Archive | March, 2014

Is it mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized?

26 Mar


They’re the same right? Hardly.

Do not adjust your smartphone.

The images above are a side-by-side comparison of two mobile donation pages captured as screen grabs off my iPhone 4.

The images are the same size-no parlor tricks here. (The one on the left is somewhat longer due to the easier to see buttons.)

So-which one is mobile friendly?

It’s easy right? It’s the one on the left. Cue game show buzzer-you’re wrong. It’s the one on the right. Or at least some purveyors of mobile solutions to nonprofits would tell you that the one on the right is “mobile-friendly”.

If you were a donor wanting to make a donation “in the moment” which page would you prefer? This is a vital question as your nonprofit gets ready (hopefully you’re ready now-if not what are you waiting for?) to face the 80 million strong millennial generation. In the 2012 Millennial Impact Report millennials themselves said that although over 80% of them had used text-to-give they would prefer to give via a mobile-optimized website when they are in the moment.

And here’s the rub. There is a huge difference between “mobile-friendly” and “mobile-optimized” and both terms are constantly being mis-used by a great many service providers and nonprofit experts serving the nonprofit space.

The two images point out the wide disparity between truly optimized for mobile on the left and barely navigable on the right.

Let’s rephrase the differences in 2 ways. 1) let’s call mobile-friendly “they might” and let’s call mobile-optimized “they can” and 2) let’s call mobile-friendly “first action pinch and swipe” and let’s call mobile optimized “filling out the form”.

In the first rephrase there is ample 3rd party reporting on how annoyed mobile visitors are with pages that don’t render well. A report last year from the agency Open Fundraising suggests that you’re losing up to 50% of your donations if giving on a donors phone is too hard. Even with the poor quality screen grab from my phone ask yourself which of those pages above will be easier and faster to complete “in the moment”? A donor might complete the form on the right if they are willing to pinch and swipe. For the donation page on the left, they can choose their amount and move on to complete their donation on a page that requires no pinching and swiping, over and over again, page by page.

The second rephrase is the one your nonprofit can use to test which solution your nonprofit should deploy. That is to say if the solution you’re evaluating requires the first action by the donor to be pinching and swiping to see what’s on the page then label it “first action pinch and swipe”. If the other solution’s first action is like the page on the left above then call it “filing out the form”. With the form on the left aren’t you closer receiving a donation? By starting to fill out the form the donor is actually engaged in making a donation and not wasting their time trying to figure out the starting point of making their donation.

When looking at mobile-friendly versus mobile-optimized please put yourself in the shoes of your donor. You give them the mobile option of making a gift and you inspire them to do so. They see the image on the left or on the right. The one on the right requires pinching and swiping and this results in time wasted by the donor. As the clock ticks and it takes longer for them to find satisfaction, your cause is getting closer to losing them.

Simple things like this can make a huge difference between a completed donation and a frustrated donor. A completed donation means they are in line to give again and hopefully become a loyal, repeat donor.

Frustration could mean they never try again. Ever.

10 things to look for in a mobile platform for your nonprofit

19 Mar


With 1 in 4 in the US being mobile only on the internet and the online channel for donations being the only one growing, “going mobile” needs to be a priority at all nonprofits. Some of the larger ones have already gone mobile and depending on how they executed their path to mobile, they are already reaping the benefits. (Some have gone mobile and yet their mobile experience leaves a lot to be desired.) So let’s say that the need to address mobile is self-evident. At some point the 1 in 4 will turn into 1 in 3 and at that point mobile will be beyond an imperative. It could be existential to your nonprofit.

To help your nonprofit evaluate the paths you can take to go mobile I wanted to share some attributes you should consider when making your decision on how you go mobile.

Cloud-based or build-your-own

With a cloud-based mobile platform you have the chance for much lower costs versus building your own mobile site and the advantages extend from there. With cloud-based services you typically get new features for free and you can learn successful tactics from those around you that are on the same platform. By building your own mobile solution the costs can be large, however you can get much more customized in your solution and yet customization could mean even higher costs. With the mobile mantra being “less is more” customization and a wealth of features may never yield a return. Also, security is often easier to achieve on cloud-based platforms.

Feature rich and somewhat customizable

You’ll want to look for a mobile platform that is very comprehensive and somewhat customizable but again, as pointed out above, custom features may yield little if mobile giving follows PC giving. By this I mean that the primary use of PC sites by donors is to give and not to learn about you so having a custom, multi-page mobile donation experience is likely going to cost more than it’s worth.

