IBM finds app security lacking (and we do too)

25 Mar

thief

At the outset of creating RAZ Mobile we were asked by our developers if we wanted to use the browser for our customer mobile sites or if we wanted to create apps. We chose to use the browser because every phone has one and mobile websites can look very much like apps if the optimization is done well (which we do).

But primary among the myriad reasons for choosing to use the browser was and is donor security. Donations are financial transactions after all and we live in an age of security breaches being far too common place. Donor information security is paramount to earning the trust of the donor and nonprofit alike.

In a recent report, IBM found app security to be lacking in most apps they checked. Dating apps had open holes that could hijack the mic on the phone for example. IBM estimates that over 11 million phones are infected with nefarious code at any given time. Yikes.

Hijacking an app seems to be fairly easy to do given the IBM findings and the survey IBM conducted suggests that many developers are simply in a hurry to get their app done and they cut corners and one corner that gets cut is security. This is really sad.

The path we chose of using the browser means no donor data is retained on the phone and there’s no app on the phone for a hacker to take over. In fact, our donation forms are literally connected to the server that does the processing of donations made to our customers. A direct connection in this manner is ideal and we offer this high level of security to all our customers.

When it comes to going mobile at your nonprofit, don’t get on the app hamster wheel. Security is important and platforms like ours can help take security worries for you and your donors away.

Dale Knoop leads a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a powerful 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 with a minimum of friction. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

Mobile giving is great for events but that’s just scratching the surface

18 Mar

palm

Oftentimes we are approached by nonprofits and causes with the question of using our platform for an event that’s coming up as a way to fundraise at that event. It’s a great idea and we’ve seen it raise thousand of dollars on our platform in less than an hour. But there’s so much more that mobile phones represent in terms of fundraising that just looking at mobiles as your event tool means your nonprofit is just scratching the surface of the potential and the power of mobile phones for engagement and fundraising.

What do I mean? For one, mobile phones are at arms length of your existing supporters and new supporters virtually ALL THE TIME. The reason is we use our phones ALL THE TIME and we want their physical and virtual connection power ALL THE TIME.

So it follows that your nonprofit needs to think of how you are engaging and fundraising via mobile phones ALL THE TIME.

Of course I don’t mean that fundraising via mobiles is all you should think about. In fact what I’m going to share is quite the opposite. It’s kind of “set it and forget it” basic tactics.

Before I get to those, I do need to mention that fundraising via mobiles at your event needs to take into consideration the wireless coverage at your event. I’ve been to many events and the coverage can be spotty based on the carrier, the building and the number of people in a small space.

Connectivity becomes less of a concern each day but still-check your event venue out for coverage.

Now-on to the tactics I mentioned above.

Email – Most of your email to supporters is opened first on a mobile phone. Does it have a DONATE link or button in it? If so, is that experience ready to be seen on a mobile phone or are you still using a PC form? We solved this with responsive design forms that look great on any screen and that take the friction out of giving. Bottom line – your nonprofit needs mobile options for giving and engagement in your email ALL THE TIME and forever going forward.

Social – Same thing here for social media as it is for email. The vast majority of social media is opened and consumed on a mobile phone. At the risk of being a broken record your nonprofit needs a frictionless giving form that looks great on a mobile phone. Had the good folks at ALS not had a mobile-friendly giving form I think their fundraising total would not have been so high for the IceBucketChallenge. And here again….people are in social media ALL THE TIME and it’s all ages not just millennials.

Search – Let’s face it- search on a phone means how your nonprofit ranks in Google’s eyes. On April 21 2015 they will start demoting your domain if you do not have a mobile-friendly (we offer mobile-optimized which is better…..email me at dale@razmobile.com and I’ll tell you why it’s better) version of your domain you will get demoted in search and most importantly MISS A POTENTIAL GIFT and this will happen ALL THE TIME until you fix the situation. The fix is easy and we have helped customers take this off their to-do list.

I hope that you get a small sense of the mighty impact of mobile phones beyond just an event fundraising tool. Entering in personal gift information on a piece of paper should be replaced by mobile-optimized forms like ours. That’s a good thing. Leaving mobile to just be an event tool misses the tactics above ALL THE TIME and that’s a bad thing for all nonprofits.

Dale Knoop leads a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a poweful 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 with a minimum of friction. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

New RAZ Mobile feature coming! The gift cart!

