Mobile Fundraising: 5 Ways to Use Mobile to Get More Out of Your Fundraising Efforts

August 25 2015

By 2020, 90 percent of the world’s population over six years old will have a mobile phone. Of all those mobile phones, 6.1 billion are expected to be smartphones according to research done by Ericsson. Mobile phones are here to stay and they follow people wherever they go. More people are turning to their smartphones to do their business, shopping, and donating than on their desktops. As you are planning your event and doing your fundraising year round, how can you utilize mobile devices to get more out of your fundraising efforts?

1. Tap into Millennials.

The word “millennial” should be music to nonprofits ears. Last year, 84% of millennial employees made a charitable donation. Dubbed as the “Giving Generation,” millennials spend hours volunteering and donate hard earned dollars to charities and nonprofit organizations each year. To get more out of your mobile fundraising efforts, you need connect with millennials and understand how and why they donate.

Millennials aren’t influenced to donate and give service through their employers the same way other generations were. Instead, millennials are influenced by their peers into volunteering or giving to meaningful causes. Instead of following the old corporate structure of social responsibility, millennials are taking their own time to research topics and causes that are interesting and important to them. To tap into millennials, you will have to make your website mobile friendly, easy to use, and to the point because most millennials do research about your nonprofit on their phone before deciding to invest in your vision. Millennials are donating to charitable causes at high rates, and the majority of the 84 percent that donated gave gifts larger than $100. Having entered the workforce during the low of the recession, many millennials are still becoming financially stable, so you may have to get many donations of smaller amounts. Millennials also donate to companies that they are passionate about. As a nonprofit, your passion must match and be in tune with that of millennials.


Image from 2015 The Millennial Impact Report


2. Make your website mobile friendly.  

The mandate to make your website mobile friendly isn’t anything new as this trend has been taking place over the last eight years. However, it is becoming more and more essential to your nonprofit and to your mobile fundraising efforts. If your website isn’t up to par, your donations will decrease. But what exactly does it mean to make your website mobile friendly?

  1. Your page needs to load in under five seconds. From research done by MobileCause, the average person will not wait longer than five seconds for your site to load on their mobile device. If your website takes longer than five seconds to load on smartphones, you are going to lose many potential mobile donors. To make your load speed faster you will want to:
    • Optimize your images. Often images are large files, so shrinking them down can reduce load time on your page. Check out Kraken or Compressnow to optimize your images for you and increase your page speed. If you use Wordpress, you can install plugins such as or EWWW Image Optimizer which will optimize your images as you load them.

    • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold-content. Go here to read how to do this for WordPress or follow this helpful page from Google with instructions.

    • Leverage Browser Caching. Browser caching stores webpage resource files on a local computer when a user visits a website. When you leverage it, a webmaster has instructed browsers how their resources should be handled. Look at the link in this paragraph and follow the instructions to leverage browser caching.

    • Enable Compression. Compression lets your web server provide smaller files that load faster so that your website loads quicker. Visit here to see in depth steps.

    • Minify CSS. To minify CSS means to compress the CSS so it loads faster. There are free tools online that can do this for you such as CSS Minifier, CSS Compressor, or Google Minify.

  2. Set Correct Form Input Attributes. What does that mean? In simple terms, it means that when users are on your site and inputting information such as an email address or username into a form, the autocorrect is disabled and auto-capitalize is turned on. When you don’t turn off autocorrect, users will have a frustrating experience trying to type in a word that their phone doesn’t recognize. Make their life easier by changing these settings. If people have a difficult time inputting information in your forms, they will get frustrated and quit partway through the process, making mobile fundraising more of a hinderance than a benefit to you. Follow the steps from Site Point to set your form input attributes.

  3. Clean Content and Whitespace. The current trend in design and user experience is to make your website clean and as simple as possible. Clean up your website. Make sure it is appealing to look at and simple to navigate. Users should be able to find what they are looking for immediately. Make it easy for them to find and donate to your nonprofit on mobile, giving them plenty of thumb space to select and click on links and tabs. Provide users with information on what it is their donation will do. Users like to research before they donate, so providing clean content about how their money will help your cause will make mobile donating easier.
  4. Make a Responsive Design. A responsive design is an affordable option that allows your page to be displayed correctly on any size device screen. If you shrink the page down on your desktop, you can simulate what your page will look like on different size mobile devices. Responsive designs will make viewing your mobile site much more enjoyable and easy to navigate for people using a variety of devices.  
  5. Create a Mobile Version of Your Site. If you want the quick and easy way to creating a mobile friendly website, you can choose to create a mobile version of your desktop site. You can use different platforms like Duda Mobile or goMobi. The downside to this approach is that you will have to maintain two websites, one mobile and one desktop version. If people are using both desktop and mobile, they may notice that information from mobile from what you have displayed on the desktop version. If you feel up to the challenge of maintaining both the mobile and desktop versions of your site, it is an easy alternative to updating your website.  

