Guest Post: The Fundamentals of Mobile Fundraising

By John Killoran, CEO of @Pay

Before you learned to run, you had to learn to walk. Before you learned how to ride a bike, you probably needed training wheels (or at the very least, someone holding onto your back). Likewise, before you were able to hit the open road, you needed to learn how to drive.

The point is: no one starts out as an expert in anything. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s perfectly okay not to know everything there is to know about mobile fundraising.

That being said, “mobile fundraising” is a popular topic that keeps popping up all over the place. It might be time to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals. Wobble and walk so that you can run like the wind with mobile fundraising.

Read ahead to learn all about the basics of mobile fundraising.

And if you’re curious about how you’ll be tracking all the new donors you acquire through mobile fundraising, you can familiarize yourself with donor management software here.

Let’s Begin at the Beginning: With the Definition of Mobile Fundraising.

What exactly is mobile fundraising? It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot among nonprofit professionals.

But who really fully understands what the term means? By the end of this article, you surely will!

Mobile fundraising, by definition, is the raising of funds through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). It comes in many shapes and sizes, from simple text-to-give campaigns all the way to fully-blown mobile crowdfunding efforts.

What are Some Other Common Terms and Definitions?


The term mobile-responsive might seem highly technical, but it’s really not. What it usually refers to is a website’s ability to function just as well on a mobile phone or tablet as it does on a desktop or laptop computer. There’s nothing worse for a mobile fundraising campaign than a mobile website that won’t load properly.


Also known as text-to-donate, text-to-give technology allows donors to give to their favorite nonprofits using their phones’ native texting application. Donors will text a certain number, that number will send them a reply text with a link, and that link leads to a mobile donation page.

Mobile donation page:

A mobile donation page is a web page that gathers donation information, stores it, and processes it. They’re a lot like traditional and online donation pages; they’re just suited specifically for mobile devices.



QR stands for Quick Response. QR codes are those squiggly squares that you can scan with your smartphone, and they bring you straight to a nonprofit’s mobile website or donation page. They can be put on posters, flyers, event packets, anywhere really!  




What’s Different About Text-to-Give?

It’s a very common misconception that text-to-give campaigns and mobile fundraising efforts are one and the same.

The major distinction between the two terms is:

  • Mobile fundraising is the umbrella term.
  • Text-to-give is a part of mobile fundraising.

Apart from text-to-give, mobile fundraising encompasses:

  • Mobile crowdfunding.
  • QR code promotions.
  • Mobile donation forms.
  • Mobile email fundraising.
  • And more!

Who Fundraises Using Mobile?

While there are some nonprofits that use mobile fundraising techniques as a way to raise extra money, there are just as many that use it as a primary means of raking in donations.

If you’re looking for examples (both general and specific), look no further:

  • Health and wellness organizations.
  • Disaster relief funds.
  • Animal rights organizations.
  • Culture and arts nonprofits.
  • Environmental agencies.
  • Educational nonprofits.
  • Faith-based organizations.
  • Essentially any and all types of nonprofits.

Is Mobile Fundraising Right for My Organization?

As you read above, asking for donations via mobile is quite common across the board.

Before you can really determine if mobile fundraising is right for your specific organization, though, you must first ask yourself some key questions.

Here are just some examples of the questions you might want to ask before you consider getting started with a mobile fundraising campaign:

  • How have your donors given in the past? As you probably know, past giving is the greatest indicator of future giving.
  • Is your website up-to-speed? Would it work well on a mobile device?
  • Who would you put in charge of your mobile fundraising efforts?
  • How would you deal with the influx of data that comes with a mobile fundraising campaign? How would you go about retrieving and transferring information?
  • When would be the best time for you to get started?
  • How could your nonprofit stand to benefit from an alternative source of donations?

Of course, these aren’t the only questions you should be asking. A lot of serious planning goes into launching a successful mobile fundraising campaign. Just like you probably didn’t learn to walk in just one day, you probably won’t be able to get your nonprofit on board and organized around mobile fundraising right away.

It takes time and patience. But the results are definitely worth the work involved.

How Do You Get Started With Mobile Fundraising?

As with any large, involved endeavor, getting started with a mobile fundraising campaign takes forethought, research, and planning.

You wouldn’t buy a car without consulting the Kelley Blue Book or asking trusted friends and family for advice. Why would you leave something as important as your next major fundraising campaign to chance?

When searching for a mobile fundraising software platform (the technology that will help you get started), you should always keep in mind:

  • The needs of your organization.
  • The potential ROI (return on investment).
  • The way it will fit in with your existing fundraising software.
  • Security of information.
  • Ease of use.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of key considerations. They’re just here to help you start brainstorming.

After you’ve thoroughly researched and chosen the right platform for your nonprofit, nothing can stand in your way. You’re ready to run!


Now that you know some of the basics of mobile fundraising, you can feel fully comfortable to start planning your own successful mobile fundraising campaign.



John Killoran is CEO of @Pay, a exciting new fundraising technology that makes it easy for people to donate in two clicks from text, email, web and social media sites.  John pioneered SMTP payments and has been a major innovator in the mobile payments space for the past 5 years.     When he is not running a company, he is cooking food for his family and telling his dogs to stop barking.