2 pros and 2 cons regarding the #IceBucketChallenge

20 Aug

ice

The #IceBucketChallenge (IBC) has been a tremendous money raiser for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Here is a description of this terrible disease from the ALS website.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

I think the success of the IBC is amazing and there’s 2 things that are positive for all nonprofits to draw from. But there are a couple negatives too in my opinion.

PRO #1 – Social media is as good if not better than TV

The IBC points out the immense power of social networks to drive money straight to the cause. And there is a fine point here to make. Heretofore this kind of outpouring was limited to disasters, the TV coverage of the disaster and the use of text-to-give to raise money for the disaster victims.

During these disasters the call to action on TV was omnipresent. The IBC achieved the same thing in getting both social media AND TV coverage. It helps that people with large social media followings got involved in the IBC. At first glance a nonprofit would be thinking that this kind of scale would be impossible for them to achieve. To a certain extent they would be right, however social media helps cover for your nonprofit’s lack of social media scale. Because you are there on social media making the ask you make it possible for things to go viral. Think of it like winning the lottery. You have to have a ticket to win. If you’re not on social media or not asking on social media how do things go viral in your favor?

PRO #2 – Donors will give via their mobile phone

As I followed the IBC on Twitter on my phone occasionally I saw screen grabs from mobile phones which showed their donation confirmation. Given that Twitter is very much a mobile channel (86% of the time on Twitter is on a mobile phone per comScore Dec. 2013) it is no surprise that IBC tweets led to a mobile search for ALS and a mobile gift to ALS.

Nonprofits should stop telling themselves that no one will give via their mobile phone. They do if the experience is optimized for their phone and easy to complete in the moment. To the 84% of nonprofits that still use a donation experience designed for a PC to be their mobile giving experience the IBC success is your wake up alarm.

CON #1 – The world is watching

In 2011 CNN reported this:

“On average, women in developing countries walk 6 kilometers a day to collect water” because there is not enough of it nearby, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero told CNN.

People outside the US see the dumping of water and ice on the ground and their opinion of us can’t be good. I imagine that developing countries don’t have ice in a box waiting for them at all times. What would have been nice is ALS partnering with a water charity to lessen the perception of wasteful, uncaring Americans.

CON #2 – Where was the URL?

I mentioned following the IBC on Twitter and in most of the challenge tweets or the tweets sharing a person’s video of them taking the challenge there was no URL to give to. The impulse to give in this case required leaving Twitter (or other social media channels) and searching for where to give. This adds to the giving process needlessly and I wonder if donations would have been even higher if there had been a URL for the IBC giving page alongside the IBC hashtag.

All nonprofits must seek to shorten the distance between emotion and a gift as well as remove all points of friction in the donor journey from impulse to donation acknowledgement.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

 

One tiny thing letting your nonprofit’s email down

13 Aug

tiny donate

I find myself at a bit of an impasse with this week’s blog. I have written here about ways to improved email performance for your nonprofit. I have read the musings of the gurus and experts in the nonprofit space about improving email and yet despite all this effort we still get stories like this:

In 2012 online donations via email dropped 21% due to donate pages not being mobile compatible.

Depending on what stat you believe, anywhere from just over 50% to 70% of email is opened first on a mobile phone. This grows daily.

The initial open of your nonprofit’s email appeal is the first impression for the opener. Is your email easy to read on their phone? This is one item that really should be an easy one to solve. It is paramount that you make your nonprofit’s email fast to load and easy to read on the recipient’s phone.

I think we all agree on this point and yet heading into the highly important holiday season of giving I still see A LOT of email that is not readable on my phone without pinching and swiping to make it readable.

The presumption that I will “read it later” is just that – presumptuous and highly unlikely. An opportunity has been lost to gain an interaction and a potential donation.

