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Mobile Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations

We live in a world of ever increasing connectivity. Our technology allows us to keep in touch with the world in ways we could hardly dream of just a generation ago. In recent years, we've even made the jump from computers at home and telephones on our person to the ultimate hybrid—the smart phone. The age of mobile fundraising is here.

There are so many advantages to mobile donations. People want to give, but may forget or lose interest if there is a delay between their impulse to give and the actual donation. With mobile donations, the funds can be sent immediately, while the giver is engaged in the cause. Unlike mailing a check or giving a percentage through payroll deductions, mobile fundraising works because it engages the giver in the moment.

There are more than one billion smart phones on the planet. These phones are checked at all hours, which allows nonprofits to make contact with donors at any time of the day. Most mobile fundraising requires the download of an app, but today's smart phone users are so used to this idea, that it is no longer a hurdle if the app is easy to find and presented clearly. People are now used to shopping from their phones as well, so the idea of sending funds via their smart phone is something they are already comfortable with.

Mobile donating also minimizes the amount of effort the givers need to expend in order to make a donation. Any hurdle between the desire to give and the ability to get a nonprofit a donation is a time when the donor may give up or lose interest. By utilizing mobile donating apps, organizations can maximize the donations they receive.

There are a few potential complications to using this method of fundraising, however. Most apps, as well as their payment portals, have fees that can impact the total amount received. There may also be fees associated with sending or receiving the actual texts. Keeping this in perspective, it may still cost less than the expenses associated with mass mailings or in using call centers to contact potential donors. The fees for payment portals would still apply to any money gathered through a credit card or PayPal using more traditional methods.

Some apps will assess a charge that the donor pays when they pay their phone bill. These charges can create a thirty to ninety day delay between the actual donation and the nonprofit receiving the funds. If the charge is set up to be recurring, this may not be a large concern. If this is a one-time donation, however, it could cause issues if the organization hasn't adequately planned for the delay.

Another issue is that of recurring gifts. One of the best methods to keep your organization funded isn't through single donations, but through programs that create automatic donations on a regular schedule. Not all mobile apps allow for recurring donations, however. Because of this, the initial stream of gifts will be high, but there may be time and energy costs in repeatedly asking for more funds. If this is an issue, the nonprofit should be sure to use an app that allows for recurring payments.

Perhaps the largest issue with mobile fundraising is that some apps will limit how much money can be sent in a single donation. If the organization is soliciting smaller, individual donations, this may not be an issue. However, if it is likely that donors would be contributing more than is allowed with the specific application, this limitation can have a strong negative impact on the overall fundraising goals.

One more specific concern is that Apple products do not allow apps that specifically request money. The app can suggest that a donation be made, and can even link to your company webpage, but it cannot directly solicit funds. Because of the large market share that Apple holds, it is imperative that there be a fundraising portal directly on the organization's website, and that it be simple, clear, and easy to read on a small screen. It would be a shame to lose a donor when they cannot easily navigate the nonprofit's website.

Thankfully, nearly any concern about the limitations of mobile apps can be mitigated with proper research. Making sure that the app selected for the organization meets the goals of the campaign is critical, so it is important to understand what applications are available, and what their limitations and potentials are. In order to meet these needs, some organizations build their own apps to generate interest. Because of the expense, however, this isn't possible for all nonprofits. Some common mobile fundraising applications that can be tailored to a specific organization are:

• Connect2Give
• Razoo
• RazMobile
• JustGiving
• Give by Cell
• DonateNow

For those who still need convincing, here is a real world example of successful mobile fundraising. In the wake of large scale catastrophes, The Red Cross is on the scene working to help people and to save lives. This organization raises incredible amounts of money through text donations that go directly to the organization. There are other ways donors can give to The Red Cross, but none are as quick, easy, and allow for such immediacy as making a mobile donation. If it works for The Red Cross, it can work for other nonprofits.

Smart phones have changed the world of nonprofit fundraising, allowing donors to give immediately while their interest is at its peak. By finding the best option for their organization, nonprofits can reap the benefits of giving in a technologically savvy age.

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