Mobile giving is one of the hottest topics in town.

That being said, many people have been throwing the term around without fully understanding its practices or implications.

It’s more than just texting to give.

And that’s precisely why we’ve crafted this essential guide to mobile giving.

We’ll explore everything from the definition of mobile fundraising to its inherent benefits and beyond.

In fact, let’s not play the guessing game; here’s exactly what we’re going to cover:

#1. The Definition of Mobile Giving and More!
#2. What’s the Difference between Mobile and Text-to-Give?
#3. The Many, Many Benefits of Mobile Fundraising.
#4. How Do Most Nonprofits Take Advantage of Mobile Giving?
#5. Tips for Getting Started with Your Own Campaign.
#6. How Do You Use Social Media to Boost a Mobile Fundraiser?

Now that you have an idea of the questions we’re planning to answer, let’s go ahead and dive into the answers!

#1. The Definition of Mobile Giving and More!

Once upon a time, letters were the best way to keep in contact with donors.

And while a nice, handwritten letter is fantastic from time to time, it just doesn’t make good economic sense to constantly send out letters. Especially not when mobile email is 245 times less expensive than direct mail.

All this is just to say that mobile fundraising is quickly becoming a new standard way to give, much in the same way that checks in the mail once were.

But what exactly is mobile giving?

In essence, mobile giving is any act of donating that is facilitated through a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet. Mobile fundraising encompasses several giving avenues, including (but by no means limited to):

  • QR code promotions.
  • Mobile email fundraising.
  • Text-to-donate.
  • Mobile-responsive donation pages.
  • Social media fundraising.
  • Mobile crowdfunding.
  • And more!

Now that you’re aware of the most important term and its definition, let’s take a look at some other crucial terms for understanding mobile giving:

Mobile-responsive design.

Mobile-responsive design refers to a website, email, or application’s ability to respond on a mobile device.

Mobile-responsive websites and emails will look different than the original desktop version on a mobile device.

Buttons will grow larger and easier to press. Text and other content will line up and stack nicely in a way that’s conducive to reading/viewing on a 3” by 5” screen.

Mobile-friendly web page.

These terms might sound like synonyms, but there’s actually a subtle difference.

Mobile-friendly web pages, unlike their mobile-responsive counterparts, do not change in fundamental ways to adapt to mobile devices.

These mobile-friendly web pages, instead, function in exactly the same ways as the desktop version of the same page. They’re simply smaller.

2-factor authentication.

2-factor authentication is a means of verifying a donor’s identity.

It’s a security measure put in place to make sure that each and every one of your mobile donors is a real person–and that they are who they say they are.

The first factor of authentication of a mobile donor is a phone number. The second is typically another personal identifier, like an email address.


PCI-compliant mobile fundraising software adheres to all the stringent standards set forth by the Payment Card Industry.

These standards aim to protect merchants and consumers alike.

There are several levels of PCI-compliance. Make sure that the platform provider you choose is totally compliant.


Tokenization is another term that’s used with regard to mobile payment security.

Essentially, tokenization takes highly sensitive information (credit card numbers) and turns it into “tokens” which can’t be translated by anyone outside of the actual payment process.

Security of information is a critical concern for all mobile donation software companies. To make sure that your donors’ info is safe, work with a platform that employs tokenization.

QR code.

QR (Quick Response) codes are much like barcodes.

They’re black and white patterned squares that provide the user with information when scanned.

Unlike barcodes, which display pricing info, QR codes bring the scanner to a mobile website or mobile donation page.

With those handy terms at your disposal, you’re fully ready to discuss more niche topics under the umbrella of mobile fundraising. For instance: the difference between text-to-give and mobile giving.

#2. What’s the Difference between Mobile and Text-to-Give?

As we discussed in the intro of this article, mobile fundraising is more than just texting to donate.

Mobile giving encompasses all manner of donating done on a mobile device.

