What EvEry nonprofit should knoW about mobilE: lessons from Global development nonprofits

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What EvEry nonprofit should knoW about mobilE:
lessons from Global development nonprofits
October 2012
PAGE
2
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

Authors
Andrew Gleason
Chris Bernard
Laura Quinn
Acknowledgements
Many thanks to the experts who contributed their time to this report:
Michael Lott, M+R Strategic Services
Hadassah Max and Andrew Blossom, American Jewish World Service
Rich Cason, Heifer International
Kalyn Paul and Penny Crump, Save the Children
Graham Moore and John McAlister, Salvation Army (Canada and Bermuda Territorial Headquarters)
Nam-ho Park, Forum One
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................4
Why Consider Mobile Phones? .......................................................................................................................5
Mobilizing Your Current Website ....................................................................................................................6
Engaging Through Text Messages .................................................................................................................8
Mobile Fundraising .............................................................................................................................................9
Reaching Out Through QR Codes ................................................................................................................10
Providing Niche Functionality Through Mobile Applications .................................................................11
How To Define Your Own Approach to Mobile ..........................................................................................13
Case Studies ......................................................................................................................................................15
Save the Children USA ........................................................................................................................15
American Jewish World Service (AJWS) ........................................................................................18
Salvation Army (Canada and Bermuda Territorial Headquarters) ............................................21
Heifer International .............................................................................................................................24
ContEnts
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

The rise of mobile phones in recent years has
substantially affected the work of global development
organizations, and a few high-profile examples have
made the news—such as the large-scale mobile-giving
campaigns to provide relief following the 2010 Haiti
earthquake and Japan’s 2011 tsunami. But beyond
natural disasters, can organizations—including smaller
nonprofits—make use of the technology by applying
the model on a more suitable scale?
We talked to four large global development organiza-
tions and two consultants to find out how they’re
using mobile technology to reach out to constituents,
and whether smaller organizations can emulate their
methods. This report highlights their approaches to
a number of different technologies, including mobile
websites, texting, mobile giving, QR codes and mobile
apps, including what they’re using, what’s working,
and what’s not.
In these first 13 pages, we provide an overview of
what we learned, and then dive into case studies of
each organization—Save the Children, American
Jewish World Services, Heifer International and the
Salvation Army—to see what smaller organizations
in all sectors can learn from their experience.
introduCtion
Can organizations—
including smaller
nonprofits—make use
of mobile technology by
applying the model on a
more suitable scale?
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

If your nonprofit has not yet considered a mobile
strategy, you may be missing out on a growing oppor-
tunity to reach and engage a large audience. Roughly
46 percent of all U.S. adults use smartphones. Their
use is expected to double in the next four years,
according to the Pew Research Center. About 88
percent of adults own some type of mobile phone,
and 55 percent of them use those mobile phones to
go online. According to Pew, that’s mostly because of
convenience, availability and habit, but in some cases
mobile phones are the primary means of internet
access.
For many of the global development organizations
we spoke to, which often rely on contributions from
supporters, keeping abreast of technologies and re-
lated trends is imperative for improving engagement.
Pew found that one in five U.S. adults has made a
charitable contribution online, and 9 percent of adults
have made one using mobile phone text messaging,
demonstrating that mobile is increasingly important
for fundraising as well. While mobile devices also
include tablets and similar devices, in this report we
use the term to refer specifically to mobile phones.
The Haiti disaster sparked a mobile fundraising
movement, with individual donors giving $43 million
through text messaging alone. But what can we expect
from this type of giving in the future? The answer is
unclear. According to the Philanthropy Journal, over
50 percent of nonprofits were disappointed with their
mobile fundraising results. In a recent report, Kapti-
vate and the Association of Fundraising Professionals
surveyed 233 organizations and found their use of
text-to-give technology decreased from 65 percent in
2010, the year of the Haiti earthquake, to 41 percent
in 2011. But during that same time, the use of mobile
web technology in general increased by 27 percent,
which means that while mobile may not immediately
transform fundraising, it will certainly change the way
many people view websites.
“You can only have the answers for what the reality
was yesterday, not what they’ll be tomorrow,” said
Graham Moore, Public Relations and Development
Secretary for the Salvation Army’s Canada and
Bermuda Territorial Headquarters. His organization
was one of the leaders in the enormously successful
text-to-give campaign for Haiti, but its success with
more recent mobile projects has been less obvious.
So how should nonprofits be thinking about using
mobile? There’s no cookie cutter strategy. Each
organization’s approach will depend on its needs,
goals and resources.
Why ConsidEr mobilE phonEs?
For many of the
global development
organizations we spoke
to, which often rely
on contributions from
supporters, keeping
abreast of technologies
and related trends
is imperative for
improving engagement.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

