In this article, guest blogger and Crowdster partner John Killoran of @Pay shares his perspective on mobile fundraising faux pas.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a gardener.  It’s the dead of winter, and spring seems forever away. But still, you’re planning your garden.  This year,” you think, “I’ll plant a mighty oak tree.”  

Before you get started, though, you have to do your research.

  • What are the most common mistakes?
  • When is the best time to begin?
  • How do you make the best of the materials at hand?

Just like planting a majestic oak tree, launching a successful mobile-enabled fundraising campaign takes:

  • Planning for all eventualities.  
  • Avoiding common mistakes.
  • Making the most of what you have.

In this article we’ll explore some of the most common mistakes that nonprofits make when they’re running mobile fundraising campaigns–and of course, how to avoid making those mistakes yourself!

You can use the following links to skip ahead to any particular section. Just click below:

#1. Neglecting New Email Marketing Strategies

#2. Failing to Promote Mobile Giving at Live Events

#3. Assuming You Know Everything About Your Donors

#4. Forgetting to Explore Different Giving Avenues

#5. Passing Up Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

#6. Leaving Social Media Out of the Picture

#7. Not Thanking Donors

Let’s spring into these problems and dig into their solutions!  


#1. Neglecting New Email Marketing Strategies

Did you know that over one-third of all online fundraising revenue comes from email?

And that more than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices?

That said, one of the biggest mistakes that nonprofits make when they’re trying to raise money is forgetting to ramp up their email strategies.

More often than not, nonprofits will maintain the status quo with their email marketing. It’s worked for years; why switch things up now?

But that kind of thinking is what drives donors away and negatively impacts your emails’ click-through and conversion rates.

Some of the biggest faux pas when it comes to mobile fundraising are:

  • Keeping a desktop-friendly format.
  • Using the same old headlines over again.
  • Overwhelming readers with text.
  • Not incorporating an easy way to give.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to combat these tendencies.

How to Avoid This Mistake:

First and foremost, your emails must be mobile-responsive.

What does it mean to be “mobile-responsive”?  

Simply put, it means that your emails load and function just as well on a mobile device (a phone or a tablet) as they would on a laptop or desktop computer.

To make your emails more mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly, your nonprofit can:

  • Design your messages vertically, rather than horizontally.
  • Optimize loading speed.
  • Incorporate fewer blocks of text.
  • Limit your images to one or two meaningful pictures.

In addition to making your emails more mobile-friendly, you should also be crafting your messages with the preview pane in mind.

This means pushing your most important content and branding to the top of your emails. That way donors are able to view the relevant information before they decide whether or not to open your message.

The final–and most revolutionary–way to improve your mobile email strategy is to incorporate a donation button within your message.  Most nonprofits just include a link to their online donation page at the bottom of their emails. This practice leads to low conversion rates and increased donor frustration.  When donors have to click out of their emails and onto a donation page (that’s not designed for mobile), they have to pinch, scroll, and zoom to try to fill out the dozens of required fields.

Help them avoid this hassle by plugging in an easy-to-use email donation button that will allow them to give in just two clicks (within their own inbox!).

For more tips on how to optimize your email marketing strategy to raise significantly more money, check out @Pay’s Email Marketing Guide.

Final takeaway from this section: Prioritize and optimize your email strategy. It’s one of the most effective and inexpensive means of communicating (and fundraising).


#2. Failing to Promote Mobile Giving at Live Events

Mobile fundraising and live events go together like peanut butter and jelly.   But many nonprofits spread the jelly on the bread and forget to add the crucial peanut butter. Nobody wants just a jelly sandwich!  Okay, your mobile fundraiser won’t be like a jelly sandwich if you don’t promote it at a live event, but it will be half of what it could be.

How to Avoid This Mistake:

This blunder has a very obvious fix.  All your nonprofit needs to do in order to get the word out about your mobile fundraising efforts is to make them a part of your next live event.

How do you make mobile giving an integral part of a fundraising or volunteering event?

It’s really quite easy!

You’ve already got all of the proper ingredients:

  • A captive audience.
  • A platform from which to announce.
  • A way to demonstrate your fundraiser.
  • And of course, the spirit of giving!

Mix all of those ingredients together, and you’re well on your way to a recipe for success.

For instance, you can:

  • Pass out flyers with QR codes that link to your mobile donation page.
  • Ask participants to take out their phones and text to give.
  • Demonstrate mobile giving on stage with instructions on projectors.

