Mobile Giving: The Effective (and Actionable) Guide

Overview of Mobile Giving

Mobile Giving: The Basics

What is mobile giving?

Essentially, mobile giving involves donors using their phones and tablets to give to nonprofits, churches, and other organizations they care about.

Mobile giving vs. text-to-give?

Text-to-give is actually a form of mobile giving. Mobile giving also includes emailed donation appeals, mobile-responsive donation pages, and mobile giving apps.

How Popular is Mobile Giving?

Mobile giving is steadily rising in popularity and has cemented itself as a fundraising strategy that is here to stay. It’s easy to use, and nonprofits can reach donors anytime and anywhere.

Online Giving vs. Mobile Giving


Mobile giving and online giving have many overlapping areas. That said, mobile giving and online giving are not, in fact, synonymous.

Mobile giving occurs exclusively on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

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 phones 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.

If they give through that same portal on their home computer, then it’s considered online giving.

There are, of course, facets of mobile giving that are unique to mobile–like text-to-give and QR codes.

Takeaway: Mobile giving and online giving are not the same, although they do have some overlap. Mobile giving encompasses more donation avenues than does online giving, and mobile giving can be done any time, anywhere.

Types of Mobile Giving


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

Once they choose a provider, organizations set up a unique donation number. From there, the only thing left to do is to let their donors know how to get set up so they can start text giving.

When donors know the organization’s number, they can start donating by simply texting a donation amount to that number. Then, they will automatically receive a reply with a link to a pre-written email they must send to successfully submit their donations.

Click here to learn more about text-to-give.

Mobile email fundraising

Mobile email fundraising offers donors a way to give to nonprofits through their email inboxes.

Because emails are often opened on mobile devices, it only makes sense for
nonprofits to launch mobile email fundraising campaigns as a part of their larger fundraising strategy.

Organizations can incorporate donation buttons directly into their email campaigns, so donors can give via the email applications on their phones or tablets.

Learn more about fundraising via email.
A church member is given multiple online church giving options to choose from.

Mobile-Responsive Donation Pages

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

Nonprofits can direct donors to their mobile-responsive donation page by including links in emailed newsletters and in social media posts. 53% of emails are read on mobile devices and 65% of social media users access those sites on their phones and tablets.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense for nonprofits to use email and social media to drive traffic to their mobile-responsive donation page.

Raise more from 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 the application on 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.

Learn how to pick the perfect mobile giving app.
There are deals for churches when it comes to online church tithing tools.

Common Vocabulary


Mobile-friendly refers to the way something displays on a smartphone or tablet.

Mobile-friendly pages are visually appealing and fit within the confines of a mobile device’s screen.


A desired quality in webpages, mobile-responsiveness refers to a page’s ability to resize,
pan, and scroll, improving the mobile-user experience.

Native texting application

Native texting applications are the text messaging portals that come standard on a person’s phone.


Another name for text-to-give, text-to-tithe is a common term used by churches who promote text-to-give during their Sunday morning services.

Information capture

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

Technical Terms Translated

Short code/long code

Short codes are 5-6 digit numbers that can be used from anywhere in the nation. They’re used to facilitate app-to-person communication.

Long codes are traditional phone numbers. Unique to each person, they consist of 10-digits that start with an area code. They are used to facilitate person-to-person communication.

Two-factor authentication

Also known as two-step verification, two-factor authentication seeks out identification of donors through two different means.

For instance, if a donor texts a donation to a nonprofit (the first authentication) then sends an email confirming the donation (the second authentication), the nonprofit knows with more certainty that the donor is authentic–neither a robot nor a scammer.

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 in order to trigger a link to be sent to their phones. An example of a trigger word would be ‘GIVE.’


PCI-compliance means that a mobile giving provider is in line with the standards
determined by the Payment Card Industry. If a mobile giving provider is PCI-compliant, it
signals that donor data will be safe and secure.


Tokenization is the act of replacing sensitive data with a non-sensitive code that’s
referred to a token. The tokenization adds a layer of protection to donors’ information.

QR Codes

A QR (Quick Response) code is a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone. QR codes can easily be linked to mobile donation pages.

Mobile Giving in Practice

Benefits of Mobile Giving


With mobile giving, you can rest assured that your donors’ information is safe.

Checks can get lost in the mail or stolen. But mobile giving 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 information and donations are safe.

Mobile giving reaches donors where they already are, making it convenient for them to give wherever, whenever.

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 take part in mobile giving, donors can get set up quickly and easily.

Many mobile giving platforms now offer increased accessibility for all of your various

If you happen to have a diverse donor base, then mobile giving might be the right option for you. Certain mobile software has the capability to pick up on different languages and interpret the messages accordingly.

For instance, if a large number of your donors speak Spanish, you no longer have to worry about having to translate over the phone. Those donors can simply text in their donations using their native language, and the software will bring them through the process in Spanish.

