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.

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