Worst nonprofit mobile friendly advice everJust over a week ago, I saw this tweet from a self-proclaimed “social media expert”:

#Google is requesting all websites are mobile friendly by April. Use #socialmedia instead and avoid the expense of #websiteredesign

This is horrible advice. The worst ever. At first, I was embarrassed for this guy. He probably means well. Google is upgrading its search algorithm on April 21 and is using mobile friendliness as a factor. (Click here for more on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update.)

Then I started getting worried that nonprofits might actually take his advice. After all, his Twitter bio claims over 2 million “likes” on his Facebook page and over 18,000 executive connections on LinkedIn. These vanity statistics hopefully don’t sway you, but they could make this sort of “advice” seem legit.

So, I turned to some social media experts to get their reaction to his advice.

9 Social Media Experts’ Comments Nonprofits Going Mobile

Mary CahalaneMary Cahalane

No expert, but I knew enough to make that a big consideration when I was choosing a theme and putting my own site together. And believe me, if I could do it, it’s easily done!

Having worked with and at smaller organizations, Marc, I think it’s likely the site they have was developed at a time when making changes was expensive and time-consuming. It usually required getting in touch with the company who put it together, paying them for the time to make the changes and waiting until they could get to it. (I remember disliking much about one website I had to work with – this was always the obstacle to making changes that would improve our fundraising).

So it may also be that the same organizations who haven’t updated aren’t doing so because they still think the process has to be expensive and time-consuming. And that they won’t be able to manage the result themselves. But that’s just no longer the case. So much has changed in the last 5 years!

Jessica DallyJessica Daily

As someone who has worked through multiple web designs in the last years I can say without question there isn’t a web designer out there who would design a website for you that isn’t mobile friendly. Let me restate that… Not one you should consider paying a single penny to.

If your site is old enough that it isn’t mobile friendly it’s due for an overhaul anyway as it is, without question, horribly out of date and not simply because it’s not mobile friendly but because it was likely designed many years ago. Has your nonprofit or business not changed at all in that time? Then like your website, your nonprofit is going the way of the dodo.

If you aren’t showing that you are changing and growing why would you expect anyone to contribute? “Hey look! We’re doing the same old thing with the same old results!” That’s what an outdated website screams to potential funders.

I should also add that when I run ads on Facebook for my for-profits and nonprofits I have at least 50% mobile users, sometimes it’s almost 100% mobile users. It’s never less than 50%. If this is how people are accessing the web why would you ignore 50% or more of your audience? Would you deny 50% or more of your potential donations?

Mordecai HoltzMordecai Holtz

Responsive sites are the easiest way to amp up your sites for mobile. here’s a post I just found http://www.sitepoint.com/10-ways-make-website-mobile-friendly/

Brands not reacting to this trend are basically acknowledging their lack of interest to iterate and modify their marketing content and brand to fit the technological realities and changing landscape of tomorrow. It would be a shame to see so many orgs/nfp’s (other brands too) fail and become irrelevant over such a simple integration.

Chris TuttleChris Tuttle

If someone’s website does not meet the minimum standards of “mobile friendly” as of today, it’s likely long-overdue for an overhaul anyhow. Even if this advice were practical (and unless one plans on being active and up-to-date on over 200 social networks around the world, it’s simply not) I would still agree with Google’s efforts to de-prioritize non-mobile friendly websites as an archiving method.

Mark HallmanMark Hallman

That is terrible advice… anyone who spent their time building up their brand on MySpace instead of a website would be suffering the consequences now. My advice when I hear that kind of discussion is that we own our websites and we do not own our social media profiles, so behave accordingly.

Responsive design is standard practice now, definitely not a barrier to entrance for a mobile ready site.

Nora BratholNora Brathol

The importance of having a mobile friendly website cannot be overstated. If you put a call out for donations on a social network like Twitter or Facebook, where the majority of users are on mobile devices, and then link to a site where it is difficult to actually donate, you’ve likely lost that donor.

Mickey GomezMickey Gomez

At my last nonprofit (small and geographically based), we saw mobile use steadily climbing in the past year to the point where it is simply no longer an option to have a site that isn’t mobile friendly.

And equating a web presence with social media is simply disingenuous. You own your web content, you manage it, you curate it and oversee it.

Social offers critical communication opportunities (engagement, information sharing, etc.) but you don’t own the content. If the platform goes away, so does whatever your agency shared there.

That’s why websites still exist – they are still the storage hub for information that you can choose to share via any number of platforms. The key is responsively managing content in a way that makes it accessible to users (mobile friendly, apps if/when feasible, easy online donation options).

…I realize most of this was already stated but I’m just stunned by the very idea of the advice given in the screen capture you shared and had to weigh in.

All of these responses were great. Possibly my favorite responses were from John Haydon and Jenna Sauber:

John HaydonJohn Haydon


Jenna SauberJenna Sauber

Ditto to John Haydon.


Bite the bullet and upgrade your nonprofit website

When people read my book on nonprofit social media, they are surprised to find chapters on your nonprofit’s website, developing a blog, and growing your email list. Social media is a great tool, but it’s not a substitute for your own website. Putting all your eggs in Facebook or Twitter means you could lose everything if they go out of business. Or if they simply change the rules.

Your nonprofit can keep your connections with supporters by having your own site and email list. With tools like WordPress, it’s neither hard nor expensive. And like the experts show above, mobile friendly is now normal.

Bottom line: Take the time to make sure your site is mobile friendly – that it is able to be viewed on phones and tablets. These are only going to grow in use. And, as of April 21, Google will now be using mobile friendliness as a factor in mobile searches. So having a mobile friendly website will help donors find you, from whatever device they choose.

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