11 Mar

cart

Over the past couple years of RAZ Mobile’s young life we’ve not talked much about new features. Since we’re browser-based and not a downloaded app (here are some reasons why this is the case for us) we’ve never had to highlight what’s new although we should do a better job of it. We’ve rolled out a lot of new features since our launch and everyone gets all of them right away since we’re cloud-based with nothing to download and update constantly.

But as the title to this week’s blog says, we’ve got a new feature coming out and it’s definitely worth a few words here to share more about it.

The request for a gift cart came from where so many of our new features come from – our customers. Many of them requested the ability to load up several gifts by type and campaign and we enthusiastically said “Yes! Let’s build a gift cart!”

And we didn’t enter the design phase of the gift cart hastily. We know that donation processing is where we excel versus our competitors and we also are keenly aware that donation processing is the lifeblood for our customers. That’s why our average donation amount per unique donor is over $120. We’re good at what we do for our customers.

The gift cart design had to take into account the ability to accept the sale of items in addition to the acceptance of multiple gifts while still allowing the use of our donors’ PINs. In many ways our cart is more like the for-profit world of Amazon than it is one that resembles the nonprofit world’s version of a cart.

We think modeling our gift cart and our giving experience after the best in the for-profit world is a good thing since cart experience is a competitive landscape in the for-profit world. We want our customers and their donors to enjoy a very frictionless giving and gift cart experience.

So our customers can count on the ability for supporters to add gifts easily and items for sale and check out fast and securely with the money flowing immediately to the cause’s merchant account or PayPal account. No sitting on funds for days/weeks like our competitors.

Our cart will be rolling into our test environment the week of March 23rd and we’re anxious to get it tested thoroughly and to get it launched for all our customers.

If you have questions about our cart and the features it will offer please email me at dale@razmobile.com

Dale Knoop leads 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 with a minimum of friction. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

Mobile-friendly tagging now impacts your nonprofit’s search rank

3 Mar

photo

Last year Google unveiled their mobile bot, the software that they use to crawl over web domains to see what experience mobile visitors to your domain will see on their phone.

If, in their view, you have a mobile-friendly site Google adds a “Mobile-friendly” tag to your listing in search results. Here’s our blog about this topic from last December. (The screen grab above shows the tag in place for our customer Ronald McDonald House Kansas City.)

Now comes what many thought was inevitable-Google will reduce your search rank if you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your primary website domain URL Here’s an article on this topic from TechCrunch.

What this means is that your nonprofit may not show on the first page of search results. In fact there’s really no way to tell where your website will end up in terms of which page you’ll appear on if you don’t meet Google’s mobile-friendly criteria. Given that mobile searchers aren’t likely to review page after page of search results in the limited time that they devote to search and that mobile search leads to action within an hour, there’s a lot at stake for nonprofits.

Namely, lost donations and missed engagements will likely rise with no mobile-friendly tag.

So, the day has arrived that having a great mobile experience is no longer an option for nonprofits.

As we have blogged about here, most visitors to your domain visit in order to make a gift. Moving down the search results due to the lack of a mobile-friendly experience can have a direct negative impact on fundraising.

As the days, weeks and months go by this situation will only grow as a result of the PC fading from view as the primary access point to the internet for all Americans, no matter their age or demographic profile.

How much does a mobile-friendly (we prefer to think of what our customers have on our platform as “mobile-optimized” – email me at dale@razmobile.com and I’ll tell you the difference) site have to cost? How about less than $1/day?

The reality is that with cloud computing firmly in place there’s really no reason to “own” your website anymore by having a developer create it from scratch. There are plenty of platforms out there like ours to look at and in our case we offer powerful, secure and frictionless giving process for any screen.

Going mobile is easy and now Google has pretty much laid out what they see as a very mobile-dominated future. All nonprofits need to take note and not risk lost donations and reduced supporter engagement.

Dale Knoop leads 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 with a minimum of friction. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

Donor information security in the days of breaches everywhere

25 Feb

thief

I think we’ve grown a bit de-sensitized to the ongoing reporting of data breaches at many firms like Home Depot, Target, etc. The security of credit card processing these days ranges from the non-existent (paper forms with personal information being passed around and then shredded-hopefully) to the state-of-the-art (tokenized donor information).

This week I want to delve into this topic, credit card security, with a few words on best practices. Donors are, after all, very concerned about how nonprofits handle their personal financial information and the last thing a nonprofit wants to be known for is a data breach that exposes the credit card information of its donors.

