That mobile communications devices like smart phones and tablets are the platform-of-choice for most people around the globe is a truism. Ever more business is being conducted over such devices as well, especially over tablets − and by ‘business’ we mean logistics, orders, and purchases, not just business calls.
Nonprofits have appreciated the impact of mobile devices for their work as well. The Red Cross’s famedstands as one of the best-known early examples of such fundraising. But as the platform grows in scope and matures in form, what are some of the options out there that fit best with your nonprofit’s needs?
Text messaging has much to recommend itself. ‘Everyone’s doing it,’ so you can quickly and cheaply spread the work that your organization will accept texted donations without having to take the time to explain the process. The ease and ubiquity of the platform could mean many thousands of microdonations. But it also has its limitations: your nonprofit has to wait until the customer pays his or her phonebill, and the service provider will take a small cut from the donation. And perhaps the most limiting aspect to it is that donor development is almost impossible. People pledge $5 or $10, but your ability to reach back out to them individually does not (yet?) exist.
Apple still refuses to allow the programming of such apps on their iOS/iPhone/iPad platform.of other mobile platforms at the Nonprofit Technology Network and how they might offer both be positive opportunities and negative costs to your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. Native apps, for example, are the growing gold standard of donor acquisition and fundraising, literally. Developing a decent app will cost upwards of $10,000 per platform. And
Mobile web sites and web apps seem the sweet spots for nonprofits: they tend to be inexpensive, they are accessible by any smart phone running any software, and most users of such devices are already quite familiar with them. But, as Luke points out, such apps usually run independently of the rest of the organization’s software/databases, which could mean higher behind-the-scenes costs:
Key business processes, such as, are inaccessible to volunteers and employees unless a mobile web app is embedded in the site. Information captured through a mobile site is siloed in a database separate from the nonprofit’s existing databases. Aggregating information among databases can be time consuming and costly.
Mobility is already the expectation, and your nonprofit ignores it at its peril. But so too should your strategists be making plans to establish a mobile presence. Consider the pros and cons of each platform, the budget you can build for the project, and what you hope to achieve with your mobile development.