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The Seattle Foundation taps mobile to drive donations

August 16, 2012

The Seattle Foundation recently ran a campaign that generated $7.4 million in online contributions for nonprofits, 2.7 percent of which came through mobile.

The goal of the GiveBig campaign was to raise awareness for local giving and local nonprofit organizations. The Seattle Foundation worked with Gist Lab, Pyramid Communications and Millennial Media on the campaign.

“The Seattle Foundation wanted to raise money for GiveBig, increase name recognition for The Seattle Foundation in the greater Seattle area and build awareness of its online giving center and empower people to give philanthropically to local nonprofits,” said Mary Grace Roske, vice president and director of communications at The Seattle Foundation.

“The Foundation knows that mobile is an integral part of many people’s daily online life,” she said. “Mobile advertising was an integral piece of a geo-targeted campaign to reach people at work, home and play.

“Because the campaign has a short life cycle, reaching people through multiple channels is important for building the campaign’s momentum and driving people to action.”

Driving awareness
The campaign ran targeted ads to King County residents who were spending time at key Seattle landmarks.

The Seattle Foundation ran banner and rich media ads that featured a video of Steve Zakuani, the Seattle Sounders FC forward.

Additionally, the campaign targeted Twitter application users in the local area with creative that featured a Join and Share button to entice more Facebook “Likes” and Twitter followers.

According to the company, a day prior to the annual fundraising event a mobiblock was executed to give the campaign the extra push needed in the final hours.

The Seattle Foundation also say 20 percent of traffic to the Web site coming from mobile.

“The GiveBig campaign relies on a strong mix of traditional and digital media although it is primarily an online event,” Ms. Roske said.

“Mobile is a key part of that mix and it extends the opportunity for individual donors to give to the campaign whether they are at their computer or their mobile device,” she said.

“The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig campaign generated a stunning $7.43 million in online contributions for nonprofits, more than twice last year’s results of $3.6 million and an amazing testament to the philanthropic spirit in King County.”

Key factor
Mobile is a great way for organizations to drive donations.

Additionally, using the medium as part of a campaign is a great way to drive awareness  –especially for something that is time-sensitive.

“The ability to leverage location makes mobile an incredible powerful fundraising tool,” said Marcus Startzel, general manager of North America at Millennial Media, Baltimore, MD.

“The Seattle Foundation targeted a predetermined county where they knew the fundraising message would resonate, and to maximize the dollars brought in, they were also able to target select affluent areas,” he said. “Cause marketing organizations have found that mobile is an effective channel to both raise awareness and drive direct donations.

“Millennial Media has worked with a variety of organizations like this over the years, ranging from The Good Belly Project to The Texas Department of State Health. Through all the campaigns we’ve run, two main themes have really stood out. First, organizations are taking advantage of the immediacy of mobile to reach consumers in unique situations, and secondly, organizations are using mobile to reach real-world audiences that fit their target demographics.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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

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