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The Backstory
Charity Dynamics recently conducted a survey to learn if and how nonprofits are utilizing mobile applications for smartphones and/or tablets. If they were using mobile applications, we wanted to know what they were using them for. A variety of different types of nonprofits responded; different sizes, an assortment of verticals, and locations throughout the United States answered our 16 questions survey.

We found that 74% of our respondents do not have an app for their organization, but 63% have considered acquiring an app. These numbers show an emerging trend and increasing commitment for nonprofit organizations to engage with their supporters through the use of technology.

The number one purpose for an app with organizations that already have a smartphone and/or tablet app is general engagement with their constituents. Other reasons for having an app included: event listing, organization information and updates, fundraising, and having a member directory.

We also discovered that 82% of organizations surveyed do have a year-round donor engagement strategy and 90% have a social media strategy. This validates that nonprofits desire to engage with their supports on a regular basis through channels that are increasing in popularity as Generation Y becomes a large portion of the donor base. Nonprofits are implementing social media strategies to engage with their donors through that particular channel, but mobile engagement is lagging behind with only 26% of organizations having a mobile application.

Another interesting finding from the Nonprofit Mobile Technology Survey is that 41% of respondents stated that they never pay for social media promotion, however a variety other studies show that both nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies are concerned with the decrease of organic reach of their social media posts. 27% reported that they sometimes pay for social media promotion, 18% rarely pay for it and only 14% pay for social media promotion often. Many organizations also reported that they would like to increase their social media posting to more than 6 times a day.

The number one response when asked “what do you believe is your organization’s top social media problem?” was driving engagement (29%), followed by content creation (19%), and finally a three-way tie with 14% each between audience size/growth, measuring impact, and reaching the ‘right’ audience. Moderating each social media platform was the least common response at only 10%.

Our Recommendations
Ensure that you have a well-rounded donor engagement strategy. While many nonprofits have embraced social media into their donor engagement strategy, mobile application adoption is trailing behind. Integrating a mobile app as a new tool for your donor engagement strategy can create a new way to reach your donors where they’re actually spending their time; on their mobile devices. Did you know that by 2015, mobile is predicted to be bigger than the internet? (Morgan Stanley, 2010)

Our recent Nonprofit Mobile Technology Survey shows that nonprofits are considering mobile apps for their organization, but are not yet committing. This could certainly change as nonprofit organizations continue to increase their commitment to integrating technology as a key part of their donor engagement strategies, however.

Study respondents were mainly in a marketing role at their nonprofit organization (67%), followed by fundraising (29%) and event planning (4%). The size of the organization varied greatly, from 13% of respondents from organizations of more than $50 million, followed by 26% from nonprofits with revenue between $20.1 and $50 million, 13% reporting between $10.1 and $20 million in revenue, 9% of respondents reporting were from organizations with $5 to 10 million in revenue and 39% from organizations with revenue of $5 million or less. Respondents came from a variety of verticals including but not limited to: health and human services, environment and wildlife, public affairs and more.