If you were to do only one thing in the mobile area,
it almost certainly makes sense to start by thinking
about how your website appears on a mobile phone.
Nearly everyone we talked to agreed this was the
critical first step when thinking about supporting
people using mobile devices. After all, much of the
point of sending someone a text message or posting
a QR code is lost if your constituent responds to take
action only to end up on a site that can’t effectively be
used on their phone’s small screen.
A solid website mobile strategy allows users to access
your site at their convenience on any phone linked
to the internet. While it’s possible that this strategy
would encompass both phones and other devices,
like tablets or iPads, it’s important to think specifically
about the user’s experience on a small phone screen—
which is likely to be substantially more limiting than
the view on a tablet.
Think about the user experience for someone on a
mobile device. What do your website visitors do most
often? Does this differ for the mobile version? Can
supporters easily find those things and take action
from a phone? As Michael Lott, a consultant for
M+R Strategic Services, said, it’s critical that “the site
looks good and is—more importantly—completely
usable on a phone.” There are a number of different
approaches to optimize a website for a mobile phone.
Most straightforwardly, you could simply tweak your
site, or key pages of your site, to better accommodate
small screen sizes. For instance, consider what the
user sees if only the top left-hand corner of your site
is visible. Alternatively, what will they be able to see if
the phone shows the full width of the website shrunk
down to fit a small, narrow phone screen? Narrow
sites will better accommodate a mobile experience
than one that requires users to scroll horizontally
through a four-column layout. And larger buttons and
prominent links make it easier to navigate a site with a
finger rather than a mouse. Tweaking an existing site
mobilizinG your CurrEnt WEbsitE
A solid website mobile
strategy allows users to
access your site at their
convenience on any
phone linked to
the internet.
You could also consider
creating a small website
designed specifically for
mobile devices.
Heifer International’s website works well on a
mobile phone.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

easy on any smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
For instance, someone viewing your website on a
desktop computer might see three columns of infor-
mation side-by-side, but someone on a phone would
see that information stacked in a single column layout
that fits horizontally on the smaller-sized screen. It’s
unlikely that you’ll simply be able to easily convert
your existing design to responsive design—converting
your site to use a responsive design will generally
require a substantial project to design and build (or
redesign and rebuild) the look of the site with respon-
sive design as an important priority.
Prior to implementing any of these projects, it’s
important to have a plan in place that takes into
account who your target audience is, how likely they
are to use a “mobilized” website, and what content
they really want—the people who view your site on a
phone might have very different priorities than those
who view it in a desktop. In particular, you may want
to decrease the amount of text on the site to reduce
the amount of reading required, as reading text-heavy
sites is difficult on a mobile phone. For example, The
American Jewish World Service experimented with
an online annual report implemented with responsive
design and found that creating content for it required
a different mindset than for its traditional printed
publication.
“Less is more,” said Associate Director of Communi-
cations Hadassah Max.
isn’t likely to provide the best possible mobile experi-
ence, but it may well be the cheapest way to provide
some support. Certainly it’s better to understand
what the mobile experience is like on a phone and
tweak where possible than it is to ignore the world of
mobile phones entirely.
You could also consider creating a small website
designed specifically for mobile devices. This is likely
to be a slimmed down version of your site with
substantially fewer pages and less text, geared toward
the needs of mobile users. This kind of mobile site is
like any other website and is built in HTML, the stan-
dard website scripting language—the only difference
is that it’s designed for a different size screen, one
much narrower than a standard browser. To be most
effective, however, most mobile sites include built-in
functionality that tries to determine the actual dimen-
sions of the screen being used to accommodate the
differences in sizes between various mobile devices. If
you’re using a modern Content Management System,
it’s possible that your CMS will allow you to create
a mobile template that sits on top of your standard
website to help you determine the screen size of the
device being used, and then display the same content
appropriately.
The most cutting edge possibility to create a good
website experience on a mobile phone is called “re-
sponsive design.” A responsive design template allows
the website to adapt itself depending on the viewing
environment, which makes reading and navigation
You could also consider
creating a small website
designed specifically for
mobile devices.
The people who view
your site on a phone
might have very
different priorities
than those who view
it in a desktop.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

If you feel like you have a good approach to mobile
website users, text messaging might be an interesting
next step. Sending SMS text messages to the phones
of constituents who have opted in can be a useful
way to reach out rather than expecting them to come
to you, and can potentially encourage them to take
an action or visit your website. Once you’ve collected
constituents’ mobile phone numbers you can continue
engaging them by sending periodic texts—monthly,
for example—that provide information about the
organization or links to your website and mission-
related tips, or that ask people to sign-up for online
pledges or petitions.
Straightforward outgoing text messaging is not
particularly complicated to support. Through services
like Mozes or Causecast, even small organizations can
set up the functionality to send a text message to a list
of mobile phones for $10-$50 per month.
While most organizations collect the vast majority of
their list of mobile phone numbers through typical
registration forms on their websites, there are interest-
ing options for mobile phone “pledges” to collect a
list of mobile phone subscribers. For instance, Save
the Children has done a mobile pledge to declare
Freedom From Poverty for America’s Children. The
constituent texts POVERTY to a specific short code
to take the pledge, and receives a message back that
says something to the effect of “please reply with
your first name, last name & email to take the pledge.”
Save the Children then integrates the list with its
constituent database.
Text messaging is likely to be a better bang-for-
the-buck for most organizations than text-to-give
campaigns. Even the marketing powerhouse Heifer
International uses texting predominantly for engage-
ment rather than fundraising, according to Rich
Cason, Director of Internet and Marketing. Mobile
fundraising “just doesn’t fit with our model,” he said.
“I’m not saying we would never use it as a fundraising
channel, but I just can’t see it as a primary channel.”
EnGaGinG throuGh tExt mEssaGEs
Straightforward out-
going text messaging
is not particularly com-
plicated to support.
Text messaging is
likely to be a better
bang-for-the-buck for
most organizations
than text-to-give
campaigns.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

