Archive | February, 2014

“We gave your info to our IT guy.”

26 Feb

the it guy

I can hardly keep the grin off my face as I type this week’s post.

I’ve heard this week’s title quote from a couple nonprofits in the last few weeks and it has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard from anyone, let alone hearing it from a nonprofit.

It’s funny to me because I envision an IT guy having say-so at a nonprofit over the digital tools they use and I wonder how far the IT guy’s decision making power goes. Is he picking the office furniture? Is he picking the coffee in the coffee pot? Maybe he wears a crown as the chief picker of things at these nonprofits.

If your nonprofit lets the IT guy pick digital solutions for you to use you have it all wrong I am sorry to say. And I mean this in the best way.

IT is a support role. Repeat it 3 times. IT will always be a support role. IT guys are supposed to do what you tell them to do, not the other way around and this is especially true with nonprofits and tech trends like the rapid shift to a mobile-first internet.

Your IT guy should be the deliverer of solutions that you ask him or her to deploy in support of your mission and goals. Think if what you would want a mobile solution to do and then tell the IT guy to find solutions for you to evaluate. When you choose one the IT guy is supposed to support you not pick for you.

Look, I know you’re not alone in having the IT role define things instead of instructing them to support your goals. I worked at Sprint and far too many products created at Sprint were tinged with IT mandates and rules and little thought given to the customer or the changing dynamics in the marketplace. Thus, more than a few flopped miserably.

If mobile is, as I believe it is, the future of engagement and fundraising then your IT guy had better be a rockstar because there are many much higher paid IT guys in the for-profit space that still can’t figure out mobile (see Microsoft).

So when you say to me that you gave our information to your IT guy I always want to say but never do “Why in the world would you do that?”

What you’re really saying is “We’re only going to be as good as our IT guy in pursuing our mission.”

And this makes me laugh and smile because I don’t think the people who say this have ever turned the tables and thought about how silly they sound. It would be like me saying I gave your direct mail piece to my tax preparer.

I can see your IT guy looking at our platform and coming to the conclusion that using RAZ Mobile looks like work and well, he says, “I’m not really into work.”

Truth be told we like to think our platform is super easy to use. If your IT guy is responsible for your mobile solution(s) chances are you’re going to overpay and be underwhelmed by the results if he’s making the decisions for you. And sadly, you’ll be the one responsible for the results of something he chose for you.

Last thought to share on this topic-when it comes to looking at mobile solutions don’t give our info to your IT guy. Give it to a millennial and ask them if if they would make donations to you via a mobile-optimized site. The majority will say yes.

Is your nonprofit the Buick of the 1980s or the Buick of today?

19 Feb


What if you were 24, an automotive designer fresh from design school and you were offered a job at Buick?

As late as the early 2000s, had this happened, you would have learned that while Buicks are all the rage in China, the average Buick buyer is 60+ years old and has been since GM dominated back in the 1950s.

In the 1980s the formula worked; selling rolling couches to those who like to get from point A to point B without fanfare. In this setting you likely would say no to the job and move on to a sportier brand.

Were you offered the job today however, you very well might take it since Buick has moved to a sportier image for it’s brand in order to appeal to a younger audience and to save itself from extinction.

130-ish words into this week’s post and you might be wondering where I’m going with this and how it pertains to nonprofits.

Is your nonprofit the Buick of the 1980s or the Buick of today?

Phrased directly-are the majority of your donors in their 60s or are you paying attention to the donors of the future?

How long can you make a living going after the same group of donors?

Buick saw the writing on the wall and made a shift. They had to. As the population started entering the target age for buying a Buick it turns out they didn’t have any interest in buying a Buick.

My grandparents had 2 Buicks and by the time I could afford a car Buick wasn’t  a consideration at all.

I believe this is the case as well with nonprofits. Some will struggle mightily to be relevant to younger donors and some might perish. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Some nonprofits have not changed their brand message/image in decades. Some focus very hard on 60+ year olds, year in and year out to be the donors that carry them.

Perhaps worst of all is many nonprofits think that they can make you give to them using only the methods they choose for you. This would be like Buick advertising that their cars get from point A to point B like any other car so although I know you want a sporty ride Mr. Youngbuyer, you should just buy a Buick from me.

I know it sounds like a lot of work for your nonprofit to try to cater to younger donors but you’re going to have to cater to them at some point. As they age they will bring their mobile phone habits with them and as it pertains to giving they will likely not at all have the same habits as their parents and grandparents.

This is what Buick focused on. They asked themselves “Where are the next Buick owners coming from?” and they changed their image, their product line and as a result, their average buyer.

