The future’s bright – the future’s mobile

Many charities are asking why and if they should engage in the world of mobile - Why do it? What advantages does it bring? How much does it costs? – What happens if I don’t? These are all good questions and before you read this article any further it is useful to take into account some of the following metrics.

The take up of mobile technology, particularly Smartphone adoption has been meteoric. To put it into simple comparative terms – 

The way people are now measured has resulted in new demographic notation – we no longer segment people into A,B,C1,C2, D & E (ex Professional to Unemployed) analysts and agencies now refer to “Generation C” where C now refers to “connected people” aged between 16 and 35. This new measurement is a major shift towards recognising that technology and cultural changes are affecting the way we communicate and engage. Applications like Facebook, Twitter and Mobile apps have driven this new shift where people expect instant access to information and the ability to communicate on the move as efficiently as possible. The main catalyst to this is the development and proliferation of the Smart Phone and mobile apps. Mobile has grown at a rate in excess of 1,000% of the adoption of the World Wide Web. It is estimated that there are more mobile phones on Planet Earth than there are people; that’s over 6 Billion handsets. Every person in the UK is predicated by analysts to own a Smart Phone over the next 5 year and mobile commerce is expected to process in excess of £500 Billion globally by 2016.

This all sounds great but how does it affect charities? Historically charities have utilised web sites and social media with many of the larger charities building mobile apps to supplement their messaging. This is a good approach but for many charities they do not have the budget or skill set to manage these programmes. It s estimated that to develop a mobile app can cost in excess of £100,000 and may require significant funding to support it through its life cycle – over a 5 year period this could equate to in excess of quarter of a million pounds. What charities need to ensure is that whatever channel they are using they are providing their supporter base with appropriate information about what they do and how they do it and more importantly, make it easy for them to access this information and with the proliferation of mobile technology, support that as effectively as possible. Software development is costly and time consuming, ask yourself the question are you a charity or a technology Company?

There is a lot of confusion about what “mobile” actually means. For some charities such as Comic Relief mobile, mobile is a platform for receiving donations through a focussed “call to action” where a high profile medium, such as television, is used for one night. This is very effective for them as they have a captive audience who is able to react to a text “ABCD” to “7xxx” number. For the rest of the sector this may not be an effective medium as the general public are less likely to remember 100+ numbers of charities that they may touch or be interested in. So how does one overcome this? There are easier ways to overcome this by utilising applications that provide the user with real names such as “Variety Club” when they want to make a donation. An application layer such as Just Giving or a mobile app such as giveonthemobile® provide these logical listings where text to donate services may miss the mark. A text to donate short code such as “SWIM07” has little meaning when displayed out of context.
There has been much talk about “mobile wallet” type applications such as Barclay’s PingIT being used for donations where a user could potentially donate to a charity using their telephone number – Solutions like this may cause problems as they are not closed loop environments and as such open to potential fraud or misuse. What happens if the number changes or a user miss types the number – where does the money go then? It is important that when adopting a mobile strategy for the purpose of payment that the solution delivers a safe and useable system that meets all of the requirements for compliance (PCI-DSS etc).

Mobile technology is not all about donations. Mobile provides a fantastic platform for the proliferation of news and information. Only a solution with an application layer can provide this. Pure payment apps or text to donate services do not support these services well. Only a true native mobile application layer can provide this – If you want to build a long term relationship with your donor base you won’t manage information exchange and engagement through a text message and for people on the go downloading a web site optimised for a PC won’t help either – only a native app can deliver the best experience.

One of the key questions that is asked is, how many charity apps are people likely to have on their phone? If you focus on your
 own app will you miss out on engagement with potential supporters, after all we read news papers every day that embrace 
stories from different genres and subjects – we don’t buy a newspaper for politics, one for sport etc we tend to choose one central repository for all.

Have you ever tried to view a normal web site on a mobile phone – it’s not easy! Understanding the difference between The Internet and The World Wide Web is important. Think of the Internet as a communications pipe and The Web as an application that uses the Internet to send information on. For charities that want to embrace the world of mobile the options are 1/ Optimise your web site for mobile viewing, 2/ Build your own mobile app or 3/ utilise a 3rd party mobile solution. For charities wanting to take advantage of mobile technology to its full extent – The good news is that the UK is the 5th most generous nation in the world and we are embracing mobile technology.

giveonthemobile® provides is a unique mobile solution that addresses all of the challenges of charity mobile engagement – m-commerce, News and Fundraising all in one platform for just 27 pence a day. If you would like to know more please contact us on 0845 519 6191 or email us at

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