With text-to-give campaigns, donors text a keyword
to a short code to make a fixed $5 or $10 donation.
These contributions are generally impulse donations
enabled by the convenience and ease of texting—
aggressive marketing and outreach is needed to help
the small donations accrue to a substantial degree.
For instance, three-quarters of those who donated
via text to Haiti relief efforts reported that their
donation was a spur-of-the-minute decision in a
Pew Internet survey.
Even for the major national organizations we spoke
to, text-to-give was a fairly hit-or-miss endeavor. The
only major success that any of them had in this area
was in fundraising for disasters that received substan-
tial media attention—both Save the Children and the
Salvation Army raised quite significant sums to help
in the Haiti earthquake, and Save the Children sees a
steady stream of income based on campaigns related
to humanitarian needs that are in the news.
It’s important for smaller nonprofits to think through
whether they’re likely to have the circumstances to
inspire this kind of impulsive text-to-give gift. A
substantial outreach campaign with a powerful story
could generate significant text-to-give gifts, especially
if you get notable press attention, but capturing the
public’s attention for a particular campaign is likely
to be substantially more difficult without pre-existing
relationships with the press. Text-to-give can also
be compelling in a live event setting—at a rally or
concert, for instance—when the people around you
can help inspire an impulsive donation.
If you’re considering text-to-give, think through
whether it makes sense to prepare fundraising around
key events in the news by setting up keywords in
advance. For instance, Save the Children has a large
set of keywords that include names of disasters
(“typhoon”) and countries to allow them to deploy
a text-to-give campaign within a day or two of the
event hitting the news. This is the type of mental
model you’ll likely need to have success in text-to-give
in anything other than a live event; you need to be
prepared to launch a campaign immediately when the
public is talking about it.
Unless you’re a large national nonprofit, text-to-give
is unlikely to be something you’ll want to try out just
to see how it goes. Think about whether you have the
type of cause or events likely to inspire people to give
impulsively, or if you could take advantage of stories
in the news that might move people to give. How does
mobile giving fit with your fundraising plan? For many
organizations, it may make sense to decide to not try
out text-to-give and instead bide their time watching
other organizations to see what seems to be working,
and what does not.
mobilE fundraisinG
Text-to-give can be
compelling in a live
event setting—at a
rally or concert, for
instance—when the
people around you
can help inspire an
impulsive donation.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

Quick Response codes, or QR codes, allow smart-
phone users to scan bar codes with their camera to be
linked to a specific website URL. Printed in ads, on
direct mail or business cards, or on signs in physical
locations, they’re a creative way to engage constituents
for specific campaigns, causes or events or drive
traffic to your website. But are they worth the time
and effort?
QR codes are easy to implement and require minimal
investment. They can be created for free in just
minutes through a number of websites. The challenge
is that just a small fraction of the U.S. population
understands them, and an even smaller percentage
uses them—for example, M+R Strategic Services
found that QR codes have not fully penetrated the
U.S. market.
Most of the large organizations we talked to were
experimenting with QR codes for different purposes.
Salvation Army’s Canada and Bermuda Territorial
Headquarters has begun incorporating them on their
iconic red Christmas fundraiser kettles to link sup-
porters to a donation website, and Save the Children
puts QR codes on quarterly reports for their advocacy
efforts. However, none of the organizations we spoke
to had yet seen any compelling results from using
QR codes. While Save the Children’s Internet Market-
ing Specialist Kalyn Paul pointed out that QRs can
help brand you as a technology savvy organization,
it’s not clear that they’re likely to help you gain sub-
stantial numbers of constituents or donations, at
least right now.
rEaChinG out throuGh Qr CodEs
QR codes are easy to
implement and require
minimal investment.
They can be created
for free in just minutes
through a number of
websites.
None of the
organizations we spoke
to had yet seen any
compelling results from
using QR codes.
QR codes can be used in print materials or in physical locations, as in
this example, to provide users with additional information about a place,
item or organization.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