So what do I recommend for your nonprofit to follow the Buick example? 3 things.

1. Make the donor of the future a regular topic in all your board meetings. Develop a simple profile and list their habits and attributes.

2. Stop dilly-dallying on mobile. You may think that you can go mobile anytime you like and be an expert and you’d be wrong. It took me 4 years t learn mobile TV when I was at Sprint and I was laser focused on it all the time. Go mobile today.

3. Task a member of members of your board along with 1 or more staffers with laying out your plan for mobile and then empower them to execute on it so you can begin to learn about how mobile fits in with your nonprofit and what tactics show the most promise. This way, you go mobile, you experiment to see what works and then refine and repeat what works.

Do you remember Oldsmobile? Packard? DeSoto? At one time they thrived in the automotive world and then their average buyer dried up as new demographic groups came along with different tastes and habits.

Nonprofits, take my advice. Be the Buick of today.

Mobile is the social media conversation extender

12 Feb

conversationThat social media is popular is nothing new. At Facebook they would say that for them, they see their mobile users as addicted to their application on mobile phones. Twitter is relying on mobile advertising (along with seemingly every other mobile start-up) to carry them to stratospheric heights or as least as high as their current valuation.

For many of us social media is more of a spectator sport albeit with many potential points of engagement where we can be part of the conversation or activity. Social media is a great place to snack on many topics and trends.

But what happens when I want to know more about what interests me when I see post in social media?

Let’s focus on Twitter for this discussion. Usually, there are link(s) in tweets. I’m not sure of the percentage but it seems high to me and that’s OK. What’s not OK with me is when the content I am taken to via the link in the tweet is meant for a PC and not my mobile phone. You see, I over index on using Twitter from my phone and I get frustrated when I have to wait for the linked content to load and pinching and swiping is equally frustrating.

Some content platforms have mobile-optimization and I admit to feeling a sense of relief that the content  in the tweet that interested me is something that I can read right then on my phone.

For nonprofits it’s really important to realize that all the social media platforms consider themselves as mobile-first and are preparing daily for a very, very mobile-centric future. With this realization comes the need and the opportunity to extend the conversation with your followers with something that renders quickly and allows them to take action right then and there on their mobile phone. When you present your content in social media it needs to render well (responsive design is the buzz phrase for this) on all devices, especially a mobile phone.

If what your nonprofit says in social media is of interest and you want your follower to learn more you really should extend the conversation with them via a mobile-optimized website or page. Having a link in your social media posts that points to a PC site/content it will likely result in the same frustration I have felt and there’s research that says the chance for a relationship with new and existing supporters is greatly diminished.

From my point-of-view, the conversation that goes on between a non-profit and their supporters is one long, ongoing conversation that needs to be devoid of dead ends like those provided by PC links on a mobile phone.

I know that you may be asking yourself if you are at a nonprofit “Does it really matter if I extend the conversation? Can’t they just go to my website?”

The answers are “Of course” to both questions. But you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to miss 1 in 4 who are mobile-only internet users.

As 1 in 4 moves to 1 in 3 I don’t think you’ll be able to wait much longer to offer the right way to extend the conversations you start in social media.

If you want to extend the conversation with your supporters and engage them then a mobile-0ptimized site is a must have and not a wait-until-later option for nonprofits.

3 reasons to look beyond text-to-give

5 Feb


Here’s 3 pieces of third party content about the status of text-to-give. I myself have said many times that it’s on its way out and I can understand if people think I have to say this since RAZ Mobile is a highly appealing alternative and to us-the best way to go mobile for nonprofits. Fact is……text-to-give has it’s uses but as I am quoted in the Mobile Commerce Daily piece below: are we teaching donors to only care about the largest nonprofits only when there is epic destruction?

Consider that the need of those in need is persistent no matter the number of hurricanes, tsunamis or earthquakes.

The 2 podcasts listed here are RAZ Mobile customers offering their own opinion.

Here’s the Third Sector Today podcast featuring our customer Heart to Heart International.

Here’s the Chronicle of Philanthropy podcast featuring our customer ArtsKC. (This one’s a hoot since the “expert’ recommends the use of text-to-give and ArtsKC immediately offers a firsthand rebuttal.)

The Mobile Commerce Daily article below points to the inevitable upheaval in a market run by the carriers for their revenue benefit alongside their premium text message aggregator pals.

Read this to learn more about the upheaval in test-to-give.

Perhaps I was overzealous in thinking that I would not be blogging much about text-to-give in 2014. It does have its place in fundraising. However, for the large and growing majority of nonprofits looking for easy and effective mobile fundraising text-to-give is not the solution they are choosing.