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Unlike Facebook, Nonprofits Don’t Get an IPO

While it’s still up for debate how Facebook (FB) stock will fair, one thing is for sure, there’s some pretty unhappy folks.

I can’t go a day without seeing an article or tweet about their lack of mobile strategy,  or how they will monetize mobile in the long run for investors.   How they’ve gotten as far as they have without an IRON CLAD mobile strategy based on today’s mobile tsunami is beyond me.

For the last 3 years I’ve been passionately educating nonprofits on the need to go mobile.  And I get it.  Technology has still been evolving, platform partners haven’t been as aggressive as they should in adopting a mobile strategy for thousands of nonprofit clients.  And while the Facebook’s of the nonprofit sector, National Wildlife Federation, Susan G Komen and the like have adopted mobile technology and marketing, the overwhelming majority have not.

Frankly it’s starting to get under my skin!

Here’s why:

If nonprofits had to answer to shareholders, those shareholders would look at 1 primary goal:  Show me the money.

In theory, if Facebook is getting slammed by analysts and investors for not having a mobile strategy because that’s where users are – why should we not be looking at our nonprofit organizations the same way?

Now, mind you, I’m all for what nonprofits do to support our communities. I’ve been on that side as a fundraiser.   However, if you simply look at viability to stay in business and move to engage where customers are, then look at what 80% of nonprofits are doing to mobilize their fundraising, advocacy, program and operational areas (ps, answer is NOTHING) I can tell ya:  I would NOT be investing in these nonprofits!

People can balk at my comments all they want, but it won’t change the truth.

Excuse of no resources for mobile investment no longer works. Find it. 

  • Dig though that budget and see what’s being spent in areas such as direct mail, promotion, supplies.
  • Find partners in your community that care about your cause, are forward thinking smartphone owners & have the capacity to give.
  • Research and submit proposals with innovative foundations who get it.

They are not taking a gamble here.  A full 50% of US adults own and use Smartphones – the number jumps to over 75% for those under 44 years old.  These numbers are only going up and will continue until near saturation hits.

If nonprofits believe waiting another 6 months, year or more to make this investment and think this inaction won’t impact their bottom line, I’ve got more news.  You may not see sharp declines right away, but the longer you wait to develop and execute on a mobile strategy, the more people will dis-engage with your cause, diminishing your brand.  Evolution really – survival of the mobile fittest.

Last week’s release of donorCentrics Index of National Fundraising Performance – paints a sobering picture.   Overall, donations are down.  So are new donor acquisitions, a critical issue as large donors continue to cycle out.

The only type of nonprofit that saw an INCREASE in new donors last year were Social Benefit nonprofits.  What do they do?  Lots of Advocacy.    Online petitions have enabled acquisition of multi-channel donors.  Younger, social, mobile donors.  

But What if it Doesn’t Work?

To elevate this discussion and create mobile buzz amongst nonprofits, we’ve launched our Atlantic BT 25K Mobile Grant Contest.  So many are fearful of screwing up – of spending budget on mobile, then not seeing ROI (Return on Investment).
But it’s really nothing more than the following:

  • Conduct your research
  • Set your Goals – (new advocates/donors, more clients served, more money raised etc)
  • Create your mobile strategy
  • Execute the technology
  • Market & measure
  • Adjust accordingly

Will your mobile strategy and results be without flaws? Will Facebook go bankrupt?  Of course not!   Mobile marketing and mobile technology is still evolving (will be for awhile) technology partners are catching up, roads are still being paved.   So jump on!  Or soon, your “investors” will be asking “why have you not?”


I’m speaking on mobile engagement and strategy at  AFP’s TechKnow Conference June 4th in Orlando, FL.  Join me, tweet me or reach out directly at tonia.zampieri(at) and let’s talk about your nonprofit’s mobile strategy.


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