Mobile Fundraising: A Complete Overview — Pt. 1 of 3

Imagine you’re standing at a bus stop. Maybe you’re checking your mobile email. Maybe you’re texting a good buddy of yours.

Either way, you definitely have your phone out. You look up, and you see this:


Okay, first of all, you notice an adorable kitten, staring down at you, begging you to help out. You also notice that there’s a number to text in order to donate.

How can you refuse?

So you text the number and boom! You’ve just given to a charity you’d never heard of before.

Mobile giving really is that simple.

That’s precisely why we’ve created this overview: to give you a deeper understanding of the fundraising phenomenon that is mobile giving.

In this series, we’ll cover:

  1. What is mobile fundraising?
  2. What are the most common mobile giving terms?
  3. Can mobile giving technology be used for more than just fundraising?
  4. How do various types of organizations make use of mobile giving?
  5. How can your organization get started with mobile giving?
  6. How can you promote mobile fundraising to your donors?


Before you start with this mobile-specific series, if you’re in the market for some more general fundraising advice, look no further than this article: The Secret Sauce of Fundraising Success.

Still with me? We’re going to be dividing those six questions across the three separate parts of this series and answering two questions at a time. The first two up are:

  • What is mobile fundraising?
  • What are the most common mobile giving terms?

What’re we waiting for? Let’s get started with our overview of mobile giving!


What is mobile fundraising?

To put it plainly, mobile fundraising is the raising of money through mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Mobile giving takes several forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Text-to-give technology,
  • QR code promotions,
  • Mobile email fundraising,
  • App-based fundraising,
  • Mobile-friendly crowdfunding pages,
  • And more!


While it takes many forms, there are some best practices that are common to all types of mobile fundraising. They include:

  1. Be consistent with contact, not constant.
  2. Keep all communications relatively short (but still informative).
  3. Don’t require too many steps to donate.


If you keep these best practices in mind when you’re launching your own mobile giving campaign, you’ll be sure to succeed.

Now that you have the basic definition of mobile giving (as well as some universal best practices) under your belt, it’s time to move on to the vocab lesson!

What are the most common mobile fundraising terms?

As with most fundraising phenomena, there are certain key terms that come along with mobile fundraising.

We’ve picked the top 9 mobile giving terms and defined them here for you:


1. Mobile-responsive

Mobile-responsive design refers to the way that web content acts on a mobile device (tablet or smartphone).

Think about it this way: content is like water.

When you pour water into a cup, it conforms to the cup.

When you pour water into a bottle, it fills that bottle.

Likewise, when you pour content into one platform, it should conform to whichever device it’s displayed on.

So when you’re designing your website, make sure that the content you create functions just as well on a mobile phone or tablet as it does on a laptop or desktop computer.


2. Mobile-friendly webpage

A mobile-friendly webpage is a site that is designed specifically to work well on a mobile device.

These webpages are designed directly for mobile; their content does not simply conform to different specifications.

The keys to having a mobile-friendly web page are:

  • Making buttons larger and easier to push.
  • Minimizing large text blocks so that content is easily digestible.
  • Having quick-loading images that display well on a small screen.
  • Ensuring that everything fits in a narrower, more vertical area than a traditional website.

Mobile-friendly webpages help drive traffic to your nonprofit’s site as well as lead to conversions and, ultimately, donations.


3. Text-to-give

Text-to-give is an easy way for donors to give on the go. As the name suggests, it involves donors texting on their mobile phones in order to give to charity.

Your mobile donors can text from anywhere as long as they have your organization’s number saved to their phones.

All they have to do to donate is send a text with the amount they’d like to give.


4. Social media fundraising 

Social media fundraising is a way of raising money through social media sites like:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Tumblr

All of these sites are highly conducive to mobile. In fact, Facebook is one of the most widely downloaded apps on both iPhone and Android.

Your nonprofit can choose to promote your existing mobile or online fundraising campaigns through these sites, or you can fundraise through the sites themselves.

Facebook now has a donation button built in that your organization can take advantage of. 


5. Peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a strategy used by nonprofits to raise more money by leveraging their existing donors.

With peer-to-peer fundraising, a nonprofit will give a select few of its donors the tools or the means to be able to fundraise on behalf of the organization.

These donors will then take the initiative and reach out to their respective social networks to ask for contributions.

They’ll solicit:

  • Close friends
  • Family members
  • Colleagues from work

Peer-to-peer fundraising is also sometimes known as crowdfunding.


6. QR codes

A QR code, also known as a Quick Response code, is a trademarked type of matrix barcode that’s easily scannable using a smartphone.

QR codes often lead users to a mobile-responsive website or a donation page. You can usually find QR code promotions on flyers and in direct mail campaigns, such as the one below:


7. Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is the process of verifying a mobile donor’s identity. It involves asking the donor for a second form of identification when they’re donating via mobile.

This second form of identification is usually an email address.

The process looks a little something like this:

  1. A donor will text in order to donate $10.
  2. The automatic text response will prompt them to click on a mobile-responsive website to fill out their information.
  3. They will be asked to provide an email address.
  4. An email will then be automatically sent to their inbox.
  5. Once the donor has clicked “Confirm” in their email, the transaction will be processed.


Voila! A donation has been made! All with just a few clicks!

The email each donor is sent will look a little something like this:



This process helps eliminate any fraudulent users who might be trying to disrupt or disturb the system. It’s an excellent way of keeping your donors’ identities safe, and it also guards your organization against imposters.


8. PCI-compliance

PCI-compliance occurs when an organization adheres to the rules and regulations set forth by the Payment Card Industry.

It ensures that all organizations and businesses store and process their credit card and debit card information in a safe, secure manner.

There are levels of PCI-compliance, based partially on the volume of credit card numbers that an organization processes.

Any platform provider that you use to launch your mobile giving campaign should comply with the PCI standards (and therefore be “PCI-compliant”).

Most reputable businesses will display their compliance status somewhere on their websites.


9. Tokenization

Tokenization is yet another way of keeping your donors’ information safe and secure.

With tokenization, a credit card number will become a “token.” This token can only be deciphered by the intended recipient, therefore preventing any unauthorized charges.


With a firm grasp on all of the relevant terms, we can start talking about the different uses of mobile giving technology–beyond just raising money.


And we’ll do just that…in part 2! Check in soon for our next article in the series.

donation landing pages

Eric Griego

October 12, 2016

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