The best part of promoting your mobile fundraiser at a live event? Widening your reach beyond the event itself.

In addition to engaging with the donors that are present at your event, you also have the possibility of influencing their friends, families, and acquaintances.  After the event is over, it’s highly likely that your donors will tell their social circles all about your text-to-give campaign or your QR code promotion.

And just like that: you’ve cast a wider net!

If you’re looking for ideas for fundraising events that work well with mobile fundraising campaigns, look no further than 101+ Fundraising Ideas.


#3. Assuming You Know Everything About Your Donors

One huge mistake that a lot of nonprofits make is assuming that there’s nothing left to learn about their donors.  When you’re launching a mobile fundraiser, it may seem safe to assume that young people are the only ones who like to text-to-give.  Or that only people over the age of 45 are interested in emailing.  In both cases, you’d be incorrect.

The average text-to-give donor is actually 49-59 years old and college-educated.

And surveys have shown that millennials overwhelmingly prefer email over all other forms of contact.  Of course, for your donor base, the opposite could be true.  The mistake is not figuring out how your donors prefer to be contacted. Especially if you have the resources and the capabilities to do so.  You also can’t always assume that just because a donor only gave $10 via text that they’re not also major gift donors.  You never know–until you do your homework!

How to Avoid This Mistake:

“Doing your homework” involves:

  • Sending out surveys.
  • Conducting prospect research.
  • Tracking key data metrics.
  • And more.

Obviously, surveys are a surefire way to figure out donors’ giving preferences and to learn a little bit more about them as people.  If you know their likes and dislikes and take heed of their suggestions, you’ll have an easier time marketing to them and improving your overall strategy.  In addition to sending surveys, your organization can also conduct prospect research.

Prospect research can help you figure out:

  • How likely a donor is to give again.
  • Whether or not they’re potential major gift donors.
  • What other organizations they support.
  • And more!

You can use this type of information to move forward with your future asks.  Prospect research won’t tell you the whole story, though. For the side of the story that involves your nonprofit alone, you must look at your own data.

With mobile fundraisers, you can track key data points, such as:

  • Frequency of donations.
  • Donation amounts.
  • Mode of communication used to donate.

This information is helpful in deciding whether to call, email, or pursue further donations in person.

The key is continuing to learn about your donors. Preferences change, as should the way you reach out to your mobile donors.


#4. Forgetting to Explore Different Giving Avenues  

It’s easy to do: you find a comfort zone, and all of a sudden, you haven’t switched up your style in over 10 years.  But when it comes to fundraising–mobile fundraising, especially–you have to make sure you’re in-the-know about the latest techniques.  True though direct mail is a classic, it’s also 245 times more expensive than email.  And flyers are still groovy–but you can take them to the next level with QR codes that link directly to your online donation pages.

Speaking of donation pages, is yours mobile-ready?

There are dozens of options to explore, and you’re bound to find one that revolutionizes the way you and your donors view giving on the go.

How to Avoid This Mistake:

You can avoid this mistake fairly easily.  Mobile fundraising has so many different avenues–and you don’t have to go down all of them.

But you should try at least one new technique for raising money.

There are so many options ripe for the picking. Why not take a look at something new?

Within mobile fundraising, there are:

  • Text-to-give campaigns.
  • Mobile email fundraisers.
  • QR code promotions.
  • Downloadable apps for donating.
  • Social media fundraising campaigns.
  • Interactive fundraising thermometers.
  • Mobile and online donation pages.
  • And more!

The sky really is the limit.  Once again, you don’t have to commit to all of these options–or even any of them, if they don’t suit you. But you may be surprised!


#5. Passing Up Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

When you’re planning a mobile fundraiser, you can absolutely go it alone. You can certainly rely on the capabilities of your trustworthy staff.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  The mistake comes when nonprofits fail to see the value in tapping into their existing donor bases.  They think that peer-to-peer fundraising is overrated. Or maybe they think that their donors wouldn’t be interested in lending a helping hand.  Whatever the case, they pass up on a fabulous opportunity to widen their networks once again (just like we talked about in the second point!).

How to Avoid This Mistake:

The best advice you can get for avoiding this mistake is just to look into peer-to-peer fundraising for your organization.