And it is this latter subject – donating via an email ask – that is the one tiny thing letting your email down. Somewhere in the tiny print is the word “Donate” as a hyperlink. Under no circumstances in an email communication with an ask should the Donate link be so small and hard to find as to require the would-be-donor to have to hunt for it.

The goal of the appeal is to let the donor easily express their generosity to your nonprofit and at no point should you make them work to do this. It’s oxymoronic if you take a step back and be honest about this situation.

But let’s say that the donor is determined to make their gift. God bless those that are because they help nonprofits survive.

The donor taps on “Donate” and oops – they’re now being taken to a PC donation experience that is slow to load and as tough to navigate as your appeal email. Now the donor is again pinching and swiping to complete your PC donation form on their phone.

Why make donors do this? It is SO EASY to have a fully responsive, fully mobile-optimized donation experience to give donors. The nonprofit’s brand can be placed in a bad light  due to being seen as not ready for mobile-only or mobile first supporters. The number of mobile-only and mobile-first supporters to your nonprofit stand at 25% and 34% respectively and are growing at a rapid rate. Not being ready for these supporters can ding your nonprofit’s brand and like I said, it’s super easy to solve for this TODAY.

So here’s my advice. Do one thing to make your email better so you don’t experience the drop in donations in the stat from above. Make the Donate button and/or hyperlink in your appeal emails BIG and make it RESPONSIVE and do this NOW before the holidays.

Why frustrate would-be donors and why make it hard to give? If you make it easy for a donor to express themselves financially to your nonprofit chances are increased that they will do it more often. Time to stop presuming they only use their PC to open email and to give.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

9 things to consider before your nonprofit joins a 3rd party app

6 Aug

app

There’s no denying the mobile transformation of every sector of the nonprofit space. Your supporters have mobile phones and if you ask them to give through their phone 62% of millennials say they will and yet 47% say the reason they haven’t given is they haven’t been asked.

So as your nonprofit readies itself to go mobile you will find many paths to choose from. One of them, becoming part of a third party app, may seem like the easy way to join in the app hype and frenzy but as you’ll read below there are some vital things to consider before you join a third party app to take your nonprofit mobile.

Discoverability and loyalty

Chief among the gripes from app creators is getting discovered in a sea of applications. Coincidentally there are 1.2M apps in the iTunes store and just about the same number of nonprofits in the US, 1.4M. And herein lies the problem-if your nonprofit is part of a third party fundraising app, how do you get discovered?

Sure, one can search for your nonprofit but this takes time and if there are similar names in the app alongside you the donor may give to someone else. This points out the loyalty issue. While searching for you your donor-to-be sees an interesting name of another nonprofit and changes their mind about giving to you.

Would you present some other nonprofit’s donation button next to yours on your website? I didn’t think so.

Lack of integration into your existing channels especially email and social

How do you integrate the third party app into your communication? I may be wrong but the only way you can has to lead with “Download the app and then search for us and then make a donation.” Kind of long-winded right? You risk what happens above if you do this.

With your communication being purposely designed to spur action right then and there asking a supporter to go get an app dilutes your message greatly. With dilution of the message comes contemplation by the donor and contemplation invites giving up on the impulse and a lost donation.

By far the best way to maximize the potential of social media as giving channel is to not use an app but to use a URL which leads to a mobile-optimized giving page. This practice facilitates the pursuit of the donor’s impulse much better than an app.

Maybe no donor data? No CRM integration?

I experienced a third party app which launched recently and the app gave the donor the ability to include no information about themselves be sent to the nonprofit. If a growing donor base is the lifeblood of a nonprofit this option for the donor goes the wrong direction.

Additionally, how do you thank this donor? Ya can’t.

How do you get them to open the app? Keep the app?

According to the Localytics blog 23% of iOS apps are opened only once. Again, if your communication with donors is to spur them to give you have to tell them to open the third party app. For those without the app you need to tell them to get the app and the drawbacks listed herein start to apply. Because every phone has a browser you are way better off with a link to tap on versus getting them to leave your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed because your supporters live on social media and asking them to exit is considered somewhat of a foul.

