Mobile giving is a term that gets passed around a lot. And even though it’s been around for over a decade now, it’s still a hot topic.

As soon as the Red Cross raised roughly $42 million dollars for the Haiti earthquake relief using only text messages, you’d better believe nonprofits all over the world were curious about this new way to give on the go.

Chances are, if you’re a nonprofit professional, you’re curious about it, too.

That’s precisely why we’ve created this comprehensive article — to guide you through the ins and outs of mobile giving.

Want a sneak peek into what we’re going to cover? Check out this table of contents:

#1. Mobile Fundraising: The Basics

#2. Differences Between Mobile and Online Giving

#3. The Main Mobile Giving Types

#4. Common Mobile Fundraising Terms

#5. Top 4 Ways to Use Mobile Technology

#6. Best Practices for Mobile Fundraising

#7. Getting Started With Your Own Campaign

And if you’re looking for an even more in-depth look at all things mobile fundraising, check out @Pay’s Ultimate Guide.

#1. Mobile Fundraising: The Basics

First things first, let’s take a look at the basic definition of mobile giving.

Mobile giving, in essence, is the raising of funds through any of the various applications on a mobile device— whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or regular cell phone.

Therefore, any device that has the capability to send messages, access the internet, or download an app has the ability to send money to a nonprofit or faith-based organization.

More often than not, though, people within the nonprofit industry use the term “mobile giving” to refer solely to text-to-give.

And that’s fair. Text-to-give and mobile giving are like poodles and dogs. All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles.

In that same way, all texting to give is mobile giving, but not all mobile giving involves texting to give.

Regardless of what you call it, it’s one of the most popular ways for nonprofits to raise money— and retain more donors on the go.

#2. Differences Between Mobile and Online

Now that we’ve discussed some of the main differences between texting to give and mobile fundraising, let’s take a quick look at how mobile giving and online fundraising differ.

On one level, mobile and online giving are essentially the same. Many mobile giving avenues require internet access, and a lot of the same mobile giving actions can be done on a computer.

That being said, mobile giving and online fundraising are not synonymous.

In order to be considered mobile giving, the transaction must take place on a mobile device.

Even if it’s the same website that you could easily load on your desktop or laptop computer, if you submit a donation through it on your phone or tablet, it’s technically mobile giving.

Of course, there are also giving avenues that are entirely unique to mobile fundraising.

Those facets include things like QR codes (which can only be scanned with an app on a mobile device) and texting to give (which can only be executed through a phone’s native texting application).

The final verdict: Although they have many overlapping features, mobile giving and online fundraising are fundamentally different.

#3. The Main Mobile Giving Types

We’ve already hinted at a couple of the main types of mobile giving, but we thought it might also be a good idea to give you a window into all of them. Right here.

What are we waiting for? Let’s dive right in!

  • Text-to-Give

One of the most popular ways to give on the go, texting to donate simply involves a donor texting a nonprofit’s number with the amount they’d like to give.

It looks a little something like this:

-1

Texting in a donation really is as easy as it seems.

  • Mobile Email

Mobile email fundraising is another one of the top mobile giving avenues.

Since most nonprofits already have their own email newsletters, it’s not a stretch to add a mobile fundraising component.

In order to raise significantly more money through existing email channels, all you would have to do is to add either a link to your online donation page or a mobile email donation button, like the one pictured below:

-2

That way, an email recipient only has to click on that button and confirm their donation to give $50 to your organization.

  • Donation Pages

Speaking of links to your online donation page, let’s take a moment to talk about mobile donation pages.

Mobile donation pages, like the one featured below, allow donors to give in a familiar fashion:

mobile-donation-form-artsnc mobile-donation-page

They’re already used to giving just like this on their desktop or laptop computers. Mobile-friendly pages take that same experience on the move with responsive design.

  • Giving Apps

Mobile giving apps range from simple, one-note applications all the way to complex and multifaceted pieces of software.

Depending on your nonprofit’s budget and needs, you may want to invest in creating or signing up for a mobile giving app that also sends push notifications about upcoming events and opportunities.

