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Mobile Giving | The Effective (And Actionable) Guide

Mobile giving, the effective and actionable guide

In 2021, mobile giving is an essential tool for nonprofit organizations. Fundraising in the digital space is increasingly important as mobile giving gains popularity due to the prevalence of cell phone and tablet use. After all, it requires little effort on the donor’s end; support is just a tap away and can be done from anywhere!

According to Double the Donation, overall online revenue increased by 23% over the past year, up from 15% this year—much of that from mobile giving. This means that if you aren’t already, your team should devote time specifically to developing mobile fundraising strategies.

For example, you can grow your network, collect crucial giving information, fund specific projects, and drive greater change. We’ll cover all of the bases of mobile giving and how to make the most of it through the following topics:


We’ll unpack everything you need to know about mobile giving from vocabulary to future projections. It’s a crucial aspect of any nonprofit organization’s fundraising strategy, especially in the digital age. Let’s jump in.

The basics of mobile giving

Mobile Giving: The Basics

To understand how to best leverage mobile giving for your organization, we’ll go over the building blocks of how it works.

What is mobile giving?

Mobile giving refers to donors using their phones and tablets to give to nonprofits, churches, and other organizations they care about. This way of contributing funds is becoming increasingly relevant as smartphones allow donors to give from anywhere, at any time.

How popular is mobile giving?

Mobile giving is steadily rising in popularity and has cemented itself as a fundraising strategy here to stay! According to Pew Research Center, 81% of all adults in the U.S. own smartphones, and that number is on the rise.

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What is online giving vs. mobile giving?

The two concepts are similar, but mobile giving occurs exclusively on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, whereas online giving typically occurs on laptops and desktops.

While donors can give through the same donation channels on their phones as they would on their desktops, the fact that they’re doing so on their mobile devices makes it mobile giving. For instance, if a donor gives to an organization through a donation page on their phone, it’s considered mobile giving. Other facets of mobile giving, however, are unique to mobile–like text-to-give and QR codes.

What is mobile giving vs. text-to-give?

Text-to-give is actually a common form of mobile giving. Mobile giving also includes emailed donation appeals, mobile-responsive donation pages, and mobile giving apps. So while all text-to-give is considered mobile giving, not all mobile giving is text-to-give.


Vocabulary used with mobile giving

Common Mobile Giving Vocabulary

We’ll go over a few key concepts you should know before diving into the specifics about mobile giving. Feel free to consult this section with any questions you have about mobile giving terminology!

Mobile-Friendly

Mobile-friendly refers to how content comes across on a smartphone or tablet. Mobile-friendly pages are visually appealing and fit within the confines of a mobile device’s screen, making it an easy user experience.

Mobile-Responsive

Mobile-responsive donation pages are forms that look and function well on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. These pages are typically designed with larger buttons and are set up vertically as opposed to horizontally.

Native Texting Application

Native texting apps are the text messaging portals that come standard on a person’s phone. For example, iPhones provide iMessage for texting capabilities. This is important in reference to mobile giving because organizations can send fundraising appeals and donation links in the form of texts for easy mobile giving.

Text-to-Give

At its most basic level, text-to-give involves donors texting a donation amount to a nonprofit’s number directly from the native texting app on their phones.

Once they choose a provider, organizations receive a unique donation number. Then, supporters can start donating by texting a donation amount to that number. They will automatically receive a reply with a link to a simple online donation form to complete with their contact and payment information and confirm their gift.

Text-to-Tithe

Another name for text-to-give, text-to-tithe is a term commonly used by churches that promote text-to-give during their services and events. Despite the name, text-to-tithe can be used by religious organizations to collect not only tithes but also offerings and other charitable gifts.

Information Capture

When donors use mobile giving to contribute to nonprofits, they must input certain information for the donation to be processed. Nonprofits can use their mobile giving platforms to capture data such as name, phone number, email address, billing address, and engagement history. This is known as information capture.

