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Maintaining a mobile database is key for nonprofit success

March 1, 2012

WASHINGTON – Mobile presents a big opportunity and it is important that nonprofits define the engagement strategy. However, growing a mobile database is one thing and maintaining it is another, according to a Hipcricket executive at the Nonprofit Mobile Day.

During the “Mobile: The Multipurpose Tool That Drives Donations and Builds Awareness” panel, executives discussed how mobile offers nonprofits benefits, including the ability to send messages to constituents. The panel was moderated by John Styers, vice president of corporate strategy and industry relations at 3CInteractive.

“I think something that’s a lot more unique this year is that we’re seeing a lot more for profit clients helping nonprofit clients,” said Clay Shipman, director of brand solutions at Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

Heinz Ketchup’s recent QR code campaign is an example of a for profit helping a nonprofit.

Heinz put mobile bar codes on its ketchup bottles to support nonprofit organization Wounded Warrior Project.

Consumers were encouraged to scan the QR code with a smartphone to send a personalized thank-you to veterans.

For each thank-you send and each “Like” on the Heinz Ketchup Facebook page, the company donated 57 cents – up to $200,000 to Wounded Warrior Project.

Additonally, Mars Chocolate’s Snickers is helping nonprofit Feeding America by placing an SMS call-to-action on its candy bars.

The company is donating two meals for every person that texts in.

For example, users can text the individual candy bar’s unique bar code to the short code 45495.

“Mars is making the donation and people are engaging in a specific marketing program,” Mr. Shipman said.

“Snickers is growing an SMS database and Mars is donating money to the charity and engaging with the audience in the future,” he said.

According to Mr. Shipman, there is a huge depth of mobile technology that can be deployed if the endgame is to raise money and get donations.

“The conversion funnel will drive awareness,” Mr. Shipman said.

Raising awareness
It is important to give nonprofits a way to build an opt-in database the can be integrated with their overall marketing efforts, per the panel.

Mobile is both a great fundraising channel, as well as a good way to market to donors and prospects.

“Too often we focus on the donations component,” said Jenifer Snyder, executive director at mGive. “The first thing is to grow your mobile community – you can’t buy a list of mobile telephone numbers, you can take your existing database and we can tell you who has a mobile number.

“Secondly, it’s about donations,” she said. “Penn State recently had a danceathon where they raised $20,000 through $10 donations.

“Finally, there’s communication – you can use the mobile device to raise money and also communicate. Those are the three programs that we’ve seen great success with.”

Communication is key for nonprofits.

When nonprofits get donations from consumers, it is important to keep the communication open.

“You can text donors questions,” Ms. Snyder said. “Find out why they gave.

“It’s also important to get stakeholders in organizations involved,” she said. “So many stakeholders can use mobile delivery cause.”

Mobile plays a big role for nonprofits.

“The mobile phone the reason why you need to collect numbers,” said Christian Zimmern, vice president of the Mobile Giving Foundation.

“If I move, my address changes, my email changes, but 99 percent of the time what will not change is my phone number,” he said. “That’s a reason why you have to have the number and be able to communicate with the person.”

From left: Mr. Shipman, Ms. Snyder, Mr. Zimmern





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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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