It ranges from mobile-responsive donation pages all the way to mobile crowdfunding and so much more.

Any time that a donation is made through some sort of process on a phone or a tablet, it’s considered mobile giving.

Yes, that means that text-to-give is a facet of mobile fundraising. But by no means is it the only way for a donor to give to a nonprofit on the go.

Texting to donate involves a donor texting a nonprofit’s designated text-to-give number, with a donation amount, like so:

Text-to-Give Image

That donation is not added to the donor’s phone bill, but is instead instantaneously processed through a mobile payment processor. It’s just like shopping online–only way more charitable!

In essence, mobile giving is the umbrella term for several different ways to give, and text-to-give is just one of those many ways.

#3. The Many, Many Benefits of Mobile Fundraising.

There are so many upsides to mobile fundraising that it’s hard to imagine narrowing down the list to just a few.

But we’ve thought long and hard about it, and we’ve come up with a short list of the top benefits of mobile giving for both donors and nonprofits. They are as follows:

Mobile giving software gives you a greater insight into your donors.

While you can certainly learn a great deal about your donors from prospect research, mobile giving software is another fantastic way to learn about their giving habits.

Information capture technology provides your organization with more than just names and phone numbers. It also captures the method of giving and the time and date that the donation was made.

Knowing a donor’s unique preference for giving will allow your organization to better target them for future asks.

Not only that, but it also gives your organization a clue for how to communicate when you want them to be involved in other ways–such as volunteering or attending events.

In any case, mobile fundraising can give your organization a leg up when it comes to communicating with donors on the move.

Checks get lost in the mail, but mobile giving is safe and secure.

Cash gets stolen; checks get lost; pledges never get mailed in. With mobile giving, these problems disappear.

Because mobile giving is instant, the donation never even has the chance to get lost in the mail. There’s no cash floating in the wind.

And as for credit card security concerns, those are practically a thing of the past when you choose a provider that’s PCI-compliant, with a payment processor that tokenizes sensitive information.

That way, your organization and your donors can rest easy knowing that donations are going only where they’re supposed to.

It’s one of the easiest, most convenient ways to give on the go.

Over 91% of Americans own and operate smartphones on a daily basis. They use them to text, email, and connect with their social networks.

It only makes sense, then, that mobile giving would be an intuitive way to give. Donors are simply going through the same motions as they would to text an old friend or email a colleague.

Unlike writing a check, stamping and addressing an envelope, and sending a donation on its merry way, giving through a mobile phone is convenient and simple.

Texting to give $50 takes less time than flipping the channel between commercial breaks (and it’s just as easy).

Increased communication means increased donor retention.

Donors give to the organizations that they feel most closely connected to.

With mobile giving technology, your nonprofit can be in constant communication with your donors any time, any place.

Gone are the days of having to knock on a thousand doors to solicit donations. Nowadays, you can send out a thousand personalized mobile emails and get a far greater response.

53% of donors who have left an organization have cited lack of communication as the reason for hitting “Unsubscribe.”

When you have a mobile fundraising platform, you can keep up with all of your donors, no matter where they are.

Mobile platforms offer accessibility for all donors.

Donors come in all shapes and sizes. Why shouldn’t your mobile fundraising software?

There are platforms out there that have your diverse donor base in mind.

Bilingual capabilities ensure that donors can give donations and receive communications in their native languages.

Automatic translations mean that your organization doesn’t have to be fluent in another language to connect with those who want to support the work you do.

All in all, bilingual mobile fundraising software makes donating more accessible than ever before.

These, of course, aren’t the only reasons that mobile giving is a great innovation. But they’re pretty stellar benefits in and of themselves.

Bet you’re curious as to how you can board this fast-paced train, aren’t you?

Read on to find out how several different types of nonprofits have pulled off successful campaigns–and later on, be on the lookout for tips for starting your own campaign.

#4. How Do Most Nonprofits Take Advantage of Mobile Giving?

