Open Fundraising


Big dreams for the small screen


There’s been lots of on and offline chat recently about the engagement levels of supporters who give by mobile. Are they as ‘good’ or as ‘loyal’ as donors who give in other, more traditional ways? Will they give as much? Where are the legacy prospects of the future going to come from?


I worry that some fundamental points are being missed.


Mobile is great because it allows supporters to make a donation in seconds. An emotional response to an appeal can be converted into a gift in an instant.


But it’s not just about that single gift – it’s our job to make sure it doesn’t stop there. We have to make sure that the supporter continues to feel the passion that inspired their first donation and harness their potential as a long-term giver.


That potential is huge. After all we’re talking about a method of communication with an unprecedented open rate. Research tells us that over 90% of texts are opened and read within an hour. We’re in no doubt that this is the case – because when we ask supporters for any form of response, 94% of those that respond do so within half an hour.


So, we need to experiment and try new things if we’re going to really harness the potential of mobile.


This doesn’t mean reinventing the approaches we adopt. In the last few months we’ve been working on strategies and tactics for mobile donors that take their inspiration from the traditional fundraising journeys a lot of us cut our teeth on. We’re looking at supporter motivation, what drives their loyalty and how to raise additional revenue – the real science and theory behind retention.


But because it’s 2014, we’re applying this to the small screen and 160 characters.


And we’re learning a lot.


  • We’re learning that mobile regular givers will give extra cash with their phones if you ask them.
  • We’re learning that asking for a second cash gift via mobile pays off, even if someone didn’t convert after a one-off PSMS gift.
  • We’re learning that mobile-based journeys can reduce the attrition of direct debit supporters.
  • We’re learning that you don’t have to know someone’s name and address to know what motivates them and what sort of supporter they are.
  • We’re learning that click through rates from texts to mobile web are increasing every month because more people use their phones to access the web and we’re getting better at writing text messages.
  • Very importantly, we’re proving that what drives success in your offline cash programme can work in your online or mobile cash programme.


‘Mobile’ as a term is confusing the issue.


We need to focus on good ideas, proven fundraising theory and translating old ideas into new techniques. We also need some humility. Not everything I’ve been part of in the last few months has worked. Some of it has died on its arse. But it doesn’t matter because we need to fail from time to time so that we learn and keep things moving forward.


Paul de Gregorio


Photo borrowed from Emanuele Rosso.



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