Archive | October, 2013

Uh oh. Could I be costing my supporters money?

30 Oct


With this kind of title for a blog aimed at nonprofits I won’t beat around the bush. The issue is simple. Your donors search for you on their mobile phone, they find your main page and they click on the URL.

Then the wait starts if all you have to show them is your PC site. What’s happening while they wait?

Besides frustrating them, you are delivering lots of megabytes (MBs) of data to their phone since what you rely on to be your mobile presence for your supporters is a page full of MBs that was designed to viewed on a PC.

It is these MBs that are costing your supporters. They have to pay their wireless carrier for their data plan (unless they have an unlimted plan – most don’t) and the MBs you are trying to send them to fulfill their search for you eats out of their wireless data plan.

If they’ve used all their data plan doing other things, their search for you could be costing them more than the MBs coming out of their data plan.

What aggravates this situation is research has shown that many people won’t wait for your PC site to load and they move on to something else in their day. Even when they leave they still had MBs delivered to their phone even if your PC site doesn’t render so this essentially equates to a waste of MBs and a waste of your supporters time and perhaps money.

I know one of the things that drives this situation is many staffers and board members have never seen their PC site on a mobile phone. They don’t know what they are showing their supporters who search for them on a mobile phone. They’ve never attempted a donation to their PC donation page from a mobile phone.

I am constantly surprised by this and yet the reaction I’ve received from even nonprofit consultants is “mobile visitors to our PC site don’t give” and this somehow makes mobile giving not something they embrace at all.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We have customers raising thousands of dollars ($1400 in an hour this past weekend at a live event) and one of the great things some of our customers do is redirect their mobile visitors to their RAZ Mobile site instead of their PC site.

This is such a great thing to do for your supporters. It shows you care about their time and money. It shows that you value them and that you want them to have a great experience with your nonprofit no matter how they try to interact with you.

Is a redirect hard to deploy? Not at all. Your web hosting company can do this for you and if they can’t, we’re always here to help. It just take a few lines of very, very common code installed at your web domain host and your RAZ Mobile site URL.

With a redirect in place pointing mobile supporters to your RAZ Mobile site, they no longer have to wait since RAZ Mobile sites are very lightweight-we’re talking kilobytes not MBs. RAZ Mobile sites load fast and are easy to navigate.

My simple advice: get a RAZ Mobile site, deploy a redirect for mobile visitors to your PC domain and don’t risk alienating your supporters. Show them you care about their experience with your nonprofit. Show them you care about their time and money. It’s really easy and could make a world of difference to you and your supporters.

Make time, find time, their time……is it time?

23 Oct


Thanks for stopping by-I know you don’t have much time. ūüôā

This week’s blog topic is just that-time. Time as it pertains to many aspects of the mission and operation of nonprofits. ¬†And, lest we forget, perhaps the most valued time-the time of nonprofit supporters and donors.

I attended (and am writing this now at) the NP Connect 2013 Conference. On Monday, Beth Kanter spoke about the importance of making time and to quit trying to find time to adopt and use social media. The same thought applies to going mobile. Many of the speakers pointed to both social and mobile as the future and I always say the future is here, today, right now. Her advice (and mine too)-make time for them both now since social and mobile are vital for the future success for nonprofits of all sizes and missions

With low budgets and staffing challenges, time, or the lack of it, is always top of mind for nonprofits. However, as hard as you may think it is, you have to make time and quit trying to find it in your effort to adapt and change to meet the massive opportunities afforded by social media and it’s lifelong pal-the smartphone. It’s like the Nike slogan of “Just Do It”.

Draft a social media code of conduct and start slowly and don’t pressure yourself. Instead, ease into it and build over time. There’s so much promise in social media that you have to begin using it since there is a high likelihood that your donors are already looking for you there today. The 2013 Millennial Impact reminds us that millennials go to your website first but then to your social media for your content, to see what others say about you and to share you with their network if they are motivated to do so.

Going mobile too is one of those things you should probably address now as well. You know it’s inevitable. In the for-profit world, retailers are predicting a bigger mobile commerce holiday shopping season than 2012. For them, mobile commerce grows and they learn what works and what doesn’t work.¬†They’ve made time for mobile and social and are reaping the benefits.

Each year, the importance of a great mobile experience for your donors that are looking for you on their mobile phone rises and there’s a good chance that each year that goes by with no action on your part makes the situation more acute. If your PC site has more than 10% of visits coming from a mobile phone the time is NOW to go mobile.

What I always say to nonprofits I talk to is that you need to decide when your go-mobile-day-one is and set your calendar to it. As time passes and your mobile day one drifts into the future, all the key learnings will be delayed and the development of future-proof mobile and social tactics (they are the proverbial two peas in the pod) is non-existent until you make the time.

For donors, time is a critical element in their engagement with your nonprofit. Put bluntly, how much time are they being asked for if they make the time to volunteer or follow you on social media or make a donation? I do know this much-there are far too many nonprofits relying on their PC site to be their mobile donation page and many studies show this is not the thing to do at all with a¬†donors’ time.