I had the pain of moving operating systems more than once (Blackberry to Android to Apple) and at each swap I made decisions about what apps I put back on my phone. Do you want to run the risk of being in app that doesn’t make the cut when a donor decides what to keep?

I also know people that have de-apped their phone out of a sense of app overload. In an opinion piece at Mashable from last year the author noted 165 apps on his iPhone and estimated that 91% were never used. If you’re in an app that gets deleted now what?

Malware

 In April of this year researchers at Webroot found only 1% of apps to be “trustworthy” and found 10% to be outright malicious. Pointing out malware as a third party app drawback isn’t meant to say that third party fundraising apps are bad but you have to be very wary of the creator and their use of data collected from the donors phone.

After all, trusting your brand to a firm that does not follow and maintain the highest security for their app means your brand is only as good as they are.

Apps crash

I think we’ve all suffered this one-an app that crashes for whatever reason and again, like the malware issue above, crash-prone apps or ones with very poor experiences are not a place for your valued brand. In September 2013 testing firm uTest warned iPhone owners that iOS 7 would crash their apps. For apps that crash and need updating you have to pray for the donor to get the update. They might just delete the app if it does crash.

Does not solve Google SEO issue

With Google now crawling over your primary domain URL with their mobile-bot to see what experience you give mobile visitors all nonprofits need a mobile-optimized version of their primary domain URL or risk purposeful search rank demotion.

Simply put, no app can solve for this. Ever.

Won’t capture lost donations from mobile visitors to your domain

Let’s say that a potential donor searches for you, finds you and makes it to your Donate button. Because 84% of nonprofits rely on their PC donation experience for mobile visitors the chance of a donation drops off a cliff because your PC form is too hard to complete on a phone. With a responsive design giving experience on your PC site, you dramatically improve the chance for a donation because the form presented has been optimized for their device.

No app can help with this. You still need a mobile-optimized giving experience for mobile visitors to your website or you’re risking lost donations.

Comments from Red Cross

And then there’s this quote from July 2013 by the former vice president digital engagement at the Red Cross, Craig Oldham:

“Apps stink for fundraising,” Mr. Oldham said. “We try our hardest to get people to donate through apps – they are horrible.”

Based on all that has been shared here, your nonprofit might be well-served to heed Mr. Oldham’s feedback and steer clear of the path that leads to your nonprofit being in a third party app.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

Who is the most powerful donor?

30 Jul

money

There is a certain feeling of power when you can express and fulfill an impulse in seconds. American society thrives on instant gratification. I believe that this is, in part, due to the feeling of power. Here’s an excellent article from Yahoo Business on the power of now.

To me, this same concept of the power applies even more to the notion of giving to a nonprofit. When the giving process is laborious and time-consuming I think some of the feeling of power goes away. In my mind’s eye, I just can’t see making donating hard to do and yet that’s the case for some causes. It follows then that I prefer to give using RAZ Mobile, not just because I founded RAZ Mobile, but because I can give to any cause on our platform in about 20 seconds. That is instant gratification for me, the cause I gave to and in some cases someone or something in need.

There’s no app to download and I only had to fill out the donation form once. I store my credit card info securely just like I do with Apple or Amazon. Now, when a RAZ Mobile customer asks for help with a donation, I feel very powerful in being able to give in 20 seconds on any screen-phone, tablet or PC.

The asks can come in an email, a tweet, a Facebook posting, a text message and even direct mail. And I can respond right then and there if I choose to do so. This makes me feel very powerful.

And I don’t mean power in the political sense. I mean power in that I am ready to give and express my support in a few taps on my phone. I can fulfill my impulse to give very, very easily. This makes me feel good and all nonprofits should strive to make their donors feel good. It encourages a repeat act of giving.