Successful donor retention is built on effective donor communication. Donors give time
and time again to the nonprofits that they feel most connected to. Those bonds are forged through consistent interactions.

A mobile fundraising strategy makes frequent donor communication a breeze.

Since most people go everywhere with their smartphone in tow, reaching out via mobile ensures that you’re getting in touch with donors through a medium they regularly visit.

Every nonprofit needs to track its donors’ giving habits. Not only does it help organizations determine the best communication channel for specific donors, it also can be useful for crafting donation asks, especially year-end appeals.

With mobile giving, your nonprofit has one additional way to measure your donors’ giving habits.

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.

If a segment of your donor population loves text-to-give, incorporate it into your next fundraising event to encourage your other attendees to get on board.

Ways that nonprofit and faith-based organizations use mobile giving


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

Direct asks

Most of your donors are receiving your asks on mobile devices (through mobile email, social media apps, etc.). Mobile giving technology allows them to give directly through those same mediums.

Funding specific projects.

Some of the most notable mobile fundraising campaigns use mobile to fund specific and/or short-term projects. Grounding your mobile fundraising campaign in a concrete goal provides clear direction.

Information capture.

Next-generation mobile fundraising platform providers make it easy for nonprofits to export their mobile donor data and transfer to their CRM. This data collection gives greater insight into donors’ preferences for customized future outreach.

One-time only events.

From benefit concerts to fundraising galas and more, mobile giving technology allows nonprofits to encourage instantaneous donations. No more waiting around to cash checks after fundraisers.

Recurring events.

Whether you’re a church that collects mobile tithes every Sunday or a nonprofit that hosts monthly community events, mobile giving technology makes the process of accepting recurring donations easy.

Why mobile giving is so popular among churches

Church online tithing has increased 15% over the last year.

With weekly Sunday services, churches face the unique challenge of finding the most efficient way to accept a large number of in-person donations at one time.

Collection plates were once the best way to go.

Text-to-tithe technology makes Sunday collection so much simpler. Texting in their contributions enables congregants to give right from their seats. This makes the process much more smooth for both the church and its members.

Plus, since fewer and fewer people are carrying cash, text-to-tithe provides congregants with a more modern and flexible contribution option.

Mobile giving best practices

In the past year, mobile giving donations have increased 205%, which is great for church online giving!

Offer different giving levels.

When a donor arrives on a mobile-responsive donation page, they should be offered a
bit of guidance when it comes to giving levels.

Rather than leaving gift amount as a complete blank field, provide donors with a listing of different giving levels.

By including giving levels within your donation pages, you can encourage donors to give within a specific range.

Additionally, suggesting specific giving levels can help increase your average gift size.

Think about it this way. A donor arrives on your mobile-responsive donation page with the intention of giving $25. When she accesses the form, she sees different giving levels of $20, $30, $50, and so on, with the $30 option highlighted.

While she may choose to fill in the “Other” field with her $25 donation, it’s far more likely that she’ll choose the pre-selected $30 option.

Offering different giving levels with one option highlighted is a great way to increase your average gift size and make the donation process easy for your mobile donors.

Optimize social media strategy for mobile.

65% of people browse social media exclusively on their phones. Therefore, one of the best ways to launch and market your mobile giving campaign is to optimize your social media strategy.

Social media platforms make it simple to integrate links into your mobile donation pages. For each site, there are different best practices for doing this. It’s important to learn the key distinctions and optimize your tactics accordingly.

The same notion is true of marketing your mobile giving campaign through social media. It’s important to be platform-specific.

Explain text-to-give at an event.

Text-to-give and live events were made for each other.

When you have a captive audience (the majority of whom will have their phones on them), it’s much easier to instruct them on how to give via mobile.

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.

Craft emails with mobile in mind.

More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Therefore, it only makes
sense to create your emails with that in mind.

What this means on a practical level is crafting emails that:

  • Display information vertically, rather than horizontally.
  • Feature larger text and fewer images.
  • Load well on 3” by 5” screens.
  • Don’t require pinching or zooming to read.
  • Are straight-forward and make 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.

Mobile fundraising and offline strategies, when paired correctly, can do a world of good for your nonprofit.

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.

In other words, mobile fundraising doesn’t have to exist in an online vacuum.

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 making a donation.

Display your call-to-action prominently, so that when donors are ready to contribute, they can.

Offer different 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 options at your fingertips. Make use of them!

Why mobile giving is a trend that’s here to stay

Technology is more prominent than ever.

A whopping 90% of American adults own a smartphone. Mobile fundraising meets donors where they already are, making it one of the most convenient channels for accepting donations.

Millennials love giving via mobile devices.

Millennials 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.