The first best practice I recommend for data security concerns a current bad practice and it’s one that I personally would like to see go the way of the buggy whip and that’s writing my credit card info on a paper form. No matter how this gets handled my info is on a paper form and I have to trust the nonprofit to dispose of my info properly. I have no idea how many hands my info goes through and frankly I don’t want to know. Paper forms for nonprofit credit card donations simply need to go away.

A frictionless, secure web form is where I want to enter my info (preferably on my phone) and I kind of recoil from nonprofits that send me paper credit card forms to fill out. 75% of Americans have smartphones. Let them give via a mobile-optimized form instantly and easily with the highest level of security out there. This is at the heart of RAZ Mobile’s frictionless giving experience.

Another best practice I recommend is don’t store your donor credit card info anywhere but a “tokenized” vault (more on this below). We trust this highly important service to an expert and in our case it’s Braintree Payment Solutions in Chicago. Sadly, there are some fundraising platform providers that are storing your donor data themselves with who knows what level of security (with or YIKES! without permission of the donor) and your security is only as good as theirs.

Had Target, Home Depot and others outsourced their credit card storage to a third party like we do with Braintree I dare say they would not have had their breaches. Now I know that their breaches were at the credit card reader level but again the point is still clear-how old is their tech inside the reader?

The way to go these days for credit card data security is “tokenization.” Here’s the Wikipedia entry on this topic.

Tokenization is what we offer nonprofits and donors alike at RAZ Mobile and it solves virtually all the online PCI issues nonprofits face today. It’s why many of our customers use RAZ Mobile for all their online donation processing. However, tokenization can’t help a paper form. That goose is already on the loose.

Here’s a quick overview of what tokenization means on our platform. A donor is presented a secure responsive design web form protected by a secure connection to the Braintree processing server. Donor data is entered into the form by the donor and as soon as their information clears the server, 100% of the donation is with the RAZ Mobile nonprofit customer immediately. Then, at the donors option, the donor can store their information as a token at Braintree as a way to expedite future donations which can then be completed in 15 seconds or less on any screen.

For donors that store their information via a token, the donor creates a 4 digit PIN, just like an ATM, to use their stored information for repeat donations which are completed without filling out the form again-their tokenized information is used instead. Tokens created by our donors are virtually meaningless to hackers and are meant to only be used for donations on our platform.

In fact, unlike the paper forms, the only human that sees the donor information is the donor. If they create a 4 digit PIN for easy and secure repeat donations, all we store is a token that has no meaning to anyone other than the Braintree server and the token cannot be used to extract donor data. Instead it’s used to tell Braintree what credit card to use for a repeat donor.

Credit card security technology is an area that we take very seriously. We are as serious in this regard as online heavyweights like Apple and Amazon. A concern that all nonprofits should take off their plate is credit card regulation compliance and donor credit card data security. Instead, use a platform like ours for the best security tools out there and the added benefit of fast and secure repeat gifts in seconds on any screen.

Dale Knoop leads 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 with a minimum of friction. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

50-59 year olds are early tech adopters too?

18 Feb

grandma

I have been in mobile telecom and mobile data services for almost two decades so when someone says to me that older Americans don’t use their smartphone to go to the internet (or, more closely to what we help them do at RAZ Mobile, give to nonprofits they support) I laugh. Sometimes out loud and sometimes not. It’s funny to me that some feel there is a line drawn between demographic groups.

It makes me want to ask “Well, if older folks don’t use the internet then where are all the typewriters?”

I observe older Americans (I guess the correct term would be “Boomers”) head down, finger extended, tapping and sliding around on their smartphones just as much as I see Gen X, Y or Z so the notion that Boomers somehow lag is a faulty notion to me.

When data that supports this crosses my laptop I can’t help but share it and sort of parade it around because it signals the ongoing and pervasive shift away from the PC to the mobile phone. It’s yet again an indicator to nonprofits that their paramount concern should be the immediate implementation of frictionless mobile-optimized giving options FOR ALL AGES.

Below is a snipet from the blog post by Jason Cohen on Big Music Data:

old

As you can see Boomers are early tech adopters right alongside younger generations.