I don’t think it’s selfish to feel good or powerful nor do I feel like a slave to instant gratification. We’re talking about giving to help others after all.

Into the future I don’t think legacy means of giving tap into this feeling of power and in fact, I think they make some feel like they are powerless since some don’t have checking accounts or PCs. Some may resent a laborious giving experience or that a response to a direct mail ask begets more mail not just from the cause given to but from other causes that bought the donor list of the cause given to.

I also like the sense of power of using technology to help lower the cost of a dollar raised while raising the ROI of the cause that I gave to.

Call me an early adopter if you want because I certainly feel like I’m on a mission to do my part to make the world a better place. I prefer to think of myself in other terms-I am ready to give anytime, anywhere in 20 seconds. All your nonprofit has to do is ask. I am the most powerful donor.

3 things to do if your nonprofit is new to social media

23 Jul

The best campaign results we have seen with our customers has been driven through and via social media. The sharing and trending we have seen for social media-centric fundraising campaigns is eye-opening and yet somewhat to be expected since sharing and following are easy to do via the device at arms length 91% of the time-a mobile phone.

All social media is now (and always has been) mobile-centric and becoming increasingly so with each passing day. Email is the same with almost 70% of email being opened first on a mobile phone. This is indicative of the mobile phone supplanting the PC as the primary (or exclusive) internet access device.

And yet, as powerful as social media is, some nonprofits are on the fence or just getting started and are working to build their audience up to UNICEF-like size (almost 3M followers on Twitter). How did they get this big and can your nonprofit do the same thing?

Building your social following starts with one person, just like every great journey starts with one step. So let’s just say that your nonprofit has cleared all the internal hurdles needed to use social media-what now?

Here’s the 3 things I would suggest if your nonprofit is new to or just getting started in social media.

Work with others that have larger followings

Your nonprofit likely knows and hopefully works with local businesses and organizations who may have much larger social followings than yours. Work with them on what messages and frequency they would be willing to let you place in front of their audience. The beauty of this is that both parties win. The business is seen as a good community citizen and they will introduce you to people that you likely would never meet on your own. A yearlong calendar of this would do wonders to help you build your audience. And as we’ve seen, this has also proven to be a WINNER when it comes time to raising money.

So all you have to say to them is “Hey, we are trying to build our audience and would you be OK with tweeting to your followers about what we do?” I don’t know of many, if any, that would say no.

Don’t give up

This one really applies to all of us using social media and that is be there at all times and don’t stop delivering your message. It may seem that it’s not going well but one mustn’t take a short term view on social media. Th goal is to build an audience and that means always saying something whenever you can. Planning social media posts can be fun for staff to create if you let it be that way. And the reward can be like we saw last Christmas-one of our customers received $2000 from a single tweet. This customer is a one man nonprofit and with a tweet he was there when the donor felt the impulse to give. Very powerful indeed.

Make sure conversation extenders are mobile-optimized

Focus on this point for a moment. Social media = mobile.

social

This is one that is perhaps the most cumbersome for nonprofits to address. Much of their social content points to links where the content is not optimized to be seen on a mobile phone. Besides presenting a broken link, nothing ends the conversation faster than making someone pinch, swipe and wait for the PC experience you want to share with them slowly renders on their phone. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With platforms like ours the conversation can be extended easily to your fully optimized, stocked-with-content RAZ Mobile site.

The same applies even more with asking for donations in social media. The mobile donation experience must be easy to complete in the moment. Relying on a PC experience for mobile giving is a path to lost donations (and frustration at an impulse denied).

Social media, no matter how your board feels about it, is powerful and here to stay. Get started today or if you’re having trouble getting into a groove, hopefully these tips help.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

“Eventually” your nonprofit will go mobile?

16 Jul

Let me start this week’s post with an apology to our followers for missing last week. You see, I was dealing with this.

photo

So there was the tree. About which, much like the headline of this week’s post, I was reminded that “eventually your house will be back to normal”.

