The marriage of mobile and social

DoSomthing.com offers a mobile-friendly platform, says Sharma

dosomething.org offers a mobile-friendly platform, says Sharma (Photo credit: Rona Chan)

As featured in The Guardian’s Pick of the blogs

How many unread emails are sitting in your inbox right now? And how many unread texts do you have?

Chances are the former number far outweighs the latter. Because of the urgency of the medium, we tend to respond to texts immediately; emails can be left unchecked (read: ignored) for days, weeks or more.

For nonprofits, mobile represents a huge but often underemployed part of their communications mix. Ritu Sharma is executive director of Social Media for Nonprofits, a US-based organization that brings social media education to nonprofits worldwide. She asserts that mobile is the next evolution in the social and communications space that nonprofits should be preparing for right now.

And the figures are compelling. In the US, 91 per cent of the population use a cell phone and 63 per cent only go online via their mobile. Latest industry figures show around 9 per cent has used their cell phone to make a charitable donation (compared to 20 per cent online).

According to research by Pew, mobile giving played a particularly prominent role in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Individual donors contributed an estimated $43 million to the assistance and reconstruction by responding to a text giving campaign.

Mobile donations may be beyond the financial or administrative reach for many nonprofits. But Sharma argues that there are “intermediate steps” to mobile comms, to ensure that your organization does not miss out on those users who only access information via their cell phones.

For example, is your e-newsletter mobile friendly? “A lot of email newsletters are not automatically mobile friendly,” says Sharma. This is an immediate turn-off for those supporters who access your messages via their phone. She advises to stick to single column content; use smaller/fewer images; use a low scroll and, crucially, keep it short.

Sharma cites the Pajama Program and dosomething.org as being among the US nonprofits using mobile effectively to reach out to their supporters and potential donors.

As well as using mobile to engage, Sharma says nonprofits can harness this medium for events – from auctions to conference registration.

She concludes: “Mobile has to be part of your entire brand.”

One thought on “The marriage of mobile and social

  1. Thanks for writing the blog about my session. Mobile is the first screen for many people and becoming so for even greater number of people. With such expansive adoption, nonprofits that don’t have mobile friendly presence will lose a significant number of potential donors, volunteers or advocacy supporters because the platform didn’t support their engagement.

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