You might not associate mobile giving with major funds (such as planned gifts), but there you’d be wrong.

If you play your cards right, your mobile fundraiser could mean a large bump in your annual funding.

You might also be under the false impression that text donations are only $5 or $10. When donations are tacked onto a phone bill, yes, that’s the case.

But next-generation text-to-give providers don’t place a cap on mobile donation amounts.

In fact, the average text donation is $107! Which means that some donors give significantly more than that.

So how do most nonprofits take advantage of this fact?

Let’s take a look at the different types of organizations that use mobile giving technology to the fullest:

Churches and other faith-based organizations.

All across the nation, churches and other faith-based organizations are using mobile giving technology to raise money from their constituents–in this case their members and other churchgoers.

In many cases, churches are seeing tithing (weekly contributions, typically a tenth of one’s salary over the course of the month) declining due to people not bringing cash or their checkbooks.

Texting to tithe has essentially solved this issue. Everyone brings their mobile phones to church, even if they leave their checkbooks behind.

Text-to-Give Thank You

It takes just as long to text in a contribution as it would to drop a couple of dollars in the bucket.

Disaster relief nonprofits.

Disaster relief organizations, like the Red Cross, have historically had great success when it comes to mobile fundraising.

The reason these nonprofits have had such phenomenal success is due to the simple fact that mobile giving is the easiest way to donate on the spot.

When disaster strikes, and people want to help out as quickly as they possibly can, texting to give is clearly the way to go.

Mobile Giving Thank You for Disaster Relief

Giving through their mobile phones makes people feel like they’re instantly part of the relief effort…which they are!

Environmental awareness organizations.

Every year on April 22nd, people are celebrating Earth Day, and for the past few Earth Days, mobile donors have been giving to their favorite environmental awareness groups through their phones.

Now, of course, the environment is vital on days other than the 22nd of April, but the lesson to be learned from this tradition is that people love to give when there’s a well-defined occasion.

The same principle applies to #GivingTuesday, a popular giving day meant to combat the insanity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Environmental groups aren’t the only ones who can cash in on major trends. Your organization can easily get in on the latest charitable craze.

Colleges and universities.

It’s no secret that young people are always on their phones. And that’s precisely why so many colleges and universities have chosen to invest in mobile giving technology.

Universities with research and development departments rely heavily on prospect research tools to help them pinpoint the perfect candidates for soliciting donations–both before graduation and afterward.

That technology combined with mobile giving allows colleges and universities in need of funding to target donors and make the asks in a way that works for their donor base.

Since these students and alumni are already on their mobile devices anyway, it only makes sense for them to donate via text or email.

Healthcare and Research organizations

Organizations that specialize in disease or medical research can use mobile giving software at events, in print materials, or just to reach donors on while on the go.

Sending a quick text to a donor who has given in the past to update them on your organization’s latest campaign, study, or research is a great way to keep donors engaged and facilitate the donor stewardship process.

Here are two examples of how organizations use mobile fundraising tools to encourage their donors to give:

While these few types of organizations have created their own spin on mobile giving, they’re not the only ones using the technology creatively and effectively.

All kinds of organizations from educational nonprofits to political candidates to animal rights groups and beyond have been using mobile fundraising to their advantages for years.

Now that you have some real-world examples of the ways that organizations use mobile technology to boost their fundraising efforts, it’s time to take a look at some concrete tips for launching your own.

#5. Tips for Getting Started with Your Own Campaign.

It’s always best to start out at the beginning with the end in mind.

Where do you see mobile giving taking your organization over the next few years?

Are there certain goals you’d like to reach with the help of mobile fundraising?

Visualizing these goals will give you a foundation for planning your actual campaign.

From there, you can build upward and outward. Here are some of the best practices for building the most solid mobile giving campaign in town:

Ask yourself the right questions.

A large part of launching a successful mobile fundraising campaign comes down to starting out with the proper questions in mind.

