While many foundations are well on their way with going mobile, start-ups and smaller organizations may still be trying to figure out how to establish a mobile presence in addition to their website and email operations. There are important matters to consider, the first of which is to determine what is considered a mobile device.
GFC Global describes a mobile device as “a general term for any type of handheld computer. These devices are designed to be extremely portable, and they can often fit in your hand. Some mobile devices—like tablets, e-readers, and smartphones—are powerful enough to do many of the things you do with a desktop or laptop computer.” Mobile devices run on mobile operating systems—the two major operating systems are Android and iOS.
Most nonprofits have a website that interacts with and receive donations from other PCs. Many have a Facebook or Twitter account to announce events and direct visitors to the main website for more information and to donate to their cause.
Not all institutions dedicated to good works have adapted their internet sites to interact with mobile devices or optimized those sites so that they can at least be viewed on mobile devices. Increasing numbers of nonprofits are catching on to the benefits of connectivity with mobile devices but before examining the pros and cons of transitioning, here are some compelling statistics about mobile device use.
First is a demographic shift in smartphone ownership in this survey report from the Pew Research Center (1/13/2022) by Michelle Faverio. “The (2021) survey found that 96% of those ages 18 to 29 own a smartphone compared with 61% of those 65 and older, a 35-percentage point difference. However, that gap has decreased from 53 points in 2012. The survey also showed that 95% of those ages 30 to 49 reported owning a smartphone in 2021 and 83% of those 50 to 64 said the same.” Going mobile is not just for Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Y.
In his article forthe site Exploding Topics, Internet Traffic from Mobile Devices(2/7/23),Josh Howarth affirmed, “Internet use and mobile use are components of everyday life for billions of people. In fact, for many, the two now go hand in hand.” What follows are selections from his breakdown of “the current state of mobile devices in 2023.”
- 60.04% of website traffic comes from mobile devices.
- 92.1% of internet users access the internet using a mobile phone.
- There are approximately 4.32 billion active mobile internet users.
- There will be over 1 billion 5G connections worldwide by 2025.
- Back in Q1 2015, this figure sat at less than one-third (31.16%). In other words, mobile device internet traffic increased by 75% since 2015.
- In fact, the percentage of people accessing the internet via mobile decides has increased quarter-over-quarter. Q1 2017 was the first-time mobile traffic surpassed traffic from desktop computers.
- The US has a mobile internet penetration rate of 84.37%.
- By comparison, approximately 7 in 10 (71.2%) use the more traditional laptop or desktop.
Howarth maintained that “e-commerce is among the most popular (use) for mobile devices. Indeed, more than half of the online population (55.4%) are likely to have bought something online in the past month with their mobile device.” It is into this larger e-commerce category that charitable donations would fall.
Looking forward, he concluded, “There are 4.66 billion active internet users. And 4.32 billion active mobile internet users. Notably, those figures are almost identical. The discrepancy between active social media users (4.2 billion) and active mobile social media users (4.15 billion) is even smaller.”
Howarth paints a dynamic vision of the future for nonprofits deciding to go mobile. Let’s examine both the pros and the cons for foundations that haven’t stepped onto the fast track yet.
Marita Meegan, writing for fundaisingIP.com, wants you to pause and consider Is Your Website Optimized for Mobile Devices? She recommends that you learn how many people visit your site from mobile devices. If you don’t have an analytics program on your site, she recommends Google Analytics, which is free to download and use. With Google Analytics or your own program, you can determine how many people drive by your site and the make and model of their internet jalopy.
She also encourages you to look at how your site appears on the variety of mobile screens types out there. Larger tablets will probably display your site correctly, but smaller tablets and smartphones will not reflect the site’s optimal appearance and will require design modifications to accommodate the different types of screen sizes that your analytics reveal. Observe how well your site functions on those screens, especially the donation pages.
She offers useful tips to pare your site down for optimal appeal and usability on smaller screens. A simple design that functions well with easy navigation will make the mobile version of your site more user-friendly and seem more trustworthy.
Ms. Meegan ventures into the pro and con territory when she asks Should Your Non-Profit Have a Mobile App? On the pro side are variety, flexibility, and apps tailored to your organization’s needs and specialization. There are apps for all kinds of digital appetites, ranging from Red Cross emergency tips to a geo locator for fundraising events, not to mention apps for donation and check out. You determine what you need at the outset and what you can do without for now because big apps can cost significant money. An app, she cautions, will continually incur costs for your nonprofit. Software requires upgrading each time something changes on a device’s operating system. Updating your app can be costly: security updates, data protection, bug fixes, upgrades and more—and for each platform you design it for. Again, a careful study of your analytics will help you determine which platforms and apps can get you the best mileage to see a ROI. She suggests third-party apps might meet your budget needs.
As it should be obvious by now that going mobile is the way everything is going, PRO and CON might best be reframed as PROPOSAL and CONSIDER. Best-selling finance author Robert Kiyosaki teaches that we should never say to ourselves, “I can’t afford it” when presented with an opportunity, but that we should instead ask ourselves “How can I afford it?” So, stepping outside the PRO and CON box and into a space of Proposal and Consider, we can weigh some of the more widely expressed concerns about going mobile.
|Mobile apps are difficult to manage.||Mobile apps streamline daily operations, automate tasks, and integrate them on one platform, saving time and resources.|
|Texting is laborious and a time suck.||Mobile texting can reach large numbers of people in a blink of time. Templates can help.|
|How is text-to-give secure?||Text-to-give forms protect transactions and donor data.|
|Getting someone to create new apps can be expensive.||Third-party companies like AppMySite provide a user-friendly, DIY, no-code,mobile app builder that makes creating premium native mobile apps accessible for nonprofits.These apps you can build in minutes to work with Android and iOS. It costs less than an in-house app designer, but it also gets you started for free.|
|Nonprofits think their donor base is older and won’t use smart phones.||Mobile users span multiple generations. There is no digital divide here, only growing numbers of mobile users of all ages.|
|Managing volunteers with a mobile device sounds like herding cats.||A volunteer mobile app reduces the volunteer management process with self-serve features to enhance communication, recruitment, training, more.|
|How can you raise funds with a simple, plain text message?||Ask candidates and staff from last year’s midterm elections how they raised funds in minutes with a simple text-to-give alert versus direct mail or email.|
|Has text-to-give been around long enough to demonstrate its usefulness?|
Donation via text has been part of disaster response since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But text-to-give really took off after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, when the American Red Cross raised more than $32 million within one year. It was also around for the first Ice Bucket Challenge, and that Challenge went from viral to phenomenal.
A final thought about going mobile. Ask yourself, “How can mobile technology connect with my mission and connect my mission to others?” The answer may sound like a good song about a car.
This blog post was written by Amélie Frank, consulting copywriter to UST. To learn more about Amélie’s professional portfolio you can find her online at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amelie-frank/