Short Code/Long Code

Short codes and long codes each refer to a type of mobile giving phone number an organization might be assigned when they register with a text-to-give platform.

Short codes are 5-6 digit numbers that donors can use from anywhere in the nation. They’re used to facilitate app-to-person communication. On the other hand, long codes are traditional phone numbers. Unique to each person, they consist of 10-digits that start with an area code.

Trigger Word/Keyword

Also known as a keyword, a trigger word is an easy-to-remember word or phrase that donors can type into their phones and send as a text to trigger a link to their phones. An example of a trigger word would be ‘GIVE’ or the name of your organization.

Types of mobile giving

Types of Mobile Giving

Text-to-Give

Text-to-give involves donors texting a donation amount and keyword to a number set up by the nonprofit organization. Here’s how it’ll work:

  1.  Your organization publicizes their specific number and keyword to give.
  2. A donor texts the keyword to your number to send a specified amount.
  3. Your organization receives the amount to help fund your mission.

It’s as easy as that!

Mobile-Friendly Donation Pages

Mobile-friendly donation pages are made to work well on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Nonprofits can direct donors to their mobile-responsive donation page by including links in emailed newsletters and social media posts.

Email Fundraising

Mobile email fundraising offers donors a way to give to nonprofits through their email inboxes. Emails are typically opened on mobile devices. Thus, nonprofits should take the initiative to launch mobile email fundraising campaigns as a part of their larger fundraising strategy to send readers to their mobile-responsive donation pages.

Mobile Giving Apps

Mobile giving apps act as customizable donation platforms. The apps enable organizations to design branded donation pages that donors can give through after downloading to their mobile devices.

After creating a mobile giving app, nonprofits can share the download link across their promotional channels to encourage supporters to download the application on their smartphones and tablets. Once donors have access to the app, they can quickly contribute gifts via the app’s donation page as often as they’d like.

Benefits of mobile giving

Benefits of Mobile Giving

Mobile giving is an essential tool for nonprofits in the smartphone age. Here’s why:

Security & Peace of Mind

With mobile giving, you can rest assured that your donors’ information is safe. Physical donations run the risk of getting lost in the mail or stolen. Mobile giving, however, incorporates two-factor authentication and PCI compliance, making it one of the safest fundraising options available. You and your donors can have peace of mind knowing that their donations and sensitive information are safe.

Ease-of-Use for Donors

Mobile giving reaches donors where they already are, making it convenient for them to give in a variety of ways. Plus, mobile giving technology relies on platforms that donors are already familiar with, such as text and email. Because they won’t have to learn a new technology to participate in mobile giving, donors can get set up quickly and easily.

Accessibility

Many mobile giving platforms now offer increased accessibility for all of your various donors. If a large number of your donors speak Spanish, you no longer have to worry about translating over the phone. Those donors can text in their donations using their native language, and the software will bring them through the process in Spanish.

Increased Retention

Successful donor retention is built on effective donor communication. Donors give to the nonprofits that they feel most connected to. Those bonds are forged through consistent interactions. Plus, mobile giving has the option to save your card info on the first gift so follow-up donations can be made in two clicks, or automatically with the option for recurring donations.

Valuable Data Insights

Every nonprofit needs to track its donors’ giving habits. With mobile giving, your nonprofit has an additional way to measure your donors’ giving habits. Here are some benefits it can provide for your organization:

  • Crafting more targeted asks
  • Choosing the best communications channel
  • Giving you a better idea of your donor base

For example, if you notice that a segment of your donors overwhelmingly prefers to give via email, it would be a good idea to send appeals to their most frequently used email address. Just make sure your messages are mobile-responsive so the recipient can give via mobile device if they’d like!

Ways to make use of mobile giving

Ways to Make Use of Mobile Giving

There are a variety of routes to take when implementing your mobile giving strategy. Determine which is most beneficial for your specific donor audience for the best results.

Via Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Mobile donation software allows your donors to become advocates for your cause on a grand scale through peer-to-peer fundraising. Because mobile giving is a portable form of fundraising, your donors can advocate for your mission, and as a result, can widen your network across the country–wherever they may be.

