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Part one of a three part series on mobile giving

Life has gone mobile. For many, life is lived on the move and cell phones and mobile devices are our guides helping with communication, directions, purchases, music, news updates, videos and more. “Mobile” has become the way much of America is using their computer. iPhones, Androids and BlackBerries are replacing laptops and desktop computers. Tablets and mobile phones are replacing the way that people access the information when they are on the road.

Think, Zappos, your airline…. People use their mobile phones and tablets hundreds of times a day. They have made the leap and many – especially younger people – expect the nonprofits they support to have user-friendly technology. Consumer-based businesses have made the shift. Now it’s time for the non-profit sector to do the same.

Ask yourself, your staff and your board members the following questions. How quickly and easily can people give to your nonprofit? Do they have to write a check? Fill out a form and send it in? Can they give in the moment? At a football game, concert, conference, or while in church? Can people use their cell phone or mobile device to give now, or do they have to wait and make the gift later?

While large gifts are made after careful consideration, many gifts are made as an emotional response to a well-orchestrated call to action. If you miss the emotional moment you miss the gift.

Here’s an example. It’s your annual gala. Your guests are assembled. They just heard a powerful and motivating talk. The room is a buzz. The speaker closes with “Text the word GIVE to 45678 and you instantly become part of the solution.”

Your guests start texting and they immediately receive a link to your mobile giving page – or better yet, a mobile giving page customized for your gala. They enter their information into the page and their gift is made. On top of that a thank you note is automatically generated and sent out right away. Done!

Compare that to the traditional “envelope ritual”: envelopes are set out for people to use for their gift or pledge. Ideally a check goes check inside. Maybe they write a note – “will give $100.” If supporters are daring, they will write down their credit card number so staff can run the card after the event. But, very few people carry checkbooks anymore. So the emotional moment is lost and the actual giving of the gift is delayed and may, or may not, ever occur.

Bottom line: Nonprofits need to adapt the most commonly used tools to connect and engage supporters. It is simply part of today’s capacity and infrastructure. And it is directly tied to nonprofit communications and fundraising.

Next post: details on mobile giving – our conversation with David Asheim, CEO of Give by Cell.