But you will want to post content on your mobile site and you will need tools that help you share your mobile presence and you will want reporting and campaigns for any event or purpose. Many services today are just a mobile landing page that when a visitor taps on “About Us” for example, it just takes you back the PC page for your “About Us” content. This really isn’t a very good path to going mobile.

Contract or no contract

I like services that don’t have contracts since it makes me feel that they will keep me happy and that makes me a loyal customer versus keeping me captive for a period of time. I also would look for a service that doesn’t charge for consulting. I am amazed that some do. You nonprofit’s success should be paramount to the mobile platform provider you choose. I would lean towards one with no contract.

Easy to get started and easy to use

Many of the platforms I’ve looked at require a lot of human interaction to get started. I was told of one service provider in this space requiring a Social Security Number from a staffer. Huh?

If it takes a long time to get started, that’s valuable staff time and in many instances it’s an indication of how easy it is going to be to use the service.

Many platforms available require you to use their merchant services and this often slows down the getting started process as well. Bottom line, you should be able to get your nonprofit up and mobile ready in less than an hour.

DIY (Do-it-yourself) or ‘human-heavy”

Dove-tailing nicely with the previous attribute is the notion that an advanced and capable platform should be DIY and not rely on talking to a human for campaign creation, reporting and content management. DIY means you can do what you want and when you want to. Again, some platforms will charge for the number of campaigns and the campaigns can only be created by their staff, not yours. To me, this is like needing someone to pump your gas or connect your phone call. DIY is the way to go for maximum benefit and flexibility for your nonprofit.

How many taps to make a donation?

This one always amazes me-the number of pages a donor has to go through to make a donation. Bottom line here-choose a service that makes mobile giving easy!

Make repeat giving easy

Along with the point above is the notion that the second donation is more important than how easy the first donation is to make. Repeat donations should be even easier. With today’s technology you should favor a platform that makes repeat gifts super easy and secure especially on a mobile phone. You donor is on the go so give them a way to avoid having to complete the donation form entirely to make repeat donations. This is a HUGE attribute to look for in my opinion.

Improves your mobile search rank

With Google now demoting search rank if you don’t have a mobile optimized website, the platform you choose should help with your search rank. Some mobile platforms are just mobile-friendly (notice I did not say optimized-there is a difference-optimized is better than friendly) donation pages. These won’t fix the Google demotion issue.

Easy to spin up as many campaigns as you need

You never know when the need will arise to raise money. The mobile platform you choose should allow you to spin up as many campaigns as you need in minutes not hours. Chose a platform that puts you in control of all your campaign needs and results.

The donors are your donors

This one applies mostly to crowd-funding type platforms but I would always go with one where my donors stay my donors and won’t be asked later to give to another cause. New donors are hard enough to find let alone keep so make sure your donors stay your donors on the mobile platform you choose.

In summary, all of these attributes are in our platform and were part of the list of things we offer our customers.

7 takeaways from our most recent customer success story

12 Mar


Two mobile donations of $1000 as part of $14,000 raised from March 1, 2014 to March 10, 2014 via mobile phones by one nonprofit on our platform.

These two facts from this nonprofit’s campaign in March should help allay the fears that no one will give via their mobile phone. If a nonprofit “expert” says no one will give via their mobile phone it’s likely due to the reliance on a non-optimized donation page which is not the correct strategy for going mobile.

Here’s the takeaways I have to share with you about this nonprofit’s amazing success story. They are one of our newest customers and we are thrilled to be serving their mobile engagement and fundraising needs.

They are a small organization

Being successful in raising money is often thought to be difficult for smaller organizations. Small nonprofits often have limited staff and budgets and this can make campaigns a challenge. The main fundraising vehicle, direct mail, is a challenge as well for small nonprofits since scale is expensive with direct mail and often just a break even exercise. With over half the nonprofits in the US operating under $100K annually, effective fundraising solutions for nonprofits are essential to their survival. Takeaway: Mobile fundraising will yield donations no matter how large your nonprofit is.


There are more donors with credit cards than PayPal accounts and yet this success story is one that involved using PayPal to accept the donations. I have spoken to many nonprofits that don’t like PayPal and I get emails from friends commenting about some of our customers using PayPal saying that they won’t use it. The beauty here is that either way, PayPal or merchant account, the donations were in the hands of this nonprofit immediately. Try that with text-to-give. Takeaway: Although not the ideal way to accept online donations, PayPal works.