Alternatively, you may choose to go with an app that simply allows donors to give in just a few clicks.

Either way, adding a mobile giving app to your repertoire is a great way to fundraise on the go.

To sum up this section: There are 4 major types of mobile giving software: text-to-give, mobile email donation buttons, mobile donation pages, and mobile giving applications. All are great options for raising money from donors who are constantly on the move.

#4. Common Mobile Fundraising Terms

With the most popular types of mobile giving software under our belts, it seems like the perfect time to delve into some common mobile fundraising terms you might come across as you’re doing research about mobile giving.

From A-Z, the top mobile giving terms you’ll need to know are:

  • Information Capture

Information capture, to put it simply, automatically stores pertinent data about donors as soon as they give via mobile. The data that’s captured is anything from name and phone number to birthday, donation amount, and frequency of giving across the board.

  • Mobile-Friendly

Mobile-friendly webpages are those that are built to fit the specifications of a mobile device. They’re designed to work well and look best on smaller screens.

  • Mobile-Responsive

Unlike mobile-friendly pages, mobile-responsive pages have been built to respond to various screen sizes. Just as water conforms to whatever glass it’s poured into, so does a mobile-responsive page conform to whichever device it’s displaying on.

  • Native Texting App

Standard on most smartphones is something called a “native texting application.” Simply put, it’s the means by which a smartphone user texts.

  • PCI-Compliance

PCI-compliant mobile giving software companies are those that adhere to the strict guidelines of the Payment Card Industry.  The official standards can be found here.

  • Short Code vs. Long Code

This definition is a two-for-the-price-of-one. Historically, short codes have been 4 or 5 digit numbers that donors can text to give to charity. An example would be: text “HAITI” to 9099— the 9099 is the short code.

Long codes are similar, but they’re more like actual phone numbers and are more specific to an organization. Donors can then save these numbers as they would with any other contact.

  • Social Fundraising

Social fundraising, also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, is a way to raise money on the go by enlisting the help of your existing donors to spread the word on social media or in person.

  • Two-Factor Authentication

In addition to PCI-compliance, another measure that mobile giving software companies use in order to keep information safe is two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication involves a donor texting (or emailing) to donate and their phone number being verified via email (or some other factor).

Next steps: With all of those common terms now tucked away with the most popular mobile giving types, we can finally move on to some practical application— with the top 4 ways to use mobile technology!

#5. Top 4 Ways to Use Mobile Technology

Of course, there are dozens of different ways that mobile fundraising technology can be used to advance a nonprofit’s goals and objectives.

But for the purposes of this article, let’s just take a look at the mostly widely used means of employing mobile software:

  • Direct Asks

Direct fundraising asks are always difficult to make. They become easier, though, when you can include them in your next email blast or on your nonprofit’s social media page.

Your nonprofit (or faith-based) organization can craft posts—like the one below—that ask donors to give directly and detail exactly how to use mobile giving technology:

King's House donation

And just like that: the problem of awkward asks is solved in one fell swoop!

  • One-Time Events

Mobile fundraising technology works perfectly with one-time events—like charity auctions or fundraising carnivals— because a donor doesn’t have to mail in a check later or wait until they get home to give.

They can give right on the spot!

If you’re interested in how charity auction software can help your nonprofit go the extra mile, click here to learn more.

  • Recurring Events

In much the same way mobile giving technology makes it easier for donors to give at one-time events, it also makes it incredibly intuitive for donors to use during recurring events.

Events like church services, weekly gatherings, or other meetings are the perfect times to break out your mobile giving app or text-to-give software and encourage members to contribute.

Instead of having to mail in a check once a week or once a month, all your recurring donors would have to do is text you their contributions!

  • Particular Projects

If your nonprofit is looking for a great way to raise funds for a specific project, look no further than mobile fundraising technology. The immediacy of mobile giving makes it perfect for raising money for more concrete campaigns.

As soon as a donor hears about your latest campaign, they can easily tap their phone a few times and contribute to a noble cause. How marvelous is that?