First of all, what exactly is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Before you can explore it as an option, you need to know what it is.  Essentially, peer-to-peer fundraising s a method of fundraising that leverages your supporters to fundraise on your behalf.

Peer-to-peer is also known as:

  • Social fundraising.
  • Personal fundraising.
  • Team fundraising.
  • P2P fundraising.

To get started with a peer-to-peer fundraiser, your organization needs to seek out your greatest supporters.  Then, once you’ve chosen your advocates, you’ll need to provide them with the necessary tools to fundraise on your behalf.

You may want to provide your supporters with:

  • Marketing materials.
  • A crowdfunding platform.
  • Pre-written copy for emails.
  • Helpful infographics.
  • And more!

With the necessary materials in hand, they’ll be able to start reaching out to their social networks and raising money on your behalf.  They can use social media, in-person asks, email, and more to spread the word.  Curious about how to use social media to enhance peer-to-peer fundraising? Check out Salsa’s top-notch tips and tricks.  By the end of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you’ll not only have raised a significant amount of money, you’ll also have broadened your reach and gained new followers.  All of the people that your existing donors contacted will now be aware of your organization. Some will become recurring donors. Others may volunteer.

In the end, it’s a win-win-win.


#6. Leaving Social Media Out of the Picture

Most nonprofits these days are on at least one form of social media..  Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, there are ways to optimize your strategy to enhance your mobile fundraising efforts.  If you’re not already on at least one social media site, now is the time to join.

It’s not too late to get involved in the relevant conversations that are happening right now on the web.

How to Avoid This Mistake:

Did you know that posting on Facebook 1-4 times a week drives 70% more engagement?  What this means for your organization: there are tons of simple ways to drive engagement on social media.  And more engagement on social media means more potential donors for your mobile fundraiser.

So what are some basic social media tips?  

Broken down by major site, here are the best practices for promoting a mobile fundraiser on social media:

  • Facebook

Images work well for Facebook, as visual aids add more meaning and interest to a post. Try to incorporate at least one image per post.

You can also add donation buttons directly into your Facebook posts, as this example nonprofit did:


FB example

As you can see, they’ve made their mission abundantly clear, and they’ve provided different giving levels to make it easy for donors to choose an amount. Their post is visually appealing, and it’s branded so that any follower would be able to recognize it right away.

  • Twitter

Short but informative is the motto for Twitter (it’s not actually their motto). That’s just to say that your organization needs to fit a lot into only 140 characters.

This example nonprofit does a great job of getting straight to the point:

Twitter example


They don’t waste any time with fluff; they let you know right away what needs to be done and how you can be a part of the solution.

  • Instagram

Instagram is a great forum for beautiful images.  Unfortunately, with Instagram, you can’t post links in your individual posts.  The key is to incorporate the link to your mobile donation page in your profile and then mention it in your posts.

This disaster relief organization does a great job of mentioning the link in their bio:

Instagram example

They got their message across in just a few words, with the picture as the focal point, and they were able to provide next steps for their followers.  If you’re interested in learning more about how to use social media to advertise, check out Crowdster’s article on social media advertising.


#7. Not Thanking Donors

The final mistake that a lot of nonprofits make when they’re launching mobile fundraising campaigns is not thanking their donors.  One of the most important things you can do when you’re asking for donations of any kind is to send out acknowledgements.  The reason that many nonprofits don’t think to send out personalized thank you’s is they think that the automatic replies that are sent out right after a donor gives are gratitude enough.

The truth is: you can never say thank you enough.

How to Avoid This Mistake:

You can easily avoid this faux pas by thanking your donors!

Thank them:

  • Before they donate.
  • Right after they donate.
  • As a reminder that they’ve given.
  • To encourage them to give again.
  • For volunteering.
  • For signing up for your newsletter.
  • More than once.
  • In more than one way.
  • With an email.
  • Through text.
  • On social media.

You can even write them letters to show your appreciation.  The point is: there are a million and one ways to thank your donors. Make your donors feel like they’re one-of-a-kind today.


Hopefully, with these tips and tricks in mind, your nonprofit will be able to sidestep any major mistakes.  You’ve learned that you can expand your network with the help of social media, peer-to-peer fundraising, and live events.  You’ve also picked up that thanking your donors and getting to know them on a deeper level ensures that your donor retention rate remains high.  In the end, what you really learned is that all of these common mistakes are easily avoidable. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and go mobile!



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