Through Direct Donation Requests

Most of your donors receive your asks on mobile devices. They’re coming through on platforms such as:

  • Mobile email
  • Social media
  • Text messages

Mobile giving technology allows them to give directly through those same mediums, increasing the likelihood that the eager donor will carry through with their gift.

Alongside Fundraising Events

When you have a captive audience, it’s easy to instruct them on how to give via the phones they’re already carrying! Additionally, you can even have screens that display text-to-give instructions alongside your fundraising thermometer to encourage everyone to get in on the fundraising action.

Mobile giving best practices

Mobile Giving Best Practices

Mobile giving, when done correctly, can be the main source of donations for your mission. Here’s how to make it happen.

Offer different giving levels.

When a donor arrives on a mobile-responsive donation page, they should be offered a
bit of guidance regarding giving levels. Rather than leaving the gift amount as a blank field, provide donors with a listing of suggested giving levels.

By including giving levels within your donation pages, you can encourage donors to give within a specific range and help increase your average gift size.

Optimize your digital marketing strategy for mobile.

One of the best ways to launch and market your mobile giving campaign is to optimize your digital strategy.

Luckily, most social media platforms make it simple to integrate links to your mobile donation pages—just be sure to learn the key distinctions and optimize your tactics accordingly.

Explain the mobile giving process to supporters.

Your supporters want to contribute to your mission. Be sure to provide them with concise instructions for how to give! Depending on how you reach your donors, you’ll want to tailor your explanation by:

  • Providing verbal instruction at live events
  • Including infographics in your emails
  • Posting a how-to on social media

This step is often overlooked, but the simpler the process is, the more inclined people will be to contribute.

Craft emails with mobile in mind.

It’s reported that 85% of users use smartphones to access email. What this means on a practical level is your team should craft emails that:

  • Display information vertically rather than horizontally.
  • Feature larger text and fewer images.
  • Load well on 3” by 5” screens.
  • Don’t require zooming to read.
  • Makes calls-to-action clear.
  • Incorporate easy-to-use email donation buttons.

If you keep these best practices in mind, you’re sure to see your email fundraising revenue increase significantly.

Pair mobile with offline strategies.

When paired correctly, mobile fundraising and offline strategies can do a world of good for your nonprofit, as you’ll reach a wider audience on their preferred platform.

For example, you can:

  • Include the URL to your mobile-responsive donation page in your direct mail appeals.
  • Send out a hardcopy newsletter with instructions for text-to-give fundraising.
  • Use a billboard to advertise your new mobile-giving app.
  • Create t-shirts for your event staff with your nonprofit’s text-to-give phone number on the front and back.

Mobile fundraising doesn’t have to exist in an online vacuum, so make the most out of your resources to spread the word effectively.

Include a clear call-to-action.

Your donors want to contribute to your cause, so let them know how they can help! Providing donors with a clear call-to-action in all of your mobile fundraising campaigns ensures that they’ll know exactly what the next steps are for donating. Display your call-to-action prominently so that when donors are ready to contribute, they can.

Incorporate multiple mobile giving options.

Some of your donors will like texting their donations. Others will prefer accessing a mobile-responsive donation page. The key to mobile giving is to offer something for everyone. Obviously, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin but assess what giving channels your donors prefer and offer them those options.

You have a multitude of mobile giving channels at your fingertips. Make use of them!

Mobile giving questions

Mobile Giving: Frequently Asked Questions

When getting started, your team may have a few questions regarding mobile giving. Here are some answers to the most common questions!

How long does it take for the donation to reach my organization?

With mobile giving technology, nonprofits can receive donations in a timely manner. Processing takes approximately three to five days, depending on your provider, and sometimes it doesn’t even take that long!

Are there caps on donation frequency and amount?

No! In the early times of text giving, donors could only give a maximum donation of $10 through text. Luckily, those days are behind us, and donors can give as little or as much as they’d like.