providinG niChE funCtionality
throuGh mobilE appliCations
What about building mobile applications, or “apps?”
The organizations we spoke with generally felt that
other engagement methods should be considered
first. Mobile apps can be expensive to implement,
and unless there is a structured goal in mind, it can be
hard to stand out in the crowded app marketplace to
inspire people to download them.
In fact, for most nonprofit goals a mobile-optimized
website—sometimes confusingly called a “mobile
web application”—is likely to make more sense.
Your constituents don’t need to decide in advance to
download a true “native” mobile app to their phone.
Instead, they just point their browser to a website or
web-based application, with considerably fewer steps
to get started using the information. So if you have
an audience compelled to use specific information or
resources from your organization in an ongoing way,
a mobile application has the advantage over a mobile
website.
On the other hand, if have an audience interested in
ongoing, in-depth interactions with your organization,
a mobile application has the advantage of being avail-
able even when your constituents aren’t connected to
the internet. For example, if your organization created
a mobile app that provided a daily summary of health
care news, your constituents could read the summary
on the train or subway even without an internet
connection. That could be a very useful app for those
who want in-depth health care information, and a
chance for your organization to provide real value.
As another example, Salvation Army is creating an
“iKettle” mobile app built upon its iKettle online
service that lets users register, set-up peer-to-peer
fundraising and create web pages with video, pictures
Before creating a
mobile app, make sure
it will provide real value
to actual constituents.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood
Watch is available as printed cards
or a convenient mobile app that
allows users to determine the most
sustainable choices for seafood.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

and stories to raise money from friends and family.
The mobile app should allow the strongest supporters
to track and manage their fundraising campaigns
more easily, even while on the road. The organization
has a clear goal for the app, and its target users are
the people who have already shown their eagerness to
create a deep relationship. In this case, the ability to
check in and manage their campaign pages even when
they’re not online has real value.
Before creating a mobile app, make sure it will
provide real value to actual constituents. What would
prompt someone to download it? What are the points
of engagement that would bring them back to it
more than once? Based on the cost, creating an app
shouldn’t be the first place you turn to enter the mo-
bile market, but a more advanced option to consider
if other possibilities won’t well meet your goals.
But for more mass market approaches, nonprofits
“don’t necessarily have the wherewithal to compete”
in the mobile application marketplace, Rich Cason
said. His organization, Heifer International, created
an iPhone app to provide information and a donate
button at a cost of about $4,000 and 30 hours of
staff time. “You really have to provide utility and
value or you’re lost in the crowd,” he said. The app
didn’t pay off in the way that they had hoped. They’re
now creating a mobile website which will provide
similar functionality in a way that doesn’t require
users to choose to download a specific application
in advance.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

The world of mobile can feel daunting, but it
doesn’t have to. As in any area, think about it one
step at a time rather than feeling that you need to do
everything at once. Define your objectives up front
to better allocate the appropriate time and resources
you’ll need for a successful implementation. Where
can mobile technologies best suit your goals and the
needs of your organization? Where does it not make
sense? Think through these six questions to define
your own approach
1. Are your constituents using mobile devices?
They likely are. Get an idea by talking to constitu-
ents and checking your website statistics. If you
don’t support mobile, what percentage of your
website visitor might be affected—and just how
bad might that experience be? Is that percentage
likely to include a lot of potential partners or
donors? Do your research. Only you can decide
if taking on mobile is an important priority com-
pared to everything else you’re working on as an
organization.
2. Should you make core communications more
mobile friendly? If you decide that supporting
mobile phones is an important priority for your
organization, you should start with your website.
There’s no better way to enter the mobile realm
than mobilizing your current website. While you’re
at it, think about making your email newsletters
mobile-friendly, too. Think through the pros and
cons of various approaches to mobile websites.
Should you optimize your current site? Create a
mobile sub-site? Create a new graphic design using
responsive design?
3. Will outreach through mobile texting provide a
solid bang for the buck? Mobile texting is a more
advanced communication technique, and you want
to make sure your website and email strategy are
strong before you invest here. It’s another touch-
point that can be used to reach out and engage
core constituents and inform them about possible
actions, events and information associated with
your nonprofit. Specific mobile “pledges” could
also be a useful list-building technique, especially if
you have the opportunity to market the campaign
heavily to a broad audience or at a live event.
hoW to dEfinE your oWn approaCh
to mobilE
The world of mobile
can feel daunting, but
it doesn’t have to. As in
any area, think about
it one step at a time
rather than feeling
that you need to do
everything at once.
There’s no better way to
enter the mobile realm
than mobilizing your
current website.
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What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