This particular RAZ Mobile customer launched in under an hour at the end of February in anticipation of this campaign. Their stated goal was to get up and running quickly for this campaign. State-of-the art, cloud-based platforms like ours make going mobile fast, secure and easy. Along with getting started fast, the act of giving was equally fast with an easy-to-navigate and fast-to-load donation page. The “I’ll do this later” attitude from donors was reduced as evidenced by the fact that this total was achieved in just 9 days. Takeaway: If it’s easy to get started and even easier to give going mobile should be an imperative for your nonprofit TODAY. Put the power to give in the palm of your supporters hands.

Donations and donors

$14,000 raised from 230+ donors yields an average gift of about $60. Takeaway: Stop thinking that mobile donors are going to make small donations. Also, there’s no way to get $60 average gifts let alone two $1000 gifts with text-to-give. Text-to-give is mobile disaster fundraising. This success story is about real mobile fundraising.

Get a team to help you

In this case there literally was a local sports team helping the nonprofit with this campaign. The team camped out on the roof of the nonprofit’s office and said they would not come down until their overall goal of $25,000 had been met. Mobile wasn’t the only channel used to reach the goal but it played a big part. The beauty of having support from an organization is that it helps you avoid burning out your core donors. The team in this success story approached their network of friends, family, social media followers, etc. about supporting the campaign. Takeaway: Partnering with others is a great way to expand your campaign’s reach and attract new donors.

Repeatability and scale

This success story will likely turn into a repeatable occurrence for our customer and not only next year but with other campaigns that involve another helping organization. We’ve seen scale achieved by many of our customers using our platform in workplace giving. Takeaway: Coupling the scale of mobile phones (66% penetration in the US, 83% penetration among millennials) with the reach and scale of helping organizations is the way to maximize mobile fundraising.

Return-on-investment (ROI)

This customer’s ROI on our platform was 2314%. Takeaway: What channel do you have today that extends your reach to anywhere, anytime and helps you reach new and existing supporters AND offers the chance to achieve a 2000%+ ROI? This level of ROI awaits you and you should go mobile TODAY!

“Millennials don’t come to our events.”

5 Mar


In 2010, The Pew Research Center released a comprehensive report on the US population group known as Millennials. They are defined as those born between 1982 and 1993 and are in the age range between 21 and 32 years old. The Millennial generation is estimated to be about 77 million in size and this is larger than the Baby Boomer generation and three times the size of Generation X. According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report 83% of them have a smartphone.

The quote that is the title of this week’s post was said to me in a kind of exhausted tone by one of our customers. I understand the frustration he felt and can empathize with a nonprofit wanting to do the same thing over and over and expect the same or better results.

And yet he’s right. Why is this?

I asked a couple millennials and I heard “that’s what my parents do” and “they’re boring” and “I don’t know anyone there”.

So as a nonprofit what are you to do about pulling millennials closer to you?

I would start with inviting some in and talk to them about what they are looking for. I bet if you do this you’ll notice one thing they have in common. Their phone is in their hand the entire time and many will think nothing of checking it while you’re talking to them.

Were you the one to be texting them, Facebooking and tweeting to them during the time you’ve asked them to come in and talk, you would likely get their attention. Mobile and social is their life’s center.

Given that you can’t keep asking them to come in and talk to you, where would the predominance of the conversation take place if you are able to reach millennials? The answer is their phone and in social media.

Blackbaud reminds us that by an almost 2:1 margin people visit your website to give and not to “check you out”. Instead, millennials go to social media for fresh content, to see what you’re saying and to see what others are saying about you.

You can only imagine what the “give to check you out” for millennials look like.

The equivalent of your event for them is an ongoing stream of content coming from you via social media. This is where they learn about you and engage and share and also where the path to a donation can start. Trust me on this last one. If you would stop relying on your PC donation pages to be your mobile donation pages since your PC pages are too laborious to complete on a phone (or a PC), donors will give via their phones via a mobile optimized donation page. We see it every month.

So yeah, millennials likely aren’t interested in your event and that’s OK. Have you thought about events specifically for them in social media? One of our customers had an event in social media and reaped over $10,000 in one day. Millennials are just not big gala type people. If by some chance they did attend your event and did see their parents there or the parents of a friend at your event that’s not acceptable to them.

Put bluntly, millennials live on their phones. This is where to reach them. Asking them to come to you via your event isn’t how it works for them. You have to go to them and again, the best place to reach them is their phone and in social media.

Get a millennial(s) on your board, empower them to create tactics to reach millennials and give them your full support. Sooner than you think (as in right now) you will need millennials and their support.