How to Adapt Your Nonprofit’s Marketing Efforts for an Increasingly Mobile World

At World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we’ve seen an explosion in mobile visitors over the past three years, and I’m betting that you’ve experienced the same.  We want to make sure we can provide these supporters with the content they are seeking, no matter what device they are using.  Thinking “mobile first,” we’ve focused optimizing our marketing efforts in these three key areas:


Nielsen reports that over two-thirds (67%) of mobile subscribers in the U.S. owned smartphones in Q4 2013—and in December they spent 34 hours using apps and the mobile web on those devices. Many of these people are visiting your website on their smartphones!  Make it a top priority for your organization to have a mobile-friendly website in 2014.

How and where do you start?

  1. Check your analytics to determine which devices your supporters most commonly use while visiting your website.  Optimize your page layout—or make sure your site is responsive—to accommodate those screen dimensions.
  2. Also, use your analytics to find which pages these people frequent.  Make sure those pages have a clean-looking layout and load quickly on mobile.  Consider hiding content that may not be relevant to a mobile user (for example: they wouldn’t need to download desktop wallpapers, but mobile-sized wallpapers are appropriate).
  3. Make sure your donation forms (especially the most-used ones, if you can’t get to all) work on smaller screens. Take time to go through the process of giving and figure out how to make it easy for a supporter who wants to donate via a mobile device.  What does that mean? Think large buttons and/or easy to select giving amounts, and integration to other payment methods besides credit cards.


Though the stats vary, approximately half of emails are opened on a mobile device.  In addition, the same subscriber may view your email on their mobile and, later, on their desktop, so you want to ensure that your message renders nicely in both situations.

Where to begin?

  1. Much like your website, make sure the font size is large enough to be read easily on a small screen and include a clear call-to-action with an easy-to-tap button.
  2. Think about optimizing images: Choose photos and graphics that look good both on a large and small screen (nothing with too much detail). And, make sure that when the image scales down to a small screen resolution, it still has the impact you want.
  3. Don’t just assume you know what is best for your subscribers.  Take time to test into your code, especially if you are hiding some content that is visible on a desktop.  You want to make sure that you are showing and hiding the correct items! Use an email preview tool to see how your message renders across various browsers, email service providers (ESPs) and mobile devices.  And allow yourself time to review deployment results to determine what subscribers are (and aren’t) clicking on.


Over 90% of all text messages are read within a few minutes of receipt! This is a sure-fire way to reach your supporters, so if you haven’t starting building your list of mobile phone opt-ins, now is the time.  Compared to a few years ago, connecting with your supporters today via mobile is more acceptable—and will continue to be even more so in the future.

Just how do you grow this list?

  1. Ask your advocates for their mobile phone numbers (as an optional field) on all pledges. We’ve found that including this additional field doesn’t deter constituents from completing the call-to-action.
  2. Give them a reason to connect via mobile: WWF offers mobile wallpapers as an incentive to sign up for SMS. We also promise to remind them of specific events and dates right before they happen, and this has proven to be successful. For example, with our Earth Hour campaign this year, we saw a ~30% increase in mobile sign-ups because we offered an SMS reminder the day of the event.
  3. Have a persona in your communications via SMS (I send messages from “Jess at WWF”) as this helps fit the messaging to the medium.  When you are casual and let your personality show through, it gives your audience the desire to engage.  But don’t just send messages from your organization; respond to inbound SMS, too.  Monitor conversations and reply appropriately when possible (note: you can also automate responses based on keywords!).  Your supporters expect a person is texting them, not a machine, so engage in two-way communications—you’ll keep your subscribers more engaged and less likely to opt out. 

As the Mobile Marketing Association states in their “Mobile Marketing Roadmap”: mobile isn’t a channel, it’s a medium.  It allows your supporters to easily stay engaged, as they are using mobile more and more for their online activities.

So, make it simple for them—and you—by taking the time now to ensure that all components of your marketing campaigns work on a mobile device.  You’ll be grateful you did, especially as you watch that mobile activity increase month over month into the future!

About the author:

Jessica Fraser Sotelo is the Deputy Director of Online Marketing at World Wildlife Fund.  She oversees email marketing campaigns for the organization’s Membership and Marketing Department, heads up SMS and text-to-give efforts, and manages the online Gift Center.  Jessica has nearly 15 years’ worth of experience working for non-profits, with a focus on online marketing for the past 10 years.  She holds a BA in Anthropology and a BA in French from the College of William and Mary.

Jessica Sotelo
Deputy Director of Online Marketing
World Wildlife Fund