Why is is this so? It’s because everyone of all ages loves easy, convenient and compulsive access to data and communications. What of those with flip phones? At some point their wireless service provider will tell them that they can’t have that phone on their network. Why would their wireless service provider do this? For one, the wireless service provider will not have anyone that can diagnose problems on flip phones-they’re too old. Secondly, the carrier is not making any money from the flip phone person so they’d be happy to see them churn. And finally, when your flip phone dies (and it will someday) you may not be able to avoid having to buy a smartphone.

Need more convincing? This piece from 2014 lists 55 year olds and older as the group with the fastest rate of adoption of smartphones.

Right now, we’re witnessing the rise of the mobile computing era and its impact is only making itself known across for-profit and nonprofit enterprises. The magnitude of the impact will be large and pervasive and when it comes to nonprofit engagement and fundraising, all nonprofits need to forget the non-existent demographic lines they think they see and start TODAY asking donors of all ages to give easily, securely and quickly on their smartphones.

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, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

There’s 3 BIG reasons we’re not a fundraising intermediary

11 Feb

It has been a general rule of thumb here at the RAZ Mobile blog to not really talk a lot about all the (amazing!) things we do with our platform. On occasion we do highlight certain features and benefits of our platform and we do ask nonprofits interested in talking more about the space and our approach to it to contact us. We look at it as common practice and one that’s based on a spirit of helpfulness and service to our customers. We don’t really deploy a used-car, high pressure sales approach. Our customers are reaping manifold benefits and we’re thrilled to serve them.

But this week, I must shine a bright light on one MAJOR difference between what we do and seemingly every other software-as-a-service (SaaS) fundraising platform.

And that difference is: We’re not an intermediary fundraising platform. 

Here’s the 3 big reasons why.

1. Donors want to know their donation is going straight to the cause

Donations made through an intermediary fundraising platform are held by the intermediary for a period of time and forwarded to the cause at a later date. I think if you asked anyone who gives to those in need they would say 100 times out of 100 times that they want their money to go directly to those in need and having it held for any period of time isn’t what they want.

There are two extremes of intermediaries and some fill a great role like introducing small causes to large corporations. This to me is OK but not great.

On the far extreme are bizarre intermediary platforms that take donations to causes they don’t have a relationship with and then they promise to use “commercially reasonable efforts” to get the donation to the cause. If they can’t (keep in mind, the donation made is still sitting in THEIR bank account and not the cause’s) they take a slice of the donation and refund the balance of the donation to the donor!!

I fail to see how this model has those in need at the core of their mission. Representing the presence of a relationship with a cause when there is none and deploying a highly legalistic promise about what will be done to get the donation to the cause is beyond the pale in my opinion.

Were we one of their kind, an intermediary fundraising platform, we would be seen as a peer of this bizarre platform. Not happening.

2. Our role is making giving frictionless on any phone, tablet or PC

By definition, an intermediary adds friction. They’re in the middle and I would say in the way between a donor and the person in need that the cause serves.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has stated numerous times that there’s billions of dollars in lost donations caused by too much friction in in the online giving process. This is caused by 1) too many pages to complete each time a donation is made and 2) using a PC experience for a giving experience for the rapidly growing number of donors wanting to make a gift via the phone in their hand when the impulse to give hits them.

Compared to an intermediary fundraising platform, our platform is like comparing walking to a Ferrari. Sure, both can get you there but the Ferrari is much faster! (And more fun I would say!)

Not only is fast a word to use about our giving process but words like DIRECT and SECURE and FRICTIONLESS apply to what we do for our customers. We don’t touch donations, we don’t hold donations and we don’t see the donors credit card info. Moreover, we allow anyone to make repeat donations in seconds on any phone, tablet or PC with no app to download and no login and password to remember.

3. Direct connections are the promise and potential of the internet

One of the hallmarks of the internet is to connect anyone, anywhere, anytime to what they are looking for, wishing to buy or wanting to talk to. It follows then that there should be a direct connection between donor and cause online and yet the intermediary invites donations to be made under the auspices of getting it to the cause after they’ve held the money for awhile.

Again, when we built RAZ Mobile’s awesome donation processing features this promise of the internet was in our minds and it’s a promise we deliver on with the ability to give in seconds DIRECTLY TO THE CAUSE on any phone, tablet or PC.

In summary, there are good intermediaries that do things well and have value. Then there are the ones like I’ve described herein that take money for causes that they have no relationship whatsoever.

We’re not like them and never will be an intermediary. Donated money deserves to be where it’s needed as fast as possible and with as little friction as possible.

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, negative QOS and a mnemonic device QR code alternative.

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