Top Things I Learned At NTC 2014

Last week, I attended the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network’s wonderful Nonprofit Technology Conference in D.C., and I wanted to share some of the cool new ideas I learned:

Mobilize Your Website

Depending on your donor base, you may already see that a large chunk of visits to your website are on mobile devices. (By hand raising in the session, over half of the attendees are seeing almost 50% of their traffic coming from mobile devices. At our organization, our numbers are much lower because our constituents tend to be older, but they are growing steadily.) As the number of mobile users continues to grow over the next few years, your nonprofit’s website should be prepared!

Basic ideas to making your website mobile-friendly:

  • eliminate horizontal scrolling
  • make text easy to read without resizing or zooming
  • make it easy to use finger tips for buttons and links
  • simplify navigation and content to focus on what the mobile user wants (the top content for your mobile users might be different than desktop users – give your mobile users the content they’re looking for.)
  • enable fast page loads (to lower bounce rates)



Some additional ideas when making your emails mobile friendly:

  • make the form fields larger, and use less form fields (on the users’ mobile devices, there are no form fillers like on a desktop computer, so nothing is automatically remembered and they’ll have to manually fill in each form field.)
  • test PayPal or Amazon checkout options to make checkout easier
  • "vault" regular donor's credit cards so they don’t have to remember each time

Try Texting Your Constituents

The average open/read rate for text messages is 97%! And those higher read rates result in higher action rates from text messages. Isn’t it time your nonprofit looked into texting your constituents? 

You can use text messages to promote many different goals of your nonprofit. Some examples include asking your users to:

  • Donate
  • Call their congressman (There are even fancy ways that you can text them a shortlink that will provide them with some talking points and then connect them with their specific representative. There’s an average 4.44% action rate when you ask people via text to call their representatives, likely higher since they’re already using their phones!)
  • Sign a petition (even the lowest response rates are usually around 11%)
  • Get more information about the programs or tools your nonprofit provide.
  • Reminders of upcoming events (mobile users who received a text reminder were 25% more likely to show up to the event)

The one key to texting seems to be texting your users somewhat frequently – at least once every three weeks. If you wait longer between texts, the user will forget what organization was texting them and be much more likely to unsubscribe.

Tips for growing your mobile list to get started:

  • Add a mobile field to your current website forms, asking them to opt-in to text messages
  • Utilize your social media – share a graphic or image with a mobile/text call to action, or ask a celebrity to tweet out your call to action, something like “Text ‘Oil Spill’ to 82626 for the latest updates”
  • Add a mobile/text call to action in your PSAs
  • Ask current mobile users to invite their friends to join (whereby they send you their friends numbers, their friends get an invitation via text, and if their friend replies yes they’re officially opted in.) This may sound somewhat strange, but the presenters reported about 8% response rates with friend’s numbers, and about 20% of those friends usually join.
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