Millennials say, with their actions and responses to research,-“don’t waste my time”. They say “I want to give¬†in the moment”¬†to a mobile-optimized (better than mobile-friendly) website. When they have a poor experience on your PC site with their smartphone because it takes too much of their time to load¬†their reaction speaks volumes-they likely won’t come back.¬†They think you don’t get it and they’re gone. Their time is better spent elsewhere is what they are thinking.

So, in respect to your time, I end with two thoughts. Make time for social and mobile TODAY. Think of your donors and don’t waste their time¬†by being absent from social media and presenting donation pages designed for a PC.

Does asking too often burn out donors? The eyeballs have the answer.

16 Oct


Last week, while watching my Twitter feed go by in a moment where I took a break from creating copy, I saw a tweet from Blackbaud suggesting that it’s a myth in fundraising that asking too often burns out donors and makes them give up supporting nonprofits. I made a mental note and came back to that tweet this week and read the article.

In the article, it was stated that DonorVoice had done a study in 2012 that pinpointed “Engagement” as the highest key dimension in donor commitment. Donors want to be engaged by nonprofits they support. Engagement leads to volunteering, advocacy and giving.

In the back of my mind I had always been told that the reason donors left is that they feel like they are just an ATM to the nonprofits they choose to support. My sense is this is in response to nonprofits who only engage when they need money and not at other times.

So I got to wondering just what’s going on with engagement, retention and giving. Which position is right? Can mobile help with answering this question?

Engagement can take many forms and the selection of channel is important. Today, and forever going forward, engagement centers on person-to-person and social media (not just the usual suspects but text messaging and email too).

The 2013 Millennial Impact Report tells us that millennials go to the website of a nonprofit to “check you out” and then head to social media to follow you, share with you and see what others are saying.

So for this population it’s all about social media and will be for a long, long time. All nonprofits need to be on social media. In the vacuum of not being there your existence is questioned, no one can find you and certainly no one can share you with their network.

For an older population not using social media, direct mail is still used although what I hear is that it’s mostly a break even endeavor so I’m not real sure why it’s still used by some. Some say it’s a brand exercise. I hear donors say they worry their direct mail gift begets more direct mail which is a turn off for them.

Left to me, if I were the head of a nonprofit, I would go all in with social media for engagement for one main reason: the ability for my message to go very, very far in no time. Who shares direct mail pieces? If I had a great time at your gala or shot a 68 at your golf event how’s that help you engage others?

Here’s a great post from Third Sector Today about using social media to propel your mission.

Retention is the quest to stay relevant in the mind of your supporters and to keep a nonprofit donor informed and satisfied of your appreciation of their support.

When I think about retention and mobile I think of one thing: eyeballs.

If your donors’ eyeballs are so glued to their mobile phone they are willing to risk car accidents, break social mores around where, when and how loud they speak on their phone and put up with rotten service from their carrier, you have to, I repeat, have to figure out how to let them stay there when you engage with them. Don’t ask them to put the phone down and read your letter or go to their laptop. This article refers to Facebook saying users of it’s mobile app are “obsessive” about using it.

Guess what? Other nonprofits let them stay on their mobile and with their eyeballs glued to it they will win in a world of picky donors facing increasingly tough economic times.

Lastly, we turn to what makes the repeated engagement and the hard work at retention pay off: a donor makes a gift.

Does mobile help with this? Of course and I would say above all other channels for getting gifts, mobile is the best.

Yes, I know…..I work at RAZ Mobile and have to say this. Not really.

I can make gifts to any cause on our platform that I want to give to in 20 seconds and it feels GOOD!

I get a Thank you right away and it feels GOOD!

I get to act on my impulse when I see a message that spurs me to make a gift and it feels GOOD!

I follow nonprofits I like on my mobile phone via Twitter and it feels GOOD!

The mobile phone is an impulse release device connected to the internet. That’s a GOOD thing!

My advice to causes that think they will burn out donors by asking to much is to forget the overt ask. Start engaging via social media, stop asking your supporters to tear their eyeballs away from their phones and give them the option to make a mobile donation in the moment when they feel the impulse to give.

How big was giving when the first online donation was made?

9 Oct


In a galaxy far, far away……

I’ve always wanted to start a blog this way. I apologize for my indulgence.

With that out of my system I do have a story to share.

Back in the day, we’ll call it 1996, giving online was pretty much the proverbial acorn. Small, and not showing the promise of what was to be the might oak of today; the only giving channel that’s growing.

When we began to build RAZ Mobile, we sought a perspective on the growth of online giving. We asked ourselves, “In the first year of online giving, how much was raised?”

Finding stats that old is tough but I did find one in an article where the source was not quoted. The author of the article stated that in 1996 the total of online giving for the entire nonprofit sector online was $250,000.

That’s a respectable number but remember how few people were online. Remember how web experiences could vary widely in quality and how e-commerce was still talked about as something that would never catch on.

Framed in that environment, $250,000 looks like a win for the sector and a tiny suggestion of what was to come.

Fast forward to today and the PC industry is “hemorrhaging” to use the description of one article reporting on dismal PC sales. Tablets and smartphones are displacing the PC as the first device internet users go to access the internet.