when you have a core audience proactively seek-
ing more information or functionality from your
organization. An app needs to provide obvious
value in your constituents’ minds and give them
a compelling reason to download and use the ap-
plication frequently—otherwise your app is likely
to be lost in a crowded market.
An increasing number of people are using mobile
phones for more and more areas of their life, and
the use of phones to interact with information is
likely to just increase over time. All nonprofits should
at least think through their approach to supporting
mobile devices and have a plan as to what makes
sense for them.
On the other hand, it’s important not to get bogged
down in trying out every new approach and technique
as it comes out. The technology evolves so quickly, it
can be a struggle to keep pace—especially for smaller
organizations. Remember, larger organizations often
have the resources to experiment, so consider follow-
ing in their footsteps by observing what is working
for them and seeing what challenges they face and
how they overcome them.
Then, apply those techniques on a scale better suited
to your own resources and needs, and adapt your
approach as needed as you learn more along the way.
Think through what mobile practices will best fit
your organizations’s needs, size, and personality—and
won’t require an earthquake or natural disaster to be
successful.
4. Does your cause and your model lend itself
to text-to-give campaigns? Do you have live
events that might inspire people to spontaneously
give, or issues that are likely to hit the news? Err
on the side of caution—it’s unlikely you’re going
to be able replicate the huge success of campaigns
like those for Haiti earthquake relief. Outline clear
goals before initiating these types of campaigns
and be sure to have the campaign ready before
potential events or disasters to be able to fundraise
as soon as people are moved to donate.
5. Is it worth playing with QR codes? QR codes
are relatively inexpensive, but it’s unclear whether
they’re likely to have much, if any, impact in the
U.S. Many people in the U.S. don’t fully understand
the nature of QR codes at the moment, but if
you think you have a particularly savvy audience it
might be worth a test. If your organization has the
time and desire to try it out, using QR codes could
also help you brand yourself as tech savvy. There’s
not much downside, and there’s no investment
other than a little bit of time and the space on the
page.
6. Do you have a clear reason to build a web
app? Building a native mobile application is likely
to be one of the last tactics you should consider,
and only if you have clear needs that can’t be
effectively met using any other of the technologies
discussed here. Mobile apps really only make sense
An increasing number
of people are using
mobile phones for more
and more areas of their
life, and the use of
phones to interact with
information is likely to
increase over time.
All nonprofits should
at least think through
their approach to
supporting mobile
devices and have a plan
as to what makes sense
for them.
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15
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

As one of the world’s leading independent organiza-
tions for children, Save the Children strives to create
lasting change for kids around the globe by working
in 120 countries to carry out the vision that every
child has the “right to survival, protection, develop-
ment and participation.” Save the Children responds
to emergencies, disasters and conflicts, and work to
combat the poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease that
affect children worldwide.
Outreach and fundraising is a vital part of its work.
“Our business is to save the children,” said Internet
Marketing Specialist Kalyn Paul. “How do we do
that? We raise money—we want to make sure we
have our coffee can with the Save the Children logo
on it everywhere.”
For Kalyn and Web Content Writer and Editor Penny
Crump, “everywhere” means the online world, too—
including people using mobile phones. To reach them,
Save the Children created a standalone mobile website
targeted toward donors.
CasE studiEs
In thinking about the
target audience for
mobile, staff realized
that potential donors
often spend a lot of
time playing with their
phones while waiting in
line for appointments
or at stores.
save the Children usa
Westport, Connecticut and Washington d.C.
700 staff
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16
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

Save The Children recently conducted a mobile pledge in which a
constituent texts “POV ERTY” to a specific short code to affirm that
they agree with the text of the pledge, and receives back a text message
back that requests they text their first name, last name and email.
website, and the time they spending on each page.
“We’ve seen some Return on Investment,” Penny
said, “and I think [a mobile site is] a must-have in
digital communication.”
The organization also looks specifically to mobile
options to engage constituents—this might mean
anything from texting updates or quizzes to asking
people to sign a pledge or to sign up for an eNewslet-
ter. Engaging constituents in a variety of ways allows
it to cultivate long-lasting contacts, and exposes the
public to the organization’s global efforts.
“You want to start building a relationship with
subscribers before you start asking them for money,”
Kalyn said. Typically Save the Children reaches out to
constituents on their phones once per month—not
enough to overwhelm them, but enough to keep them
engaged and ready to mobilize in an emergency.
Staff also thinks carefully about using mobile phones
to acquire constituents’ contact information and start
relationships. For instance, they recently conducted
a mobile “Freedom From Poverty for America’s
Children” pledge in which a constituent texts “POV-
ERTY” to a specific short code to affirm that they
agree with the text of the pledge, and receives back
a text message back that requests they text their first
In thinking about the target audience for mobile, staff
realized that potential donors often spend a lot of
time playing with their phones while waiting in line
for appointments or at stores.
“When people are on their phone, they’re not in a
work or research mindset,” Penny said, and have only
limited time and attention. To capture that limited
attention, Save the Children carefully thought through
what information people would want on their phone,
and when, and began to format content to fit—for
example, web stories shorter than 200 words, short
videos and user-friendly online donation forms. The
mobilized website took 10 staff members roughly one
month to create in-house, with some help from an
outside vendor.
To measure the effectiveness of its design, Save
the Children meticulously tracks bounce rates and
abandonment rates, the path people take through the
Typically Save the
Children reaches out
to constituents on
their phones once per
month—not enough to
overwhelm them, but
enough to keep them
engaged and ready
to mobilize in an
emergency.
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17
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

