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What Do You Fear Most? Nonprofits Need to Get Mobile F.I.T.

Had a great call today with a development professional from a large health-related nonprofit.  Her voice panicked, she was wondering how I could help arm her with next generation engagement tactics and information to build up their list of new donors.    Her fear?

Her large, established (dare I say archaic?)  organization could eventually go by way of dinosaurs – extinct.   Size, complexity, bureaucracy, steeped in traditition.  None of these words sounds even remotely like innovative.

This fundraiser is far from alone.  Most larger, even some small and mid-sized institutions, do not embrace change well and they certainly aren’t fearless.

In fact, they are fear-FUL.  Of making the wrong choices.  Of choosing the wrong technology.  Of focusing budget on the wrong things.  Of looking incompetent to their bosses. (Even though the status-quo is not cutting it!)

Ten years ago, this was not a concern.  Ten years ago there was less competition.  Fewer channels to market through.  Frankly, fewer differing generations to communicate and engage with since people weren’t living as long.  You had brand recognition, people blindly gave without question because there was no transparency in the system. Now everything is about transparency and group-think.  Ask Bank of America, Netflix and Susan G Komen.

Don’t end up like these guys (Courtesy of

Those newer nonprofits sprouting up who opened their doors recently with little more than inspiration?  Um, they did so out of frustration.   Frustration over slow-moving bureaucracy and inability, or refusal, to innovate.

They ARE the younger generations and thus know which messaging, channels and technology will connect with their (ehem – YOUR future donors).

They (new nonprofits and generations) are also the ones most quickly adopting mobile technology. 

Survival of the fittest is the name of the game.

So how to get F.I.T. on mobile. 

Focus.  Innovate.  Test.

1.  Focus 

As a large (or even not so large) organization, you likely have a lot of different programs, so many in fact,  it  may be impossible to know where to begin to innovate in mobile.

Pick one audience or program and drill down.  

I”m not talking their demographic, WHO are they?

  • “Bobby” who works a full and part time job but a client of your food pantry because he can’t afford rent, transportation or enough food for he and his two kids.
  • “Angela” who is bullied in school for being new, overweight and latina (who can’t speak English well) but doesn’t feel she has anywhere to turn with her parents being immigrants.

Their persona.  What do they need?   What types of technology are they using? What is the program that’s being delivered.  Is it mission focused (ie. delivery of services) or operationally focused (ie. managing your volunteers or fundraising events)?

2.  Innovate

Next, look at mobile technology options as a whole, including: mobile web, SMS text, mobile marketing, QR Codes, smartphone applications – how is your audience using each of these mobile technologies?     How will this program be delivered and organized differently through the mobile channel?  How about offline marketing and delivery?   Examples of how to build out a scale-able mobile strategy, while newer and therefore scarce, do exist.

3.  Test

Test and fail fast!   Set up metrics, landing pages and potentially other slightly intricate integration to facilitate accurate results that will give you the data you need to make adjustments.  Everything is much more precise now – people’s behaviors can be monitored, tweaks can be made to get desired results.

Campaign Mobilization Example 

MADD Power of Parents Campaign
Thank you page to capture metrics

In early 2012 MADD launched their Power of Parents Campaign.  Atlantic BT built out a simple mobilized site that corresponded with billboard and bus wrap adds in select markets.   Our client’s primary objective was to get more parents educated about how to talk to their kids about binge drinking.  Their secondary objective was to grow their list of potential supporters by capturing emails and starting to build a relationship online.

Parents could review certain items of value created by the organization, but in order to receive their free handbook, site visitors had to provide their email address, which a pdf version was then sent to.  While only a one month test campaign in few markets, the mobile site was visited over 16,000 times and collected hundreds of new emails.  While not a permanent program, this campaign with mobile integration are precisely the types focused campaigns innovation and testing I’m referring to.

Yes, funding is scarce.  But you aren’t doing your mission any good by not innovating.  In fact you may very well be wasting funds on things that don’t work and eventually that fact will be clear as day.  ~Tonia

Are you ready to get F.I.T?  Get a kick-start by joining our $25,000 Atlantic BT “Give’s Back”Grant Contest.  All semi-finalists will receive a FREE mobile strategy session with our mobile team.  Join our mobile conversation at our Facebook Contest Page too!

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