There are also no longer caps on frequency. If a donor wants to text in one $50 gift, she can. But, if she would prefer to give 10 donations of $5 over 10 messages, she could do that, too.

For nonprofits, this diversification and flexibility in gift frequency and amount means that donors are free to donate in the way they want. This freedom, in turn, leads to more total donations in the long run for the nonprofit.

What security measures are in place to protect my organization?

Next-generation mobile giving providers typically perform fraud analysis on each transaction they process. Here’s how:

  • All credit card processing must adhere to strict PCI (payment card industry) standards to keep donor data safe.
  • Many providers also use two-factor authentication
  • Tokenization ensures that donors’ information is protected

These attributes help guarantee that the nonprofit minimizes the risk of incurring penalty fees or fines for mismanaging donor data and the supporters’ data is safe.

Can we use our own payment processor?

Your organization can often use your existing payment processor when integrating mobile giving into your fundraising strategies. However, circumstances vary, and it’s a good idea to get in touch with a representative of your platform provider before making any assumptions. Many providers also offer payment processing services for nonprofits who don’t yet have one in place.

Is there a way to keep track of mobile donor data?

With mobile giving, your organization can keep track of several crucial donor data points, including:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Billing address
  • Giving habits

Mobile giving data can be integrated into your database or CRM, making tracking and analyzing easy. Your team can make your decisions going forward based on hard facts rather than assumptions.

How does pricing work for mobile giving?

Most vendors offer multiple pricing options so organizations of all sizes can implement mobile giving technology. Price packages vary from vendor to vendor and are usually determined by the features and number of transactions included in each.

Working with a third-party provider is commonplace and shouldn’t be viewed as negative. Rather than expending the time and energy it would take to develop your own mobile giving platform, working with an expert will free up your resources to focus on the fundraising at hand.

Steps to launch your mobile giving campaign

Steps to Launch Your Mobile Giving Campaign

In five simple steps, your organization can plan and implement a successful mobile giving campaign to help meet your fundraising goals.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Current Situation

Introducing a new fundraising channel into an overall strategy will probably require a reallocation of an organizations’ resources.

Here are a few considerations to take into account:

  • Which of your staff member(s) will oversee this strategy
  • What you’ll be using the new platform for
  • What the timeline is for implementing mobile giving
  • How you’ll let donors know about your new giving channel(s)

With a solid plan in hand, your organization will be 100% ready to incorporate mobile giving in your fundraising plan.

Step 2: Decide Which Mobile Giving Channels Are Right For You

Not every mobile giving channel is right for every nonprofit. It’s important to know which strategies you can easily implement and which ones your donors will most positively respond to.

To determine which channels work best for your organization, consider the following:

  1. What existing online/mobile fundraising strategies do you have in place? If you already have an online donation page, it might be easier to start with mobile-responsive donation forms than a mobile giving app.
  2. What channels have your donors expressed interest in? Poll your biggest supporters and ask them what they think. You can send out an email survey to get opinions from your donors and plan accordingly.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to just choose one mobile giving channel. There are a whole host of options to pick from. Find what works best for your organization and your donors.

Step 3: Choose a Mobile Giving Provider

Once you know exactly which mobile giving channels you’ll be taking advantage of, you’ll need to look for a provider whose services align with your needs.

Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What is our budget?
  • What do available providers offer?
  • How will this platform integrate with our other software?
  • What platforms best suit the needs of our donors?
  • Will we need training and support?

Use your responses to those questions (and ones like them) to guide your search and narrow down your list of potential providers. Anytime you bring new technology into the mix, you have to be proactive about selecting your organization’s best fit. Make sure you don’t just focus on the now. Look for a mobile giving platform that has the capacity to grow with your organization.

Step 4: Incorporate the Technology into your Existing Fundraising Plan

Mobile fundraising is not a solo act. It’s meant to be used in conjunction with your other fundraising strategies.