in the news. As text donations are often impulse gifts
given in reaction to something seen on the news, it’s
also helpful to have keywords that are short and easy
to spell.
For Kalyn and Penny, text-to-give is a necessary
component of Save the Children’s mobile strategy.
They want to make sure that when supporters pull
out their phones to donate, Save the Children is
there. However, they mention that with these types
of mobile giving campaigns it’s important to invest
in such traditional advertising as public service an-
nouncements, billboards and television ads. Promot-
ing text-to-give campaigns on your organization’s
website cannot be your only advertising platform if
you are expecting a decent return.
As much as Save the Children is doing with mobile, it
still would like to do more.
“I really just want to have more people sign up, and
have our subscriber database be people who are ready
and willing to act,” Penny said, reflecting the belief
that mobile is not in and of itself a goal but a means
of supporting the organization’s mission of protect-
ing children around the world.
name, last name and email. Save the Children adds
them to the pledge and pulls their names into the
CRM to communicate with about related topics.
The organization is the only one we spoke with that
has had substantial ongoing success with mobile
fundraising. One reason may be the proactive
preparation to fundraise quickly to help in the event
of a crisis—the mobile giving campaign is always
active, and equipped with a variety of keywords used
for disasters, many of which are set up in advance.
For example, constituents can text “flood” or “earth-
quake” or “hunger” to a specific short code in order
to donate.
“Especially with disasters, it’s very helpful to have a
few short codes pre-positioned,” Kalyn said. Once
you apply for a keyword it can take up to two weeks
to receive it, so it’s difficult to try to set one up
reactively fast enough for donations in the immediate
aftermath of a disaster, when it’s still top of mind and
The text messaging conversation acts as a signature to the pledge, and collects
constituent information for the organization.
The organization is the
only one we spoke with
that has had substantial
ongoing success with
mobile fundraising.
PAGE
18
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

The American Jewish World Service, an international
development organization committed to justice and
working to realize human rights and eliminate poverty
in the developing world, has for years published a
printed annual report which showcases its work. With
staff members based in New York, Washington D.C.,
San Francisco and Los Angeles, the organization
funds largely grassroots organizations throughout
Africa, Asia and Latin and Central America.
AJWS’s annual report is an important part of its
marketing efforts, but the printed booklet has
received increasing criticism over the past few years
due to constituents’ increased use of online commu-
nications. “People were offended that their donations
were going to create something that most people were
going to recycle and not even look at,” said Hadassah
Max, Associate Director of Communications. Moving
the annual report online made sense for both the
organization and its supporters. It also provided an
opportunity to experiment with a website built with
responsive design to support mobile devices.
Web Producer Andrew Blossom helped lead the
project. He said there’s an increased expectation from
the general public for mobile-friendly websites and
applications, and moving from a traditional print-
based annual report to an online version was a major
success in and of itself—the organization saved tens
of thousands of dollars in printing costs, and made
a statement about its commitment to good environ-
mental practice and decreased waste.
Last year AJWS implemented the online annual report
in addition to its print report. Nearly 18 percent of
the people who accessed the online version did so
from a tablet or smartphone, so this year, in addition
to doing away with the print version, the organization
used responsive design to create the online version
so users would have a positive experience from any
There’s an increased
expectation from
the general public
for mobile-friendly
websites and apps.
american Jewish World
service (aJWs)
new york, ny
120-plus staff members
PAGE
19
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

to craft, with a large portion of that time spent con-
ceptualizing the responsive layout and content format.
Convening stakeholders and discussing content and
presentation took more of his time than the actual
implementation. He estimated that the responsive
device. This comparatively small website also gave
AJWS a chance to experiment with mobile, which is
an increasingly important priority for the organiza-
tion.
The responsive design allows the online annual report
site to recognize what mobile devices visitors are
using and arrange the page layout to accommodate
their screens. For instance, someone viewing the
homepage of the report on a desktop computer sees
three columns of large pictures and information side
by side, but someone on a small phone instead sees
two columns of much smaller pictures. The report
includes a wealth of information about the organiza-
tion’s impact around the globe, with photo galleries,
evaluation of progress, financial information and
opportunities for supporters to donate. The annual
report also included AJWS’s first full-blown mobile
accessible donation page.
Andrew mentioned that creating a mobile-friendly
annual report was a great opportunity to break the
standard website mold and design something from
scratch. He said the project took roughly one month
There’s an increased expectation
from the general public for
mobile-friendly websites and
applications, and moving from a
traditional print-based annual
report to an online version was
a major success in and of
itself—the organization saved
tens of thousands of dollars
in printing costs, and made a
statement about its commitment
to good environ mental practice
and decreased waste.
The responsive design
allows the online annual
report site to recognize
what mobile devices
visitors are using and
arrange the page layout
to accommodate their
screens.
PAGE
20
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

readers to read large volumes of text—spending large
amounts of time perfecting pages of content rather
than presentation and usability may be a misuse of
time, she said.
“Less is more,” Hadassah said.
Hadassah said the success of the annual report has
inspired AJWS to seek new ways to do more with
mobile technology. “I have a post-it note on my
computer that says ‘mobile,’” she said. “It’s in our
minds.”
Along those lines, AJWS includes QR codes on most
publications as a way to engage constituents, and has
in the past used text-to-give campaigns for disaster-
relief.
She said that AJWS as an organization believes
nonprofits should be focusing on a mobile-specific
web presence and strategy, which lends itself to a
broader audience, and would someday like to connect
supporters in the U.S. with grantees in the developing
world—many of whom who have mobile devices.
Until then, she said, AJWS does not have the capacity
to do all its mission-related work and also put substan-
tial resources into mobile strategies, but will continue
to do what it can, when it can.
design element approximately doubled the amount of
time to create the site, but now that it’s created staff
can use the template for other projects and save a
substantial amount of time.
“It’s the initial creation that takes time,” Andrew said.
AJWS continues to learn from the experience. Hadas-
sah noted that the organization did not fully assess
the implications of moving from print to online, and
then into responsive design, and didn’t fully consider
the time it would take to adapt the text and presenta-
tion to fully create the site. The organization also
concluded that online users are less likely than print
The organization also
concluded that online
users are less likely than
print readers to read
large volumes of text.
PAGE
21
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