Well the tree is gone and the repairs have begun. My thanks to all who expressed their concern and best wishes.

But the question remains-when exactly is “eventually”? Can it be today? In the case of nonprofits missing mobile donations the answer is “it should be today”. In the case of many though this is the answer and their response – “Eventually we will go mobile”.

Imagine Bill Gates saying this. Or anyone at Google or Apple? Mobile technology is moving so fast that one could argue that each month that goes by for a nonprofit or for-profit entity without a great mobile experience is equivalent to 2 or 3 months. Each month that goes by not giving your supporters (and customers) a great mobile experience means catching up will take more time than you think. Sadly, some will never catch up.

I’ll say the same thing I always say: online is the only growing channel for giving and the online channel, with each passing day, increasingly means mobile.

“Eventually” as the timeframe for a nonprofit to embrace mobile and to deploy a mobile-optimized version of their primary domain, to say nothing of optimizing giving pages for mobile donors, strikes me as simply a cop-out and an excuse to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting better and better results.

And yet, I have heard “eventually” as the timeframe to go mobile from too many nonprofits who likely don’t realize that the pace of going online mostly via mobiles has hastened and now stands at 34% according to PewResearch. Restated, just over 1 in 3 are mostly mobile on the internet. In the next 12 months I predict this figure will close in on 50%. Let that sink in-1 in 2 will be mostly mobile on the internet and sooner than you think.

So while you plot “eventually” as a date on your nonprofit’s calendar to go mobile, your supporters are already moving on, transferring their PC internet activity to their mobile phone. And, along with it, their loyalty and support to another cause.

When that day of “eventually” does come and you do go mobile you will be able to say at that time “Eventually our supporters will come back” even though they will have likely moved on with their time, talent and treasure to another nonprofit that engages them and values them enough to make their mobile experience the best it can be.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

For millennials technology is a need not a want

2 Jul

 

trashed

My favorite quote from the just-released Experian report titled Millennials Come of Age is this:

“While the rest of adults see smartphones and the Internet as revolutionary, for Millennials, they’re just part of the natural order of things,” (John) Fetto added. “As such, they have expectations about how things should work that may seem unrealistic to those who grew up without such technologies. Technology and connectivity is not a want for this generation; it’s a need.”

It’s my favorite because it completely captures the situation facing businesses and nonprofits-millennials look at their world as one that’s infused with technology and mastering technology for the sake of engaging this audience of 80,000,000 people is the same as they view their smartphone-it’s a need and at the center of their life.

Need more proof? From the report:

  • Millennials are mobile dominant. Fifty percent of Millennial smartphone owners say that they access the Internet more often through their phone than through a computer.

What’s this mean? Your nonprofit is getting an ever-increasing amount of traffic from mobile phones and if you’ve followed our blog you know that using a PC experience for mobile visitors gets your Google search rank demoted and puts you at high risk for missing donations.

You can expect the mobile dominance for millennials to rise over time along with your inbound traffic to your primary domain from mobile phones.

All of this points to a persistent mobile experience for all age groups, not just millennials. If mobile is a lifestyle and at the center of an ever-increasing amount of people then your nonprofit should not look at mobile as just something to leverage for your next event.

Think of it this way-mobile usage is not an event so why look at mobile engagement and giving as an event? (I know this is in large part driven by the perception that mobile giving equals text-to-give but text-to-give falls way, way short of being what mobile giving really is and solves none of the challenges presented by relying on a PC experience for mobile visitors to your primary domain.)

I know nonprofits are inundated with stats and findings about the millennial generation but this is to be expected when the stakes are so high. All nonprofits must embrace mobile technology now and focus more on learning what works rather than just “trying it out”. A growing number of Americans, millennials and other groups like Boomers, rely on their mobile phones daily and they’re not “trying it out”.

Time to think like the people your nonprofit needs to attract for furthering your mission.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

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