Mobile 101: How Your Nonprofit Can Harness the Power of Mobile

According to statistics, there are 3.5 billion toothbrushes on the planet, but 4 billion cell phones.  And we’re addicted to these devices: 58% of smartphone users can’t go an hour without checking their phone, and 91% have it within arms reach 24/7.

But the question to the NTEN and nonprofit tech community remains: How can nonprofits harness the potential of the most popular tool in history for social change?

The good news is, efforts have already begun to take place.  A typical nonprofit already sees 30% of their website traffic from mobile devices, and Google just released a study which found that 25% of supporters discover nonprofits from their mobile device.  This transition is exciting given that TechImpact discovered that mobile users are nearly twice as likely to share on social networks, and now most emails are opened on smartphones or tablets.

With smartphone sales overtaking regular feature phones for the first time last year, and mobile web traffic overtaking desktop usage this year, big change is afoot for nonprofits, and for anyone else with an online presence.

I recently led a webinar via 4Good regarding how exactly nonprofits can leverage mobile for fundraising, marketing, advocacy, and programs.  But given the great conversations I had before and after NTEN’s 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., I wanted to take this opportunity to share arguably the most important tool covered in my workshop: the Mobile Matrix.  If your nonprofit wants to harness the power of mobile, the key is planning for success, and it’s just this simple:


This tool was developed by my new mobile startup, BetterWorld Wireless.  While working with our U.S. nonprofit customers, we realized that many had yet to realize that just like social media, mobile is a tool; it’s a means, not an end.  The real question is, what do you want to use it for?

The Mobile Matrix simply lays out the possibilities.  In a group meeting, talk through it and explore each cell.  For example, how can we use mobile to increase donations (i.e. Revenue from Donors), and how important is this for us versus using it to streamline operations (i.e. Efficiency with Clients)?  Simply put an “X” in your priority cells, or if you want a seat at the head of the class, rate each one 1-10 so you can sort through your options.

Form follows function: once you know what you want to use mobile for, then you can begin to devise a strategy, identify relevant tools, and move forward in a thoughtful, strategic way that maps to needed results, including fundraising targets. 

Whether it’s about growing revenue, increasing operational efficiencies and cutting cost, more effectively communicating with your constituents, or better serving clients, the key is to follow the great advice of T.E. Lawrence and, “Dream your dreams with open eyes, and make them come true.”

Check out the archived webinar if you want to learn more about TextToGive, Mobile Apps vs. websites, staffing considerations, analytics, and other mobile fundraising opportunities.  BetterWorld Wireless is also about to kick off a four-part Mobile Impact webinar series via TechSoup, our launch partner, in May and June if you want to dive deeper—follow me on Twitter to stay tuned.

Finally, on the off chance you’re somehow wondering if the next generation of donors is mobile, the answer is a clear yes.  In fact, the average age for a first cell phone is now 13.  Mobile is the future, but it’s here today.  Now it’s up to you and your cause to take full advantage of the tremendous opportunities it represents- good hunting!

Darian Rodriguez Heyman
Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer
BetterWorld Wireless