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The Mobile Landscape: Reaching Your Next Generation of Donors


Jonathan GroverBy: Jonathan Grover, iNotForProfit

Think about this: There are over 1.08 billion smartphones in use today and that number is growing. Now digest this: In a single day in 2012 more iPhones are sold than people are born. Are you ready? Mobile Internet usage is expected to overtake desktop Internet usage by 2014. Have you started cultivating your next generation of donors?

You probably have a strategy for the mature donors (those born before 1960), which likely includes direct mail. You may even have a strategy for the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. But, do you have a strategy for Generation C?

The newest generation to emerge, ‘Gen C’, unlike other generations, is not grouped by age. Instead, Gen C stands for the digitally savvy and connected, born of and living through this digital age. Often debated, the ‘C’ in Generation C is thought to represent content, connected, change, and more. The one thing that is for sure: Gen C is connected to all things digital: web, social media, mobile. They are the next generation of donors and future of social citizenship.

So, why is this important?

To maximize your message – with the rise of the web, mobile apps, and social media, nearly everyone is connected online. The undeniable reality is that the long established methods just don’t cut it when trying to reach out to the digital generation.

A visible shift has been seen in the giving trends towards a preference for online giving. Not only are donors increasingly using the Internet, but they are also receptive to online giving relationships. In a study of “wired wealthy” donors, (Baby Boomers who on average donate USD$10,896 and are engaged online), eight out of ten have made donations online and half say that giving online is their preferred method of donating. These are major givers who spend 18 hours per week online, have used the Internet for an average of 12 years, and are familiar with the doing business online.

So the question is: why insist on spending money on paper, envelopes, and stamps when research shows that mail is rapidly decreasing as a way to reach future donors – only 19% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Generation X still learn about charities this way, and mail doesn’t even show up on the radar of Generation Y!

Technology has changed the landscape, and will continue to change it, faster than one can imagine. Future donors will respond best to calls of action from channels like social media and mobile. Proof you say? Chew on this: in Canada 71% of people age 12-19 have a mobile phone. An average American spends 2.7 hours a day socializing on their phone. That’s two times more than the time they spending eating and 1/3 of the time they spend sleeping.

How does one speak their language?

Are you tapped in? Website? Social media? Mobile presence? Check, check, and check… or is this on your to-do list?

No one takes their online presence more seriously than Gen C: it’s a reflection of their personal identity. Connection is their currency. Credibility is gained through sharing anything and everything online, and allowing everyone to follow you and be a part of your life. Gen C isn’t a single person, but one big interconnected group – you support a cause, I support a cause, we all support that cause. As Gen C flocks to social media platforms, the one device that has become indispensible is the mobile phone. It has become an extension of Gen C’s self and if you’re not accessible on it then they don’t know you.

Just how fast is this trend growing?

In the span of a year (from 2010 to 2011), mobile application usage overtook web browsing. In June 2010, Americans spent an average of 64 minutes a day browsing the web and 43 minutes on mobile apps. By December 2011, this number shifted: 72 minutes browsing the web and 94 minutes on mobile apps! Over half of local searches are done on a phone and over 86% of people use mobile Internet while watching TV! While having an online presence is huge, the numbers don’t lie: its time to start making way for the mobile phone.

Where does one begin?

The most successful organizations have a solid strategy. They’ve have considered their digital media strategy, and determined an action plan on how to best meet these new donors – Gen C – on their turf. Ad hoc work (such as building a website just to have one) typically will not yield the results one would be hoping for.

As you put together your strategy, make sure you consider the following:

  • With the resources you have, what is your organization realistically able to accomplish?
  • What is it that your organization wants to achieve with your digital media strategy? 
  • Who is your target?

A comprehensive digital media strategy will typically include these following components: 

  1. Online presence – a user-friendly website,
  2. Social Media – most notably Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, but there are many more available depending on your goals,
  3. Mobile – allowing supporters to learn about your organization and connect with you on their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). Some common approaches include a mobile-optimized website, a mobile app and text message campaigns.  

These 3 components are important to a good strategy, but a great strategy will integrated all of these pieces so that they work seamless together and with each other.

Once you have a digital media strategy for your organization, get the ball rolling! We recommend starting with an awesome website. This is the face of your organization, so whether you're creating or updating, make sure it's user-friendly, attention grabbing, and informational.

Eager to learn more?

We're going to be blogging more on this topic at In our next post we will discuss the importance of an online presence, breakdown the components you should consider when building a website, and highlight key points you should incorporate. 

In the meantime, the following is a link to an interesting infographic that was put together by attendees at the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference on trends in nonprofit technology.

Jonathan Grover is a social entrepreneur and founder of iNotForProfit. iNotForProfit works with non-profit and charitable organizations to provide affordable mobile application solutions without the need for technical resources. iNotForProfit's platform enables organizations to (i) better communicate, (ii) strengthen their constituency relationships and (iii) increase their fundraising capabilities.

Statistics in this post courtesy of: Convio, Sea Change Strategies and Edge Research; Microsoft Tag; Nielsen’s Consumer 360 and more. Links below: