Kristen Gramigna is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub and the Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, offering non-profit credit card processing solutions. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.
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Similar to private companies, nonprofit organizations receive a constant stream of recommendations on how to use the latest mobile technology to renew and re-engineer your brand.

Trends in the mobile sector place demands on resource-conscious nonprofits to take advantage of the proliferation of mobile—with more than 1 billion people around the globe with tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.

Nonprofits need to find a way to balance the use of mobile technology with mission-driven experiences. A total redefinition of the organization’s methods is not necessary, but management does need to be flexible and creative in the use of mobile technology to keep up with today’s business environment.

Many nonprofits have started to incorporate new mobile technologies by redesigning their websites to ensure that users with mobile devices have the best experience possible when accessing the sites. Following are four ways mobile is changing the nonprofit world.

1) Mobile Cloud Computing

Tech-savvy nonprofit organizations seeking to minimize the time and resources they spend on information technology (IT) infrastructure maintenance are allocating a larger portion of their IT budget to “cloud” technology.

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of hardware and software services over the Internet. It eliminates the need to host your own servers and provides other advantages for nonprofits, including document collaboration and storage, remote access to constituent database software updates, organization-wide email, and other capabilities.

When you add cloud computing to the worldwide growth in the use of smartphones and tablets, you have the “synergy” of mobile cloud computing with the flexibility and scalability required to meet the ebb and flow of your operational and fundraising demands. Not-for-profit organizations gain from both management and technical perspectives.

2) Text Messaging

Many organizations have replaced slow, ineffective direct mail and email with group text messages to communicate with members. Texting facilitates communicating quickly and eliminates the possibility of an email message getting lost, remaining unread, or being filtered by SPAM.

The right software allows nonprofits to build their community by using this more cohesive and comprehensive approach to notify your members about news, events, actions and other information. Text messaging also accommodates two–way communication, giving members the option to respond immediately.

Another approach is to use text messaging in combination with specially designed e-mail messages that members can read and respond to easily. Nonprofits using this method have discovered that supporters who sign up for text messages outperform other donors in similar databases by a wide margin.

Another advantage of text messaging is the flexibility it offers supporters. For example, donors who are comfortable conducting transactions over mobile devices can receive a text with an embedded donation link. Donors who prefer another method for making their donation would receive a phone number in the text.

The affordable price structure of text messaging makes it a cost-efficient option for a nonprofit operating on a tight budget.

3) Mobile Processing

Nonprofits can take advantage of the ability to process transactions over 3G or wireless connections. Some studies report that as many as 10% of the people who visit the donation page of a nonprofit organization use their tablet or smartphone to complete a transaction

To take advantage of this technology, an organization’s website must have a mobile-friendly donation page specifically optimized for mobile viewing. Donors then make a pledge or complete a secure credit card transaction on their smartphones or tablet.

4) App Development

With the move toward open data, many nonprofit organizations are creating mobile applications (apps) to utilize the availability of this information. Apps are developed based on the needs of the nonprofit’s members and should provide the end-user with information and help in some way, perhaps to make a donation or respond to an invitation.