functionality, performance and customization. However, the effort to write and maintain multiple apps can be both expensive and time-consuming.

  2. Develop hybrid, web-based apps that offer broad compatibility across platforms, allowing a single code base to address all devices. Hybrid development tools are used to package web apps so that they can be distributed via device app stores and run like native apps (rather than in a mobile browser). This reduces workload, but yields a less sophisticated user experience.

  3. Employ established mobile apps for fundraising. This approach enables nonprofits to work with proven mobile app platforms, and avoid investments into code development and maintenance. Opportunities to customize the mobile app environment may be limited, and software updates are handled by the vendor.

The decision on mobile app deployment should be made in the context of the broader software environment. Mobile apps must integrate with back-end systems, including fundraising campaign software and CRM solutions. Mobile apps also have a role to play internally, providing staff members with tools to better manage the responsibilities and logistics of fundraising.

Download the free white paper, "A Technology Boost for Fundraising," to learn more about how nonprofits can increase engagement and donations.