Proven Mobile Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits in Challenging Times
Proven Mobile Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits in Challenging Times
In April of 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic held our nation to a standstill, the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), South Florida Chapter, decided to refocus fundraising activities to mobile/virtual fundraising. Because families needing lodging and meals for medical procedures and hospital stays do not go away during a pandemic. RMHC South Florida sought alternative ways to fund their budget, which was under threat from the crisis.
Initially, they used social media and influencers to create buzz; and then, peer-to-peer fundraisers and donation pages to raise over $20,000 in a few weeks ($10,000 from a new donor) while providing 70 meals every week for families. These successes earned them a slot at iHeartRadio where they teamed up with two urban music producers to raise funds using Text2Fund®, a text-to-donate software. It was their first time using the software, and the results were impressive.
But RMHC's story isn't unique. In recent months, mobile has enjoyed rapid acceptance among nonprofits, even the slow adopters. When Covid-19 forced their donors to stay home, several turned to the alternative — virtual fundraising, which works well with mobile. In fact, the Nonprofit Source reports; 51% of people visit a nonprofit’s website through a mobile device, 25% of donors use mobile to discover nonprofits they were previously unaware of, and 25% of donations are completed on mobile.
Many of these nonprofits - for example, The St. John Paul II Catholic Schools, Fargo, North Dakota; The Boys and Girls Clubs of Whatcom County; and Kara - triumphed at mobile/virtual fundraising. And, you can too. That's why in this blog, we'll be sharing the proven ways to win at mobile fundraising, during, and after the pandemic.
Tip 1: Be Strategic
Who are your donors? Are they mostly Baby boomers or Millenials? Are they tech-savvy? Do they regularly use Gmail or Facebook? How much are you willing to invest in a mobile fundraising campaign?
You must know the answers to these questions, and more, to succeed. If possible, collect and analyze data of your donors' mobile behavior through behavioral analysis — keyword research tools or website analytics — and surveys — polls or questionnaires.
When collecting data, prioritize behavioral analysis over surveys. Behavioral analysis records what your donors actually do, information that's usually true and hard to fake. Surveys, on the other hand, record what your donors say about their behavior and preferences. They're unreliable because donors may answer wrongly.
Use the data when planning for the next fundraiser — virtual, in-person, hybrid; peer-to-peer, events, auctions; regional, national, or international. After all, mobile is suited for almost any type of fundraising. All your donors need is a phone.
Being strategic means starting with your donors. It means letting your donors determine your decisions. You must walk in their moccasins until you can think as they do. Don't invest in what they don't like. For example, you shouldn't run Facebook Ads inviting donors to your virtual auction if they don't have Facebook accounts.
If you are not sure, consult with other nonprofits in your region or industry that have succeeded with mobile. Many will be happy to share actionable tips with you. If possible, test what they've told you to see if it works for you too.
Know your donors.
- Prepare your mobile fundraising objective.
- Estimate the financial costs.
- Estimate the HR costs — will there be new employees or freelancers?
- Decide on how you'll integrate mobile with other forms of communication — direct mail, TV, Radio, etc. For example, can you use QR codes in your direct mail fundraising letters?
Tip 2: Play with New Ideas
Mobile fundraising is fun. With it, you can create unforgettable memories for your community. You don't need a Hollywood budget to produce and stream an emotional reel for a virtual documentary night. And your 5k races and dinner nights can have lots of laughter online.
Your only limits are in your head. You can choose to host a peer-to-peer campaign, an online gala, a golf tournament, etc. that's optimized for the mobile web. Even when you're restricted by a thin budget, you can still create a lasting impact. There are zero geographic bounds to increase awareness for your mission with mobile fundraising.
You have the power to reach beyond your subscribers to acquire new donors. You can choose to collect bids or donations through text message or donation pages. You can also add mobile pledges or restrict donations to direct payments. It depends on what your donor data says, and how you choose to use it.
How do you choose a mobile fundraising idea? Start from here:
- What's worked for your donors before, and why. Can it be done for a mobile audience?
- Recommendations and corrections from donors in past events.
- The cost of implementing the mobile fundraising idea — some ideas are cheaper than others.
- The timeline of the mobile event — should it be longer or shorter?
- Are additional resources required? Can the nonprofit afford new hires?
- Let's experiment? Feel free to test it first.
Tip 3: Choose the Right Software Early
Make sure your fundraising software meets all your fundraising requirements. An All-in-One, Fundraising and Donor Relationship Management Solution will reduce the time your organization spends processing funds raised and thanking donors.
What to Consider for your Mobile Fundraising Software solution:
- Customizable features so that you can maximize all your virtual opportunities
- Sponsorship features so that you can retain and attract new sponsors
- Reliable technical support so you can spend your time doing meaningful work, not learning the software or fixing bugs
- Comprehensive reporting so that you can improve your campaign in real-time, and host better mobile events in the future
- Integration with other helpful mobile solutions, for example, payment solutions or a matching gift software
- Easy to learn and use
Tip 4: Win at Content Marketing
Do your donors use emails, social media, or online forums? Do they search Google for answers to pressing questions? Do they comment and share content that they like?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you can benefit from content marketing. Content marketing involves publishing and distributing valuable content to your audience (donors, board members, beneficiaries, constituents) consistently. When done properly, it wins the attention and trust of your community, motivates donors to give more, and creates good PR.
But if you think that content marketing is a waste of effort, you won't be alone. For some fundraisers, content marketing is simply throwing water into a basket — it takes time, effort, commitment, resources, and yet, doesn't bring good results quickly. What's worse? Fundraisers want to get the results now! But content marketing can still boost your mobile fundraising in the short term. With a few really good blog posts or videos, you can inspire current donors to give more and increase event sponsorships.
As Dan Norris, a serial entrepreneur reveals in his book, The Content Machine, his company Black Hops Brewing created, "...a bunch of simple posts about how we make the beer, our plans to set up a brewery, and other similar “behind-the-scenes” knowledge topics... In the first few months of the blog, we’ve been featured on all the main craft beer blogs and in local papers, and we’ve received four investment offers to build our own brewer."
In the long term, great content can attract new donors through mobile search engine results while keeping the existing community happy. But what is great content? Let's listen to Norris again: "(The world’s best content marketers) don’t simply create content. They create content for a certain community of people, and they do it better with a unique angle so they get noticed. Remember, you want the thing you do differently to be something your customers care enough about to talk about. This aspect of differentiation is the biggest opportunity for content marketers."
How to Proceed:
- Define your content marketing goals. You should have both fundraising and marketing goals. For example, a fundraising goal may to inspire more giving at your virtual auction with a special two hour video exposé on the state of the industry.
- Identify what's unique about your nonprofit. Why do donors support you? What's special about how you solve problems? Your unique traits should guide your content's tone, vision, and direction.
- Study the best blogs in your industry to know which types of content already resonate with your audience. Do this by searching Google for answers to pressing industry issues. Then, study the top search results.
- Have a clear picture of your target audience. Will you be creating content for your donors, prospects, board members, or media influencers? Once you know your audience, find out where they visit online so that you can share your content in these places.
- Determine what will make your content different. Will your blog posts be longer than others? Will you publish video interviews with controversial people? Will you add humor to your podcasts? If possible, try something that's not been done before.
- Generate content ideas for the next 3 months. Find out what it'll cost in terms of time, money and staff.
- Create a content promotion plan. You can write free posts for other blogs where you audience hang out, share your content on social media, or email.
- Create a content analysis plan so that you can constantly improve your efforts.
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