You might decide to:

  • Promote text-to-give at your annual fundraising event.
  • Let direct mail donors know that they can give via your mobile-responsive donation page.
  • Encourage new donors to try out your mobile giving app by mentioning it in your welcome email.
  • Use the data gathered through your mobile giving technology to learn more about donor-giving habits.

In each of these instances, you’re using mobile giving activities alongside your longstanding fundraising practices.

The most successful nonprofits recognize the value in letting their various fundraising techniques inform one another!

Step 5: Track and Adjust Your Strategies

For the best chance of success with mobile fundraising, it’s important to keep track of your campaigns and goals.

You’ll also need to monitor some key performance metrics (KPIs) such as:

  • Average donation size.
  • Donation frequency.
  • Donation growth over time.
  • Frequently used giving channels.
  • When donations are being made.


As you’re executing your campaign, note which strategies are working and which aren’t. Over time, you should adjust and correct where necessary.

The future of mobile giving

The Future of Mobile Giving

Mobile giving will only continue to gain more traction as people use their smartphones more frequently in their lives; it’s here to stay!

Technology is more prominent than ever.

Especially during the COVID-19 era, your audience is highly likely to be engaged online. Mobile fundraising meets donors where they already are, making it one of the most convenient channels for accepting donations.

Younger generations love giving via mobile devices.

Millennials and Generation Z are one of mobile giving’s primary demographics. Seeing as they’re the next generation of donors and mobile fundraising is their preferred giving channel, it should be here for decades to come!

Mobile giving has already proven itself.

Many organizations have already executed successful mobile campaigns. Since the technology has been introduced, there have been better fundraising results across the board. Text-to-give first became popular in 2010 with the viral Red Cross text-to-give campaign for Haiti earthquake relief, bringing in millions. Since then, many organizations have been able to successfully leverage mobile giving for their fundraising strategy. 

All about Snowball's mobile giving platform

Snowball’s Mobile Giving Platform

We recommend Snowball’s mobile giving platform for your nonprofit’s needs. With features from easy and mobile-optimized user interfaces, to fundraising data trackers, you’ll be on track in your fundraising goals.

What is Snowball’s solution for mobile giving?

Snowball is an all-in-one online fundraising platform with several features that make giving on the go swift, simple, and secure.

These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Text-to-give technology.
  • Mobile and online giving portals.
  • Responsive fundraising thermometers.
  • Donor management systems.

These solutions touch on just about every aspect of mobile giving out there. If you’re interested in a comprehensive answer to your mobile fundraising needs–look no further.

How is it better than our competitors?

Not only does Snowball offer all of these services in one neat package, but they also have a unique spin on mobile giving that makes it even easier and more convenient than it already is. Unlike other services, Snowball allows that same donor to give through an email or mobile donation page without having to type in their credit card information all over again.

That information is securely stored in a safe, 3rd-party vault and tokenized to eliminate the risk of identity theft and fraud. Plus, donors also never have to create an account or remember a password.

Above all, it’s affordable! Our software features a free online donation page and a low-cost premium plan for text to give. With this host of benefits, Snowball’s mobile giving option can help your nonprofit organization reap the benefits highlighted throughout this guide.


Wrapping Up

Mobile giving is an essential tool for nonprofit organizations in the 21st century, as your donors are highly likely to be smartphone owners. Meet your supporters where they are and offer the most straightforward option for contributing funds as possible! Besides, your organization will have a secure and easy method of fundraising in your toolkit.

Additional Resources

Virtual Fundraising Ideas: 60+ Campaigns for Online Success: Virtual fundraisers have the potential to increase mobile giving. With these ideas, your attendees don’t have to be geographically near to your organization or event to give money to your cause.

Boosting Conversion Rates: A Quick Guide for Nonprofits: To get more mobile donations, ensure that your donor journey is one that provides an intuitive giving experience for your donors. This guide will help you evaluate your current strategy.

Text-to-Give Guide: Text-to-give is a cornerstone of mobile donations. Find out how to leverage this key fundraising method mobile giving campaign with these best practices.

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