Though its fundraising efforts are best known to
the public for the red kettles and ringing bells of its
Christmastime fundraising campaigns, the Salvation
Army of Canada has been exploring using mobile
technology to aid in fundraising and outreach in the
hopes of moving donors beyond a simple penny toss.
The Christian organization has been active in Canada
since 1882, and the Toronto-based headquarters for
Canada and Bermuda helps as many as 1.7 million
people each year, making it the largest non-govern-
mental provider offering food, shelter, life training
skills and job assistance to people in need.
Public Relations and Development Secretary Graham
Moore and Senior Editor and Web Producer John
McAlister said the organization is increasingly testing
the waters of mobile technology, and has imple-
mented several campaigns that leverage both public
awareness of the organization and modern fundrais-
ing techniques.
Salvation Army entered the mobile fundraising world
in late 2009, launching Canada’s first text-to-give
campaign before the Haiti earthquake brought the
technology into the public eye. The organization
works with the Mobile Giving Foundation to imple-
ment these campaigns. Each keyword costs them
about $300, plus $.50 per donation.
“It’s great to have mobile friendly (web) forms, but
you still need to enter your address and credit card,”
Graham said. “The beauty of text-to-give is that it’s
so few keystrokes.”
After the Haiti earthquake, Salvation Army’s text-to-
give infrastructure allowed it to quickly secure the
Haiti keyword and raised hundreds of thousands of
dollars in donations—its largest text-to-give campaign
to date. “We haven’t been able to repeat anything like
we did for Haiti,” Graham said, though the organiza-
tion continues to look for ways to use mobile giving
campaigns beyond disaster services.
Which led it to circle back to its iconic red kettle
fundraising. Signs were posted at kettle donation sites
encourage people to text KETTLE to 45678 to make
a donation. While the success was limited, the idea
“The beauty of text-to-
give is that it’s so few
keystrokes.”
salvation army
(Canada and bermuda
territorial headquarters)
toronto, Canada
PAGE
22
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

led to further inspiration—by encouraging donors
to enter “sub-keywords” with their texts, they can
specify the community that will benefit from
their gift.
“We should get more buy-in at the local level to
market it,” Graham said. “The [campaign] is based on
the idea that the kettle program is going back to the
local community.”
Other mobile efforts include the use of QR codes on
kettles and signage that leads supporters to their local
branch website, but supporters must fill out donation
forms that require more keystrokes than text-to give
campaigns. Graham said the QR codes are easy to
create and represent a minimal time investment.
The Salvation Army’s iKettle program
lets registered users set up peer-to-peer
fundraising web pages to raise money for
their shared cause from within their own
networks.
In a new program,
called iKettle, Salvation
Army is trying to reach
a larger audience by
letting users register
and set-up peer-to-peer
fundraising web pages.
PAGE
23
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

coming from mobile devices, that necessarily included
a mobile-friendly version of the site.
Rather than creating a flashy website, the organization
focused on producing meaningful content instead
of prioritizing bells and whistles. The design took
into account the primary reasons people visit—to
donate, to find a Salvation Army or to volunteer their
time—and made relevant content prominent and easy
to find. This approach applied to the entire site, not
just the homepage.
”Whatever page a person comes to first is their
homepage at that moment,” John said. Complex,
flashy websites can hinder mobile outreach if users
can’t access them effectively. “We want to make sure
that anyone who comes to our site can find what
they want as easily as they can, no matter what device
they’re using.”
Graham agreed, and said, “If I’m on a mobile phone
and it takes forever to load, or it’s not easy to navigate
or see, I’m just going to go away.”
As Salvation Army forges ahead in mobile, technolo-
gies continue to change. Graham envisions a day
when a donation to Salvation Army or a Christmas
kettle will be comparable to buying a song on iTunes,
where the donor is pre-registered and has only to click
a single button. In the meantime, they’ll continue to
experiment with new technologies. He advises other
nonprofits that it’s dangerous to try to predict the
future rather than experimenting with what works
now. “You can only have the answers for what the
reality was yesterday, not what they’ll be tomorrow.”
In a new program, called iKettle, Salvation Army
is trying to reach a larger audience by letting users
register and set-up peer-to-peer fundraising web pages
with video, pictures and stories to engage supporters
and solicit friends and family. The program has been
enough of a success that the organization is now
working to make it mobile, letting users check their
kettles from their phones, get mobile updates about
campaigns, and thank donors.
To that end it is currently implementing an iKettle
mobile application that lets supporters track dona-
tions and become fully engaged. It found that
technology consulting companies are eager to dive
into the mobile space—meaning that their services in
creating an application are fairly affordable. Graham
said the Salvation Army is “trying to be in on the
ground floor with a lot of this.”
The organization also sees their website as a
foundational part of their outreach and fundraising
efforts—and with about 10 percent of its visitors
“We want to make
sure that anyone who
comes to our site can
find what they want
as easily as they can,
no matter what device
they’re using.”
PAGE
24
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