Questions to Consider Beforehand

The best online giving software providers, like @Pay, allow churches to use their own payment processing.
  • What type of mobile giving is right for us?
  • Will this be year-round or for a one-time project?
  • What is our budget?
  • How will our resources be allocated to accommodate mobile giving?
  • Who will be in charge of running the campaign?
  • Do we need to integrate with our CRM? Other fundraising software?

What goes into the price of mobile giving?

Myth: Mobile giving is priced as a flat fee for all organizations.

Reality: 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 included in each.

Myth: Your nonprofit needs to buy a $3,000 short code.

Reality: Next-generation text-to-give providers don’t require nonprofits to purchase short-codes. Instead, a nonprofit is given a specific phone number that donors can simply text a donation amount to. The process is much simpler and far less expensive.

Myth: Your nonprofit needs to work with a third party, and that’s going to cost you.

Reality: 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, let the experts help you out. It’ll free up your resources to focus on the fundraising at hand.

Steps to Launch Your Campaign

There's a 35% increase in giving when there's a crowdfunding thermometer as a part of your church online tithing tools.

Step 1: Take Stock of Your Current Situation

Introducing a new fundraising channel into their overall strategy will probably require a reallocation of resources for most organizations.

Make sure your nonprofit has room for a new fundraising channel by making a plan for your mobile fundraising campaign.

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 campaign.

With a solid plan in hand, your organization will be 100% ready for mobile.

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.

In order 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: Pick a 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:

  • What is our budget?
  • 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 a new technology into the mix, you have to be proactive about selecting the best fit for your organization.

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, and your organization should too!

Step 5: Track and Adjust

For the best chance of success with mobile fundraising, it’s important to consistently keep track of your campaign to see if you’re reaching your goals.

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions about Mobile Fundraising

For Organizations

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

With mobile giving technology, nonprofits can receive donations almost instantly. Processing takes approximately three to five days, and sometimes it doesn’t even take that long!

Are there caps on donation frequency and amount?

The short answer? 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, all of this diversification and flexibility in gift frequency and amount means that donors are free to donate in the way they want to. 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.

All credit card processing must adhere to strict PCI (payment card industry) standards in order for donor data to be kept safe.

Many providers also use two-factor authentication and tokenization to ensure that donors’ information is protected. This also helps guarantee that the nonprofit runs no risk of incurring penalty fees or fines for mismanaging donor data.

Can we use our own payment processor?

Your organization can use your existing payment processor when integrating mobile giving into your fundraising strategies.

However, circumstances will 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 is able to keep track of several donor data points including:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Billing address
  • Giving habits
  • And more!

Mobile giving can be integrated into your database or CRM, making tracking and analyzing easy.


For Donors

Is this donation going on my phone bill?

With next-generation text-to-give and mobile giving providers, donations are not added onto a donor’s phone bill. They are instead debited or credited directly from a donor’s card.

Payment information should only be entered once, so giving on the go is a simple, streamlined process that doesn’t require having a card on-hand at all times.

Can nonprofits bother me on my phone?

No. Most text-to-give platforms only support one-way communication, so nonprofits won’t be able to contact donors via text after they’ve made a donation.

However, if they use mobile email to submit a donation, organizations will be able to contact donors subsequently through email. If donors wish to stop receiving their emails, they can easily do so by unsubscribing from the mailing list.

Where is my credit card info being stored?

The industry-leading platform providers will adhere strictly to PCI standards. Customers’ full payment information should be stored in an independent, secure, 3rd-party vault.

Sensitive data should also not be connected to any of your mobile transactions. They should always be tokenized and transmitted through secure HTTP connections.

How do I know my donation went through?

Donors will receive a different type of confirmation message depending on which form of mobile giving they have used.

  • Mobile-responsive donation pages will often have acknowledgement screens and follow up with a confirmation email.
  • Text-to-give platforms will send confirmation texts or emails to let donors know their contributions were received.
  • Mobile-giving apps often have confirmation screens within the specific app and will also send out an acknowledgement email.
  • Donations sent via email are confirmed via email.

Could someone steal my identity?

Donors should know that as long as they’re giving through a secure mobile platform, the protection of their information is a top priority.

Platforms typically have security measures in place, such as adhering to PCI-compliance standards and tokenizing personal information to prevent such occurrences.

When in doubt, never hesitate to look into the protections provided before sharing any sensitive data.

Snowball’s mobile giving platform

What is Snowball’s solution for mobile giving?

Snowball has several features that make giving on the go swift, simple, and secure.

They include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Text-to-give technology.
  • 2-click email donation buttons.
  • Mobile and online giving portals.
  • Responsive crowdfunding thermometers.
  • And more!

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

Why is it better than the competitors’?

Not only does Snowball offer all of these services in one neat package, they also have a unique spin on mobile giving that makes it even easier and more convenient than it already is.

Say, for instance, a donor gives to your nonprofit through a text message.

Unlike other services, Snowball allows that same donor to give through 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.

Donors also never have to create an account or remember a password.