Going Mobile

Truth be told, I’ve learned to hate this phrase. Not because it’s a bad concept, or because it’s a complete waste of time, but because of how misunderstood – and often misused – it is.

Remember when QR codes were the next big thing? Or when Twitter was going to kill Facebook? And Facebook was going to kill email? And email was going to kill print mail?

If any of these sound familiar, you’ll understand my frustration with mobile. Absolute dedication to – even obsession with – everything mobile, has gotten out of hand. Non-profits tend to seize on one big success, such as the Red Cross’s experience with mobile response to the Haiti Earthquake, and try to build the same thing – often at the expense of other programs.

Print mail, email, Facebook, telemarketing – they’re all still alive and well, part of a healthy direct response program. Rather than replacing each other (at least for the foreseeable future), these channels compliment each other by specializing in different audience mindsets and demographics. Same with mobile.

The trick is that not all mediums perform equally. If you’re like most nonprofits, the overwhelming bulk of your individual fundraising dollars probably still comes through print mail, and you’re probably not seeing anything more than pennies coming from Facebook compared to email (unless you’re running large -athon events).

Before thinking about putting your resources behind going mobile, first determine how much of your website and email traffic is actually on a mobile devices.

If you can’t determine that, stop reading right now and get Google Analytics installed on your website. It’s free, and any college or high school volunteer can have it active in about 5 minutes. Don’t forget to check out Google Grants while you’re at it.

Once you can identify how much mobile traffic you have, you can prioritize the value of getting your site and emails mobile optimized. It’s neither hard nor expensive anymore, even potentially free.

Of course, if you want to go beyond the basics, implementation partners are readily available. Any good programmer – within your org or out – can use the quick instructions right here. Don’t worry about trying to find someone who can write jQuery scripts in their sleep.

Hint: If they know how to pronounce C#, that’s a pretty good sign.