3. Wording.

In an earlier blogpost, we talked about the importance of having the right messaging to reach your targeted audience. One way you can instantly improve your messaging to drive mobile donations is to stop using the word donate. Instead of saying donate, try saying another word, such as investment when asking donors for money. People don’t want to see their money go to a one-time cause, instead, they want to see how giving to your non-profit will be an investment for years to come. The word investment implies that the donor expects to see a worthwhile result from their contribution, so give your donors a way to see the results of their donations.

While using the right wording is essential to increasing your mobile donations, limiting the total amount of words you use on your site is also critical. Before posting anything on your website, double check to see how it looks on your phone first. Is the font too small? Does the screen look cluttered? With smartphones being the primary way people do research on your organization before donating, give potential donors the information they are looking for in an easy to read user experience. A good exercise to perform to help you decide which information to include on your site is to try and say what your nonprofit organization is all about in under 10 seconds. Start out pretending you are describing the purpose of your organization to a stranger for one minute . Then chop it down to 45 seconds. Then limit it to 30, 20 and finally 10 seconds. It is hard cutting out so much of that information that seems so important, but by the end of the exercise, you will find out what is most important for potential donors to hear. Does your cause resonate with them? Take what you learn from this exercise and use it to change the wording on your site.

Because mobile devices have much smaller screens, people prefer to get to the crux of the story quickly without having to navigate around your website. Provide potential donors with information in bullets or lists that catch the eye and are quick to scan. You will find more people through mobile who are willing to invest in your cause if you keep your messaging short and simple.

4. Social media.

The average person spends the majority of their time on social media when using the internet on their smartphone. To get more fundraising, you need a strong social media presence. You need to stay active and give followers relevant information that they want to consume. Don’t be afraid to experiment with social media, as experimenting will lead you to find what your followers want most. This is a great way to send out reminders for fundraising events as well. Make sure to include pictures and videos on social media because they will get noticed more than posts without any image. You can grow your audience through social media and find potential donors from around the globe. While many people may not donate to your fundraiser directly through social media, it is one of your best tools for expanding your reach, finding new audiences, and sharing your cause. This will indirectly lead to more people registering for your fundraisers and investing in your nonprofit. Using social media is a must for successful mobile fundraising.



5. Text Message Subscriptions.

People's email inboxes have become cluttered with newsletters, promotional offers, and spam that often gets ignored. Text messages, on the other hand, get read 99% of the time, and 90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes of being sent. One of the reason text messages get read so frequently is because they are personal and are from people we want to talk to (most of the time). Instead of trying to collect email addresses, focus your efforts on collecting phone numbers. Mobile subscriptions grew at double the rate of email subscriptions in 2014, and people are 3.5 times more likely to click a link in a text than in an email. To increase your fundraising through mobile, you have to start collecting phone numbers. However, this is difficult, because people are reluctant to give out their phone numbers to begin with. Here are some suggestions for collecting mobile phone numbers:

  • Make giving phone numbers an option not a requirement. Many people will skip over this box on your form, but you will get a few people who are very interested in your nonprofit organization that will want updates from you. These are people who will be willing to invest in your organization or volunteer their time to help out.
  • Make filling out your forms user friendly. Don’t require dashes, parentheses, or any other quirks when gathering phone numbers. Let people fill them in however they choose. If they want dashes, accept dashes. The more phone numbers you can get the better. Don’t prevent yourself from gathering phone numbers by creating friction in your form filling process.  If you want, you can use ghost text in your form boxes to suggest to users how you want them to enter their phone number.
  • Collect phone numbers at in person fundraisers. When people come to attend your fundraiser in person, have a form that they can fill out if they wish. Tell them why you are collecting their phone numbers and how you will use that information. However, you need to make sure to collect donors phone numbers. These are people that may be willing to donate regularly, so make sure you gather their numbers.
  • Offer a text subscription box on your website. On your website, you can add a widget that allows visitors to enter their phone numbers for text subscriptions if they want to sign up. These are people that willingly volunteer to receive your news via text. Make sure this box is on every page of your website, giving online visitors every possibility to sign up.
  • Tell people why you are collecting their phone number. Don’t lie to people. If they don’t want to sign up for mobile subscriptions, that’s okay. Be honest and upfront with why you are collecting their phone number. You can say something like “Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter via text. We won’t send you anything else.” People are already getting spammed through their email, so don’t spam them through text messaging. If they agree to give you their number, take that trust and deliver on what you promised.

Once you have a database of phone numbers and have informed users that they will be receiving a monthly newsletter from you in the form of a link via SMS, optimize your newsletter so it is convenient to donate straight from there. You will see more donations come in simply because of convenience.

Have these suggestions worked for you? Tell us what else you have done to get the most out of mobile.


Cover Photo by Maurizio Pesce