How the Mobile Web and Social Media Drive Online Donations for Nonprofits

The way people donate continues to shift to online and mobile, said Mark Sutton, president of Artez Interactive, at the recent ArtezInteraction conference. Participants in non-profit events such as marathons or cycling who fundraised on the mobile web or via an app were two times more likely to raise money.

Further, 24% of those that fundraised on the mobile web used mobile apps. Up to 36% of fundraisers used mobile when fundraising. Sutton put the mobile fundraising lift at nearly $800,000 on average.

If non-profits only used a mobile app, though, the lift was just $220,000 on average. That goes to show the significance of using both the mobile web and mobile apps in fundraising strategy. Most of all, Apple destroyed Android in attracting 77% of fundraising dollars (Android attracted 23%).

Online and mobile have allowed non-profit fundraising organizations like Artez Interactive to thrive. The company has doubled in size in the last two years in Toronto, Boston, and Melbourne as they ran their sixth annual conference. James Appleyard, CEO of Artez Interactive, said that rather than just keeping up with the pace of change, he plans on keeping an “unfair fundraising advantage” for the dozens of organizations the company serves.

At the conference, Dave Simms of the Leukemia Foundation in Australia said that they were getting more than 60% of all donations from online sources versus traditional ones. That’s been in a steady climb from $2 million dollars to $10 million dollar worth of fundraising since 2006.

Simms added that traditional donation monies have not declined, but rather the online component has enhanced his charity. Australia has a similar population to Canada, so this is a great example. Charities should not be scared of shifting their donation efforts online or into mobile but an agile or lean startup approach is certainly recommended.

Facebook has been one of the biggest drivers of online donations for both Simms and the non-profit world. The conference attracted Facebook Canada’s Senior Business Leader Steve Irvine. In front of a somewhat bewildered non-profit crowd, Irvine demonstrated Facebook’s dominance in the social media space. He asked the crowd what they would do if they weren’t scared of the overwhelming power of social media.

Facebook has 2.5 billion pieces of information shared a day and 3.2 billion likes. Irvine says 517 minutes a month is spent on social media by Internet users a month, but 482 minutes are spent on Facebook. However, Ryan Davis, the Executive Director of Social Innovation at Blue State Digital, says that 60% of social media is untrackable and represents something he calls “dark social.” Irvine contended in saying that one in five of all minutes we spend online are on Facebook.

In Facebook marketing, Irvine said the big opportunity is connecting with your fans’ friends. Canadians have an average of 222 friends on Facebook.

As an example, US President Barack Obama has 7.4 million fans and therefore could potentially reach 139 million other people. His fans’ approval rating skyrocketed 5% when he announced Osama Bin Laden was dead. But his friends of fans approval rating went up 21%.

That illustrates the importance of building a page, connecting with the right fans, engaging with compelling content, and then getting the engaged to influence their friends. Furthermore, quality over quantity is always important to remember.

Irvine also illustrated that there are different kinds of audiences on Facebook. For example, top Canadian startup Beyond the Rack’s fans are 97% customers. Others just join a cause because their friends are joining in such as the amazingly popular Kony campaign in the spring. WeDay, touring across Canada, has also been a measure of success- donating a dollar for every fan where 2.4 million likes equals $2.4 million dollars.

There’s no question just how powerful the online and mobile space has become for fundraisers and will only continue to grow.