it was difficult to compete to inspire supporters to
download the Heifer app.
“You really have to provide utility and value or you’re
lost in the crowd,” he said.
Heifer knew it needed some kind of mobile presence,
as its website numbers showed near-double-digit
numbers of supporters visiting the website from
Heifer knew it needed
some kind of mobile
presence, as its website
numbers showed near-
double-digit numbers
of supporters visiting
the website from
mobile devices.
Two and a half years ago, when all signs pointed to
the continued growth of mobile phones, Heifer Inter-
national—an international development organization
that provides livestock and training to disadvantaged
families throughout the world in an effort to end
poverty and hunger—launched an iPhone application
which Director of Internet Marketing Rich Cason
called “a foray into the space to see what people
would be interested in.”
Its venture into mobile applications came at a price
of $4,000 and about 30 hours of staff time. Much of
the time went into preparing content and wireframes
for the app, providing users information about the
organization and a donate button connected to its
website. The mobile application represented a scaled-
back version of Heifer, using some of the same
content seen in the magazine it publishes.
Unfortunately, Heifer soon realized that a mobile
application wasn’t the right fit for its goals. The
organization wanted to communicate with donors
about the challenges and rewards of long-term global
development, and its donors are interested in hearing
about their progress—but more on a quarterly or
semi-annual basis, which doesn’t lend itself well to
a high-value mobile application. Rich found that in
the crowded marketplace for mobile applications,
heifer international
little rock, arkansas
1,000 staff
PAGE
25
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

Rich finds that mobile giving is more spur-of-the-
moment and impulsive, often driven by big name
celebrities or substantial ad campaigns, and that’s just
not the type of giving that lends itself to Heifer’s
model of eliminating global poverty and hunger
through livestock donations and training.
mobile devices. Staff shifted from a mobile app to
a mobile website that would provide mobile users
with information about their organization. The site
includes 25-30 pages of the most critical information
for supporters and other constituents, including the
gift catalog for the organization’s “Passing on the
Gift” program, a cornerstone of its mission. The
organization feels strongly that the website is a better
way to go than an app.
“I just can’t see going in the app direction when a
mobile website would suit your needs,” said Rich.
Heifer International has outsourced the development
of the mobile site to a consultant that’s very familiar
with the mobile world, and hopes to keep the cost
under $10,000. It’s also thinking about other ways to
reach supporters on their mobile phones. Currently,
Heifer uses mobile texting for outreach, but does not
see mobile fundraising as a key part of their strategy.
“It just doesn’t fit with our model,” Rich said. “It’s
more of an engagement [method]. I’m not saying we
would never use it as a fundraising channel, but I just
can’t see it as a primary channel.”
Heifer International is just beginning to
better understand the real value of strategies
like QR codes, such as using them to route
visitors to the organization’s newly optimized
mobile site.
Heifer is trying to
better understand the
real value of strategies
like QR codes, such as
using them to route
visitors to the newly
optimized mobile site.
PAGE
26
What Every Nonprofit Should Know About Mobile • October 2012

As Heifer continues to experiment with mobile
outreach, Rich is trying to better understand the real
value of strategies like QR codes, such as using them
to route visitors to the newly optimized mobile site.
“There’s enough there that it warrants further explo-
ration,” he said. He believes people will find creative
ways to use QR codes and increase the value they
bring to the public.
As the percentage of people using smartphones
continues to rise, Rich feels there will be a huge
opportunity to connect donors, supporters and
advocates to the organization’s mission. “It’s just the
tip of the iceberg for mobile.”
In such a fast-paced technology world, Rich finds it
important to stay up-to-date on what’s available, but
to proceed cautiously.
“You always need to be aware of what’s on the
horizon so you’re not using staff time or resources
to create something that’s going to be obsolete,” he
said. “As a nonprofit, one of our biggest challenges
is keeping up with what’s happening in the world of
technology. It’s prudent to take a wait-and-see ap-
proach to see what happens.”
“You always need to
be aware of what’s on
the horizon so you’re
not using staff time
or resources to create
something that’s going
to be obsolete.”
For More Information
Engagement Focus of Mobile Technology, Philanthopy Journal. http://www.philanthropyjournal.
org/news/top-stories/engagement-focus-mobile-technology
A Look at Internet Use on Mobile Phones, Pew Research Center. http://pewresearch.org/
pubs/2296/mobile-cell-internet-web-access-phone
Engaging Constituents Using Mobile Technology, Idealware. http://www.idealware.org/articles/
engaging-constituents-using-mobile-technology
Is Mobile Giving for You, Idealware. http://idealware.org/articles/mobile-giving-you
Providing Services With Mobile Technology, Idealware. http://www.idealware.org/articles/
providing-services-mobile-devices
Recording: Getting Started With Mobile Outreach, Idealware. http://www.idealware.org/online-
seminars/recording-getting-started-mobile-outreach