Mobile seems to be gaining momentum as the 'next big thing' in fundraising.
It's strange, considering just how long charities have been using the medium. I'm not sure if this is the first example of text fundraising, but Bluefrog created this ad way back in 2002 for Shelter (building on the popularity surrounding Big Brother).
It worked. And we've continued to use text as a recruitment vehicle (primarily for press and TV advertsing) either for small gifts or to give people a chance to raise their hand and show interest in a cause.
It didn't take a genius to identify that it was the follow-up that was important. Because you have a telephone number, you're able to call the donor and convert a significant number of them to regular giving.
But with today's smart phones we can do a little more than that.
This presentation from Just Giving shows a massive increase in the number of people visiting justgiving.com from mobile devices. They've seen a growth rate of nearly 82% in 2011 (and that's just up until April).
They have also identified a pattern of mobile use that we've seen on a number of Bluefrog's specialist donor engagement charity sites. They call it snacktime browsing.
Snacktime browsing happens whenever people have a few minutes to go online on their mobile phone. As this JustGiving chart demonstrates, visits from a mobile device are much less prone to the peaks and troughs you tend to see when people visit from a desktop machine.
This is happening at a time when we are seeing huge growth in the number of people using their mobile phone to give through traditional texting. The UK's Haiti moment occured with Comic Relief 2011, when over £15 million was raised through 4.3 million text donations.
The fact is, the mobile phone allows us to get an interactive donation form in the hand of the donor within seconds of them seeing or hearing our appeal. And that's what makes it so special. We know that the desire to give to a cause can quickly fade. The mobile phone gives people the chance to give exactly when they are most emotionally engaged. And, as we know, donors tend to reward convenience.
It's still new technology, so it's not surprising that mobile giving seems to be most attractive for those aged under 35. But, this isn't a bad group from which to recruit regular givers.
But whether we are talking to younger or older donors, offering easy access isn't enough, we have to make sure donors find the use of mobiles satisfying too – otherwise we'll soon find the growth that we are currently seeing will flatline and stall.
nfpSynergy have some advice for us on that point...
"In the early days of the web, charities had a tendency not to know how to include the Internet in their paper-based campaigns. So they didn’t, or they added a web address and hoped for the best.
The new wave of mobile pioneers needs to learn from this and make sure that their campaigns integrate the mobile in as a key part of their communications portfolio.
A TV ad can encourage people to send a text which in turns sends them a web link with which they can visit a campaign microsite. Mobiles and text can act as the links between different parts of the campaign."
If you need any help on putting together a paper on why your charity might consider investing in mobile fundraising, the nfpSynergy study contains a number of case studies that you might find useful.
For a US view, take a look at Ready. Set. Go Mobile for information on mobile fundraising in America.
You'll find more case studies and information at the Association for Interactive Media and Entertainment. And even more at MobileActive (US based).
For up to date statistics on mobile use in the UK, Ofcom is not a bad place to visit.