“Who is going to be in charge?” Will it be a group of people? One person? How will tasks be split up? Who will delegate?

“Which form(s) of mobile giving are right for our donors?” What are your donor demographics? Have donors expressed interest in giving via text? Via email? Through mobile donation pages?

“When is the best time to launch?” Is there a particular event coming up that would be well-suited to mobile giving? Is there a goal you’re trying to reach in a certain amount of time?

Finally: “How will new data be handled?” Will it be integrated into your existing system, or will you create a new system for mobile data?

The answers to these questions will help your organization move forward in the right direction.

Work out any technical glitches.

As with any technology, there are always little kinks in the system.

Before you officially launch, you’ll want to be certain that all the bugs are worked out.

If you haven’t already updated your existing website or donation pages to be mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive, now is the time.

Most of the traffic to your nonprofit’s website is likely coming from mobile users, so you should definitely prioritize updating your website.

Having your board members test out your updated website, mobile donation page, or text-to-give number is a surefire way to pinpoint any weaknesses.

For some stellar tips to make sure that your mobile donation page is optimized, check out this excellent guide:

Clean up your database.

Now, you don’t have to make your database *squeaky* clean. But it should be reasonably free of duplicates and old info.

Segment your donors into those who have given substantially in the past two years, those who have given marginally in the past two years, and those who haven’t given at all. Eliminate the last segment. Further segment the first two.

In addition to cleaning your database, you’ll also want to update any contact info that you do end up keeping. Send out surveys and email blasts to collect the most up-to-date email addresses and phone numbers for your donors.

You can’t reach out to your donors to tell them about your mobile fundraising plans if you have five-year-old email addresses clogging up your database.

Enlist the help of influencers.

Key influencers look different for every organization. But they function the same way no matter what.

They’re the movers and the shakers. Perhaps they’re avid volunteers. Fervent advocates. Well-connected board members.

The point is: these influencers have a lot of scope and sway that they can use to further your cause and boost your fundraising efforts.

To take full advantage of these champions of your cause, look into launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign with them at the center.

Their connections and influence will surely spread the news of your mobile fundraiser like wildfire.

Set realistic goals for each campaign.

Nothing derails a great campaign quite like unrealistic expectations.

It’s important to set reasonable, responsible, and realistic goals for any fundraiser you host. But it’s especially wise to do so with a mobile giving campaign.

Many organizations see mobile giving as an effortless way to raise money. But while it is marvelous, it’s not miraculous.

You’re going to get out of your mobile fundraiser what you put into it.

If you invest in your mobile giving campaign and set attainable goals, you’ll be rewarded in kind.

Market your plans at live events.

One of the best ways to launch a successful mobile fundraising campaign is to market it at a live event.

Just picture this: you have a thousand benefit concertgoers. They’re all raising up their phones and swaying back and forth to the beat. Their collective phones create a luminous glow across the venue.

The song has ended, and you know you should strike while the iron is hot.

So you make an announcement asking people to keep their phones out. You walk them through the mobile giving process.

There you have it: possibly hundreds of donations and dozens upon dozens of new donors.

Now let’s take a quick pop quiz.

Live fundraising events are conducive to mobile giving because:

  • People are already in the giving mood.
  • Everyone has their phone on them.
  • There’s a stage or platform to project from.
  • You have a captive audience.
  • All of the above.

The answer is E) All of the above!

Whether it’s a benefit concert or a 5K fun run, any live event is the ideal time and place for mobile giving.

Always track and improve.

Tracking and improving is a part of any fundraising strategy.

There are several key metrics that you could be studying at any given moment.

These metrics include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Donor retention
  • Donor growth
  • Conversion rate
  • Average gift size
  • Frequency of contact
  • Email opt-out rate
  • Participation rate

If you start to notice any unfavorable fluctuations in any of these percentages or rates, it might be time to reassess your tactics.

On the whole, though, you should see positive results if you follow all of the other best practices to a T.

To truly take your mobile giving campaign to the next level, though, you’ll want to be on your A-game when it comes to social media.

Sharpen your social skills with this next section on how social media sites can enhance your mobile fundraising efforts.

#6. How Do You Use Social Media to Boost a Mobile Fundraiser?

Standing out is hard to do–especially when your donors are flooded with thousands of advertisements in a given day.

But it’s not impossible.

Even in this saturated market, it’s entirely possible to make your nonprofit’s voice unique and your content engaging.

True though it will take some strategizing and a little elbow grease, the work you put into your social media presence will be well worth the sweat and tears (not literal tears, we promise).

Over 65% of people who engaged with a nonprofit’s social media page (liking a post, sharing a photo, etc.) ended up taking some kind of further action. More often than not, that action was donating.

That’s precisely why it’s crucial to hone your social media strategy.

Luckily for you, we’ve got some awesome, actionable tips for the top four sites:

#1. Facebook.

When you’re launching a text-to-give campaign or any other mobile fundraiser, it’s important to enlist the help of the most popular social media site in the world: Facebook.

Studies have shown that Facebook posts with images, like the one below, create far more engagement than posts without images:

Facebook Post About Mobile Giving

Aside from including images, you should also make it a habit to interact with your followers on your posts. If your followers are commenting on or sharing posts that you’ve made, be sure to write back on a regular basis.

#2. Instagram.

Instagram is yet another wildly popular social media site. For those who don’t know, it’s an image-based site that’s most often viewed on mobile phones.

One major best practice to keep in mind when curating your nonprofit’s Instagram is to provide the link to your mobile donation page/mobile website in your page’s bio.

Instagram doesn’t allow users to post pictures with links attached, so the best way to get your followers to check out your website or donation page is to post it in your bio and allude to it in your posts.

This disaster relief organization has the right idea:

Instagram Post About Mobile Giving

They’ve kept their caption short and to-the-point, and they’ve mentioned the link in their bio. They have also hashtagged relevant topics that relate to their cause.

When posting about your mobile fundraiser, you’ll want to curate images that highlight the work that your organization is currently doing.

Are you an animal rights group? Post pictures of dogs being rehabilitated or seals being saved. Are you a church with strong ties to your community? Post images of your latest volunteer day!

#3. Twitter.

Because Twitter limits users’ posts to 140 characters, brevity is the soul of wit. Which is to say, the shorter, the sweeter.

If you can say what you mean in just a few words, and mean what you say, then Twitter will be your best friend.

Take, for instance, this SealSaviors Twitter account:

Twitter Post About Mobile Fundraising

They’ve kept their message really clear and concise, and they’ve still managed to include a link to their mobile-friendly donation page.

Hashtagging is also a popular way to get your tweets to show up in multiple feeds. Hashtag pertinent ‘tags’ to become an integral part of a larger online conversation.

#4. Snapchat.

This is the newest of the four social media apps on this list. If you’re unfamiliar with Snapchat, the whole premise centers around images and videos that disappear after a few seconds.

So wait, how do you promote a mobile fundraiser if your message disappears in 10 seconds?

The key is to make your message obvious and simple and to leave a lasting impression.
This animal shelter has done an exemplary job:

Snapchat Post About Text-to-Give

Any follower could hear that message loud and clear. The bold photo would stick in their minds, and they’d be sure to investigate the Willemette Humane Society as soon as possible.

Videos are also incredibly engaging content for Snapchat. And the good news is: they don’t have to be perfect!

They can be simple, quick, and messy. Perfect for a nonprofit that doesn’t have a ton of time to devote to curating a promotional video every other day.

With these tips and tricks, you’re bound to dazzle your social media followers in no time. Not only that, but you’ll also surely reach new mobile donors left and right.

Raising awareness and money from donors on the go. What could be better than that?

To learn even more about mobile giving, get @Pay’s Ultimate Guide to Mobile Giving.

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