Whenever a nonprofit asks me how they can can raise more money from businesses, one of the things I point to is a mobile-first strategy. This usually confuses them. “So of all the things I could be doing to raise more money for my nonprofit, having a strategy for people’s smartphones and tablets is critical?”
“It is,” I reply. “Certainly more important than sending out another appeal letter, or hosting another special event that no one wants to go to.” Let me explain.
IT STARTS WITH YOUR BRAND
Your success fundraising correlates directly to the success of your brand. The better your brand, the more money you’ll raise. There’s a good reason why nonprofits such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make a Wish and Share Our Strength are so successful, especially with cause marketing. They have outstanding brands. Compare their successes to the waning fortunes of struggling brands like Komen for the Cure and Livestrong Foundation.
Although we can define a brand as what people feel when they come into contact with your organization, a nonprofit brand is different from a for-profit brand. As Jeff Brooks has explained, a nonprofit brand makes two promises:
1. To have an impact.
2. To communicate that impact clearly, powerfully.
Nonprofits need to focus on building their brands. And while most nonprofits are having an impact, they do a terrible job communicating that impact. That’s why creating and publishing content on social networks is so important to the success of your organization.
BUT EVEN PUBLISHING CONTENT ISN’T ENOUGH
Okay, so say you take my advice and start a blog. And let’s assume that you don’t just start a blog. You actually create something that features interesting, engaging and timely content. That’s fantastic! You have so much success you start a bi-monthly email newsletter. Then a month later you revisit your Facebook page and really start updating and engaging supporters. Hooray!
But if you could look behind you and see your path on social media, you’d be a bit disappointed.
Many years ago, there was a popular television series called Kung Fu. In it, the main character, Kwai Chaing Caine, must walk a strip of rice paper to show his master (who calls Caine “Grasshopper”) the lightness of his footsteps. In the series pilot, Caine walks gently on the rice paper. Still, when he looks back the paper is torn.
You too have walked the rice paper by producing interesting and valuable content. That’s good! But your efforts have fallen short because you didn’t publish content in step with a mobile-first strategy. That’s a major fail, Grasshopper.
If you had performed the above activities with a mobile-first mindset, you would have still started a blog, email newsletter and Facebook page. But you would have approached them differently.
- With your blog, you would have made sure your posts are optimized for mobile, which means they can be easily read on a smartphone or tablet.
- With your email newsletter, you would weigh the number of images to include. Most smartphones only have a four inch screen, so limiting images and picking the right one is key.
- With Facebook, images and video take center-stage. If you’re not including them in your updates, mobile viewers (68% of Facebook users access the site via mobile) may never see your update.
THE TRIFECTA: BRAND, SOCIAL MEDIA, MOBILE
Do you need a strong brand? You bet. Should you share the impact of your organization through social networks. Of course. But if you are not optimizing your message and content for mobile devices, you’re leaving a lot of value on the table.
Think of it this way. If you buy my argument that brand is a key driver of fundraising success, that nonprofits should share their impact and that social networks are a powerful publishing channels, why wouldn’t you want to broaden your reach by focusing on mobile devices? That’s where your supporters are – and I can prove it.
Consider this sampling of numbers reported in the Wall Street Journal last week. The percentage of time spent on social networks, mobile vs. desktop.
Facebook: 68% mobile, 32% desktop
Twitter: 86% mobile, 14% desktop
Pinterest: 92% mobile, 8% desktop
Because of mobile, supporters are carrying your nonprofit in their pockets. That’s why you need to see everything you do through the mobile screen. If people aren’t reading, viewing or engaging with you on their mobile devices you may not earn their support or draw the attention of potential business partners.
As we learned from Caine earlier, walking the walk isn’t good enough. Each piece of content needs to be created and published with an eye toward the mobile device on which it will likely be viewed. Only then will we leave a trail of success.
For more detailed, mobile-first data, view the Statista post referenced in the Wall Street Journal.