Mary Meeker at KPCB tells us the mobile MBs are growing at a rapid rate and it’s not just swapping PC experiences on the internet for mobile experiences. Each day the web plays more of a role in our lives than many of us would care to admit. This isn’t cannibalization. It’s the maturation of humans using their connectivity to other humans and vast troves of information. Meeker says by the end of 2015 33% of all MBs will be mobile and then she predicts the pace to¬†accelerate.

So does it follow that giving via a smartphone with internet access will start equally small, like 1996 and that it will grow as PC online giving has into approximately 15% of a $200B+ business as it stands today?

Of course it will. However, the growth will be more rapid and equally transformative for nonprofits.

You see, back in 1996 we never gave over the internet. We had to learn it.

Back in 1996, the internet sat on my desk. Now it’s in my hand… all times it seems and never, ever far from reach.

We have large and small customers raising large amounts and small amounts because we make it easy to give on a mobile phone with pages that are fast-to-load and easy to navigate. We let donors have the option to store their information securely so they never have to fill out a form to give for ANY nonprofit on our platform. For those that do so, their donations are made in the impulse and done in 20 seconds or less.

1996 was not that long ago and online giving has had an immense impact on giving and our world. It’s saved nonprofits in the United States from the troubles of the US Postal Service. It’s reduced the carbon footprint of what still is today, a bit too heavy.

Today, without hesitation, I will tell you that giving via smartphones connected to the web will be bigger than you can imagine. I dare say no one would have said that $250,000 in year one would be multi-billions of dollars less than two decades later.

The mobile web is growing fast and the need to add real, fully-optimized mobile fundraising and engagement to your capabilities has arrived.

One might say that this is 1996 all over again. But this time the rate of growth will be far, far bigger than you can imagine.

Giving by Google Wallet: Will tomorrow ever come?

2 Oct


Predicting the future, especially anything to do with mobile phones, the mobile internet and mobile applications, can be a tough thing to engage in. By tough, I mean many folks miss the mark ranging from predicting what they think will happen to completely missing new behaviors, opportunities and dominant players.

Who would have predicted that today Blackberry would have roughly a 4% share of the phone OS market when in 2009 they had 50%? Same thing with Microsoft and anything they do in the mobile space. The rise of Angry Birds? Who saw that one coming? I could go on and on about the hits and misses.

One pat on my own back: in 2003 I envisioned the popularity of live streaming TV on phones and now, as it was back in 2003, live video on mobile phones is huge and will get bigger.

As I see the predictions made in the mobile space, I always assess if I see the same outcome; the same prediction.

The mobile prediction that motivated me to write this blog was the one made by yet another self-proclaimed nonprofit technology expert last week. It goes something like this: donors to nonprofits don’t want to fill out credit card forms on their phone. The expert’s “gut” told her that Google Wallet would rule the day in the future of mobile giving.

When I read this one I paused and said to myself, “Really?”. I wasn’t feeling it at all.

You see, I already know that millennials have said that they want to give when they’re in the moment via a mobile-optimized website. We’ve seen this on our own platform and as easy as it is to give via a RAZ Mobile site, I think this sentiment as expressed by millennials applies to other age groups as well. It has to be easy to give on a mobile phone.

What’s more, one need not fill out an online form but once if they choose the option of securely storing their online form information in much the same manner as online music stores or popular shopping sites. RAZ Mobile does this today.

I wonder too at the notion of having credit card information in my phone, PIN-protected or not. That scares me a bit. I have had my wallet stolen and that was not pleasant to experience at all. Mobile phone theft is prevalent and problematic today. I don’t see this changing when so many will give you cash today for a stolen phone, no questions asked.

I’ve also swapped OS once in my mobile life and this means that now I would have to go to the iOS equivalent if I was using Wallet and as you can imagine, not all the places I had used Wallet at would be Passbook (iOS) compatible.

Then there’s the issue of carriers like Verizon being in their own mobile payments network called ISIS. Not every carrier sells Wallet phones nor is every phone sold a Wallet phone.

Merchants that accept Wallet have to buy terminals for accepting Wallet payments. Right now, from what I’ve been able to glean from Wikipedia and other statements about Wallet is that Wallet payments have to be made by swiping your phone on one of these terminals. This model of giving means you have to line folks up to make donations by swiping their phone and you’d have to become a Wallet “merchant”.

Google has created a closed system that you must be part of to use it. They say it’s open but I can’t use my stored credit card to make a donation “off-system”.

This is where the Wallet “gut” feeling lets the expert down and why I don’t see Wallet becoming a force for mobile donations.

How does Wallet leverage social media?

Standing in line to swipe my phone sounds like a silly way to give.

Why not use an online form that lets anyone with a browser give? With the fractious and confusing deployment of Wallet, all nonprofits would get better reach and results by leveraging an online form, completed regardless of where the donor is at.

As you rightly sense from this post, I don’t see Wallet being a viable channel for accessing mobile donations from your supporters. They have the capability to give via their phone today; they have a browser, a credit card and they can complete a simple short form and give when they feel the impulse.

Our customers are seeing this very thing happen. Our largest one day total for one customer’s campaign was over $10,000.

I’m here to predict the expert’s gut has let her down.