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We’re in the midst of a mobile revolution.  The number of smartphones on earth is rapidly increasing due to high global demand and is expected to continue increasing to 5 billion by 2020. Benedict Evans, a16z partner, noted that smartphones are “the first tech product bought by almost everyone on earth every 2-3 years.”  As a nonprofit leader, it is not only your job to understand the importance and impact of the smartphone revolution, but also to make sure your organization is staying on top of it. Relevance is survival in the nonprofit space.




The Transition from Desktops to Mobile Activity


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In the last few years we have hit some important milestones in the transition from desktop to mobile.  Now don’t get us wrong, desktop is not dead.  For example, we’re a long way away from building your enterprise mobile platform on our phones.  Only the craziest among us would prefer to debug thousands of lines of code on a 5-inch screen.  But for the majority of time most of us spend using our technology, the smartphone will do.  


In 2014, the average person spent more time using their smartphone to access the internet than their desktop.  By March of 2015, more people used their smartphones exclusively than their desktops.  And by May of 2015, Google reported that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches for the first time.  


Still don’t think mobile matters? began seeing more traffic from mobile than desktops way back in 2013.  By digging into the data, they discovered that mobile wasn’t just convenient– it was empathetic.  Most people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS receive their diagnosis at a clinic or doctor’s office.  They’re scared and shocked and want more information.  But guess what?  They’re not in front of their computers.  They reach for their phone and end up at  


So ask yourself one question– when your potential donors are ready to engage with your organization, are you ready to give them what they need?


If you’re using smartphone apps (of any kind) in your organization, then you understand the importance of this revolution.  If not, you’re behind and it is time to catch up.  But do not fear! We’ve provided some training wheels to help you understand mobile a little bit. Here are a few ways to engage with smartphones and some helpful hints related to each method of engagement.


Responsive Websites

The first way for nonprofits to engage with smartphones is also the easiest to do: build a responsive website.  In laymen terms, a responsive website knows if you’re on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, and shows you the layout that looks the best.  Having a responsive website eliminates the need to manually zoom in and out of the page making it a more pleasant user experience. By simply enabling your website to be mobile, it can increase engagement on a website by 7% and increase visitors by 11%.




Here are three great articles that will help you build a mobile responsive website:

  1. 10 Developer Tips To Build a Responsive Website [Infographic]
  2. How To Create a Responsive Website
  3. Building Your Mobile-Friendly Website


Mobile Marketing

The second way to engage in the smartphone revolution is through mobile marketing. Email marketing has been around for a long time but with most or your donor base owning a smartphone, email is now accessible 24/7.  47% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and that number is increasing.  Another common form of mobile marketing is SMS and MMS.   You can easily blast upcoming offers to customers and it is also convenient for the customer because they can easily opt out of these messages.  


With the growth of mobile, email and SMS/MMS are not the only forms of mobile marketing to pay attention to.  Social media ads are becoming a huge thing and could seemingly be where you’ll get the most amount of click throughs.  74% of marketers saw an increase in website traffic after investing just 6 hours per week in social networking.  There are more forms of mobile marketing than the 3 we’ve mentioned here find the ones that work best  for your company and it’ll flourish.


Helpful hints for effective mobile marketing:

  • Responsive Website:  Your mobile marketing plan means nothing if you don’t have a responsive website that consumers can land on to take advantage of the offers you propose.
  • Adapt and Evolve:  You must test your design and strategy to make sure it is appealing to the consumer and also effective in driving traffic and ultimately, revenue.


Mobile Social Media

The third way to engage in the smartphone revolution is through Social Media.  Social media has grown tremendously in recent years making it easier to get your organization’s message out to its community.  One tweet or facebook post can reach millions of people, if re-tweeted or shared.  For example, the world witnessed just how influential social media could be with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Through a viral marketing campaign, heavily driven by Facebook, the ALS raised $100.9 million and gained 2.2 million new donors.  ALS did not plan on the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, rather a carefully built and captivating social media strategy made the ALS a YouTube and Facebook video starling.  Another great thing is that most successful social media platforms are accessed primarily through mobile phones.


Shaw ALS Football

Tennessee Titans football players participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge.


Helpful hints for a captivating social media strategy:

  • Time it properly:  Most things go viral during the summer months when schedules are a little more loose.
  • Keep it simple:  Create a social media trend that is easily duplicated and appealing to everyone from celebrities to your average joe to gain traction.
  • Push for awareness:  The ice bucket challenge didn’t press for donation, their main focus was building awareness and that eventually brought in more money than they planned for.


Custom Mobile Apps

Finally, if you’ve been unable to find a solution that adequately supports your organization, custom mobile applications (and software applications, in general) are often a great way to solve internal problems. We work with hundreds of nonprofit executives who say, “wouldn’t [insert feature] be cool for us to engage with [insert stakeholder]?” and our answer is always, “Maybe. But what is the business case for the feature?” By this we mean that nonprofits, similar to for profit businesses, need to evaluate a few key questions as they think about building mobile applications:

  1. Does this feature or technology exist today?
  2. Who cares about technology?
  3. How much do they care?
  4. Why do they care about the technology and how does that fit into your organization’s unique value proposition?


If you can answer those four questions successfully, congratulations! You’re further along than most NPOs. If not, do not worry. Most organizations are not thinking this way yet. That’s where the tech nerds at PwrdBy comes in to help.



The smartphone revolution is already here. If you’re not on board, you need to be. As discussed, you can do this through building a mobile responsive website, mobile marketing, social media, and mobile apps. This is not a comprehensive guide but will get you going in the space. As well, if you want to discuss more, feel free to contact us at PwrdBy.