The point is: There are myriad ways to use mobile giving technology and dozens of places and times to do so. But the top 4 are: at recurring and one-time events, for particular projects, and for direct asks.

#6. Best Practices for Mobile Fundraising

As with any type of fundraising, there are best practices that any wise nonprofit professional would do well to follow.

Luckily for you, we’ve gathered together the cream of the crop when it comes to mobile giving best practices :

  • Pair online and offline fundraising strategies.

Traditional marketing tactics, like billboards and bus stop advertisements, pair remarkably well with mobile giving. As do promotional products.

When you’re looking to spread the word about your text-to-give campaign, don’t forget about classics like flyers and posters!

  • Offer multiple giving options.

Studies have shown that donors enjoy having multiple options for giving. It’s also been proven that providing these different giving levels encourages donors to give more than they might have otherwise.

When given the choice between $25, $50, and $100, if a donor were intending to give $40 originally, they’ll more than likely choose the $50 option— even though it’s $10 more than they intended to give. Be sure to include a justification of that amount.

  • Sprinkle in obvious calls-to-action.

When you’re updating your nonprofit’s mobile website or creating pamphlets for your next gathering, you might want to try sprinkling in some clear calls-to-action, reminding them that they can now give via mobile.

Invite volunteers and members to become mobile donors. Entice existing donors to become recurring mobile givers. And so on and so forth!

  • Give thanks to your donors.

The best way to keep mobile donors interested in your organization is to thank them sincerely. In addition to the automatic message of gratitude that most mobile giving software allows you to send out, you should also make the effort to write letters or make personal calls to thank donors.

In need of some help crafting the best thank you letters and emails? Look no further than @Pay’s guide!

  • Have a variety of mobile giving avenues.

Not every donor will want to give via text message. Likewise, some donors won’t want to give through their email inboxes.

In order to make everyone happy (and keep them donating!), it’s important to have multiple avenues through which to give.

Next steps: Now that you’re aware of the best practices when it comes to running a mobile giving campaign, it’s time to learn about how you can get started with your own!

#7. Getting Started With Your Own Campaign

Whether you’re hosting a penny social or launching a text-to-give campaign, the steps for getting started remain largely the same.

To make it as easy as apple pie (or giving on the go!), we’ve broken the process down into 5 major steps:

  • Step 1: Examine your existing fundraising.

Take stock of where your fundraising programs are at the moment. Are you meeting your goals? Where could you improve? How could adding a mobile giving option or two take you where you want to go?

  • Step 2: Pick the giving avenues that work for you.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to have more than one giving option for donors. Survey your donors and figure out which particular avenues work best for them— and for your organization.

  • Step 3: Decide on a mobile giving software provider.

Find a mobile giving software provider that works for and with your organization to achieve the best results. Don’t forget to look for providers that offer both two-factor authentication and PCI-compliance.

  • Step 4: Weave mobile into your existing fundraising.

Once you have a reliable provider, you’ll need to figure out the best ways to integrate mobile giving into your existing fundraising plans. Making the transition may take some internal adjusting, but it shouldn’t be a difficult integration in the end.

  • Step 5: Track and analyze data to improve over time.

This final step should actually be performed throughout. Track data points and metrics that are important to you as you go. At the end of the campaign, go ahead and analyze your data and look for patterns to help you improve moving forward.

The point is: There are only a few steps standing in between you and launching a highly successful mobile giving campaign.

There you have it! From the basics of mobile giving all the way to the steps for launching your own campaign, we’ve really covered it all!

Hopefully you’ve picked up a new tip, trick, or two.

If you’re interested in further reading on the topic of mobile fundraising, be sure to check out @Pay’s blog for all the latest!

Eric Griego

Eric Griego

Director of Business Development at Snowball
Eric Griego is the Director of Business Development at @Pay, a simple and secure giving platform that provides donors a seamless way to give on a mobile device. He has implemented effective fundraising strategies for hundreds of Nonprofit & Church organizations. In his spare time he roots for the Denver Broncos while enjoying a nice craft beer.
Eric Griego

Latest posts by Eric Griego (see all)