Seven considerations for boosting mobile giving in 2014

The success of the Disasters Emergency Committee's Philippines appeal should encourage charities to review how they can capitalise on the growth in mobile fundraising, says John Simcock

John Simcock
John Simcock

With the recent publication of staggering figures from the Disasters Emergency Committee about donations via mobile for the Philippines Typhoon appeal, many charities will now be reviewing how to capitalise on the current growth in mobile fundraising potential. The DEC announced at the end of November that £6m of the £65m donated thus far was given using tablets and smartphones..

However, while the DEC figures are impressive, other recent research suggests more than half of people still give up when trying to donate by mobile, and it’s mainly because the navigation process is still too long for many people.

So what are the issues you need to overcome, and what are the best ways to move forward if you want to maximise mobile giving? As we move towards the new year, here are a few areas you can focus on to boost mobile donations in 2014:

- Most obviously, you need to make sure your mobile site is optimised for different devices, especially Apple devices. Of the £6m donated to the DEC appeal, £4.4m was sent via iPhones and iPads. But remember, it’s not enough to simply arrange content so it can be viewed on a mobile device. You also need to make sure that devices are automatically detected and then catered for. 

- It’s also important to ensure information loads quickly, regardless of device. If you don’t, you run a serious risk of losing the donor. The best way of doing this is to make sure visitors are taken directly to the mobile site, rather than using the slower but common process of taking people to the main site and then passing them to the mobile version. We can learn a lesson here from political campaigners who have worked out that every second of delay can cost you 7 per cent in visitor-to-donor conversions.

- It’s not just about recognising and adapting content visually for devices: you also need to ensure the donor’s journey is as short as possible. Remember, every extra click you ask of a donor will lead to fewer donations, so you need be ruthless. Use a CMS such as Sitecore and you will find this a surprisingly easy thing to do.

- We know that mobile giving via text is already huge, especially if you have big media budgets to drive campaigns, but remember: it’s all about user choice. According to the Philippines appeal figures from the DEC, £1.3m has been donated via text messages, but £5.7m was given by PayPal, including £1.75m on tablets and smartphones. The most important thing is to integrate a range of payment options into your mobile channel. As the DEC says: "We have seen that sending text donations is increasingly popular, and offering people the choice to give via PayPal accounts has also made the process of donating via mobiles, tablets and computers much faster and hassle-free for many." Creating choice and catering to individual user preferences is key.

- Think about how you can also foster a long-term relationship with a donor, even when the initial interaction was a small donation via text. In fact, there is research that shows 12 per cent of people who donate by SMS sign up to become a direct debit donor when telephoned by the charity. A further 18 per cent agree to make regular donations through their mobiles.

- We should also be mindful that the biggest givers are from the older generations, and that they are almost as likely to donate online as their younger counterparts. Indeed, evidence from the same research suggests that every generation uses every channel, so it’s important that you keep all age groups in mind when putting together your focus groups, your content plans and your mobile campaigns.

- Finally, don’t forget that mobile is an opportunity not just to attract donations but also to foster a longer term relationship and promote other channels. The British Red Cross, for example, is capitalising on increasing traffic to its mobile site, which increases massively during a major appeal, by including a clever GPS feature that helps provide content about local services and events that are relevant to the user’s location. This helps to provide ongoing support for marketing campaigns promoting local British Red Cross services, continuously drives foot traffic to local shops and also helps to reduce calls to the contact centre.

John Simcock is charity client director at IT services provider Eduserv

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