Sunday, 5 December 2010

I can see the future in my pocket

I went to a fundraising conference recently and a very clever man proclaimed that 2011 would be the year of the mobile telephone.

I think he might have been a couple of years late. Supporters and the public already engage with us via their mobile devices. If you’re sending your supporters emails, have a Twitter or Facebook presence or just a web site, it’s likely that a large and growing proportion of people are accessing your content through their mobile device.

While the fundraising potential of mobile internet and smart phone applications is very exciting. You could argue that we haven’t yet fully harnessed the opportunities presented by the simplest form of mobile communication, SMS or texting.

Sure, we have generated massive volumes of text responses from print and other channels, and yes, there are great text to donate case studies to aspire to. But the potential of SMS is far more than a response tool for hand raisers or donors.

Recruiting a 1,000 hand raisers and just selecting them for a direct debit conversion telemarketing call is a wasted opportunity.

You will speak to 60% of them. 600.

About 10% will take out a direct debit. 60.

The ROI will be great and the attrition quite low. But while you get a donation from 6%, 94% will do nothing else after showing interest in you unless you have a plan.

It would be great to talk to them via SMS before and after any conversion request and attempt to engage them in conversation. It’s got to be better than making a conversion ask and then doing nothing!

We could….

  • say thank you.
  • ask them what areas of our work they are interested in and react to their responses.
  • encourage them to take other actions; maybe they could get their friends and family involved.
  • tell them about our Twitter stream or Facebook page.
  • even ask them what their name is!

Those that respond will be more likely to take out a direct debit, so engagement in this way will improve fundraising performance.

Keeping the conversation going long after the initial response is really important. If you gain a space on their mobile phone now, the chances are you will be still there at the end of 2011 ‘the year of the mobile’!

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