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Five Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Mobile Website

March 14, 2012

With smartphones now outselling PCs and tablet sales surpassing even the most conservative of estimates, the majority of your nonprofit’s supporters will likely be browsing your website on mobile devices by 2013 – and unfortunately most nonprofits are not prepared for this dramatic shift in Web communications. That said, the following is a short excerpt from Chapter 9 of  Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits. The how-to of launching a mobile website and best practices for mobile design are covered in the book, however, they are also presented and elaborated upon in the upcoming webinar on Mobile Technology and Mobile Fundraising for Nonprofits.

For the most part, nonprofits have been slow to launch mobile websites. In 2009 and 2010, nonprofits were busy launching and improving their social media campaigns. The Mobile Web was on their to-do list, but it was relegated to 2011 and 2012. There were some early adopters, but for the most part nonprofits felt overwhelmed by the prospect of launching a mobile website. Thankfully, it’s not that difficult or expensive, but first it’s important to understand why your nonprofit needs a mobile website.

1. To Improve Your Group Text Messaging Campaigns

If your nonprofit is going to launch a group text messaging campaign, then you absolutely need a mobile website. Text messages are limited to 160 characters, and after a short while, text-only messages become boring to subscribers. You need to be able to send group text messages that link to Web pages where readers can “Learn More” or “Take Action,” but it makes no sense to link to a Web page that was designed to be read on a 12-to 14-inch computer screen—that is, your desktop website. In group text messaging campaigns, you need to be able to link to mobile Web pages designed to be read quickly and efficiently on 3-inch or less smartphone screens.

2. To Make Your Smartphone Apps More Functional

In 2009 and 2010, many nonprofits rushed to launch smartphone apps. The impulse to be an early adopter is to be commended, but there was a huge disconnect in those years, as it makes little sense to link to a desktop website rather than a mobile website in a smartphone app. For a smartphone app to be fully functional, it needs to link to Web pages that were designed to be viewed through mobile browsers. There’s little value in linking to your “Donate Now” desktop page through a smartphone app if a potential donor has to scroll right, left, up, and down and zoom in and zoom out just to fill out the required fields.

3. To Empower QR Code Campaigns

The increased use of QR codes in the nonprofit sector led to a lot of “Aha!” moments about the need for a mobile website. If nonprofits are going ask supporters to use their smartphones to scan a QR code that links to a Web page, then of course the QR code needs to link to a mobile website.

4. To Improve Location-Based Community Campaigns

If your nonprofit is going to utilize location-based communities like Foursquare, then there will be times when you’ll want a mobile website that you can mention and promote in check-ins and list on places, venue, or spot pages.

5. To OptimizeMobileSearch Engine Optimization

On the Mobile Web, it’s 1999 all over again. Mobile browsers are hungry for new mobile content. It’s a clean slate in terms of keyword and page title optimization. Get in now while the getting is still good!

Related Links:
33 Nonprofit Mobile Websites
Webinar: How Nonprofits Can Successfully Utilize Mobile Technology and Mobile Websites
Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits 
9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2012 4:54 pm

    Great article totally agree with most of your points

    I’m a bit saddened that ‘monetizing the mobile’ seems to be so hard. After all mobile phones are by most peoples sides 24 hours a day and are soon to be the main source of internet search.
    It would appear that too many intermediaries stand between NPOs and their supporters when it comes to donating on-line via mobile.

    The first two points in this article highlight the intermediaries and their ‘walled gardens’
    The telcos and texting : limited interaction, limited donation sizes, spam, high costs to set up, long lag time for the NPOs to receive the money. Its also only a national solution (but this will only negatively effect the largest of NPOs)
    The Handset manufacturers and their different Operating Systems. In order to reach all mobile phones (and tablet) subscribers you will need to build 9 different Apps for 9 different Operating Systems. This is out of the reach of all but a select few global brands. Think hard before building an App, the most successful ones are for gaming, weather, navigation, social networking, news. Unless there is a very good reason for users to come back to your App frequently you may find its a once used download wonder.
    Some of these Operating Systems won’t allow donations too so you may be limited yourself to an awareness campaign.

    So all in all.. get your website looking great
    Then create a wonderful mobilesite that works on all mobile phones.
    Then make sure all your advertising channels lead your supporters to an optimised and localised page that suits their device. Oh and because you know the IP address of the incoming supporter if you can deliver the content in their language of origin that would be helpful.


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