Love it or hate it – Americans are addicted to their phones.
The vast majority of us – 95% – now own a cellphone of some kind.
77% of Americans own smartphones, those extremely powerful mini-computers in the palm of our hands.
This is up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey in 2011 of smartphone ownership.
Rather than lamenting our love of screens and mobile apps, innovative entrepreneurs are figuring out a way to make these powerful handheld computers work for the social sector.
Too often nonprofits want their donors, volunteers, and stakeholders to fit into a fundraising mold that they themselves created and perpetuate – writing checks, attempting to give via clunky websites, physical phone calls (does anyone do that anymore?), and the like.
While these traditional approaches are valuable and can yield great results, nonprofits do need to be thinking about OTHER kinds of stakeholders and prospects, and how they search for and acquire information about the causes they care about.
You know, those younger generations that we all covet and want to connect with?
(Caveat – Not only “young” people use smartphones and social media. Many Boomers and Gen X-ers are reliant on their smartphones for shopping, bank transactions, scheduling, and more.)
I came across two forward-thinking mobile app companies that are thinking strategically about the myriad of ways in which people are already using their devices – and they are fitting their business models into people’s existing behavior, rather than trying to change human nature.
Point app – Connecting would-be volunteers to local volunteer opportunities
As reported in the Columbus CEO magazine: Madison Mikhail Bush was sitting in her dorm room one evening, feeling frustrated.
“It was 11 p.m. and I knew that with my phone, I was able to order any type of food I wanted for delivery,” Bush says.
“But there was a soup kitchen down the street and I didn’t know how to help.”
She tried to call the soup kitchen on the phone several times, but found the process to be cumbersome, tedious, and just not worth her time.
Then she looked at her phone – the device where she made most of her purchasing decisions.
She thought, “What if there’s another way?”
What if signing up to volunteer at a local organization was just as simple and easy as ordering food, booking a flight, or making a purchase – using your smartphone?
So Bush designed the mobile app Point, which allows users to pick the causes they are interested in and indicate when they are available to volunteer, for example, mornings or weekends.
The app them finds local needs that fits those parameters.
Rachel Klausner, Millie founder and CEO, wants younger people – specifically millennials – to become more PROACTIVE about giving.
“The way that millennials tend to give is through these random one-off, peer-to-peer asks,” she told Fast Company.
“It’s very reactive giving. And I was wondering, ‘Can we make people more proactive and thoughtful about giving?’”
Klausner then analyzed the different features of the popular mobile apps to which people were already addicted, to see what they had in common.
While nonprofits do not directly get the individuals contact information, Millie is building a messaging feature into the app for organizations to connect with their donors through the app.
Nonprofits also have the ability to add modules to their profile that highlight in-person activities like volunteering or events, and can target them around specific zip codes.
For users, the act of giving is fun, and there is a sense of urgency with gamification features such as countdown timers and comparing your giving history to your friends.
Donors pre-load their accounts with cash, and they can lend funds to friends.
Free e-book for nonprofits: The Essential Guide to Nonprofit Facebook Groups!
Everything you need to get set-up and get started with Groups!
Facebook recently announced that they are going to put more an emphasis on building community and encouraging “meaningful interactions” on the site. This means less reach for public posts by brands and organizations.
So what's a nonprofit to do? Get in the community engagement game! One way to build a dynamic, passionate community is to create a Facebook Group.
In this step-by-step guide:
- The difference between Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages
- How to create a Facebook Group for your nonprofit
- The pros and cons to starting and managing a Facebook Group
- Key considerations when deciding to start a Group for your specific organization