The concept of ‘leapfrogging’ has been around for a while now – mostly in the context of governments and infrastructure. According to Leapfrog Digital Strategies leapfrogging is, “the notion that areas which have poorly-developed technology or economic bases can move themselves forward rapidly through the adoption of modern systems without going through intermediary steps.” A textbook example of this phenomenon has been cited by consulting firm McKinsey & Company where they describe how India connected rural areas by forgoing landline phone systems altogether and leapfrogging directly to mobile phone systems instead.

In the nonprofit space, a similar phenomenon occurs when a new organization introduces itself online for the first time by launching with a fully responsive web property, without ever having a desktop or mobile only site first. A notable example of this occurred when Charity Water first introduced itself online and immediately set the standard in user experience for nonprofit websites. Check it out here >>

Platforms themselves are making this idea easier to accomplish. Many fundraising platforms offer responsive functionality as the default standard, meaning that nonprofits of all sizes are finding a fully responsive website more feasible.

However, some larger organizations with long standing fundraising programs are allowing their web properties to be left behind. With significant digital investments in their online infrastructure already behind them, these organizations are struggling to find the will and funds to make the investment required to provide better user experiences online, especially for mobile devices. Because the platforms they built on existed before responsive was a term applied to the web, the capabilities were simply not there when these websites were built. And while those platforms are improving their capabilities, organizations are not renewing their investments in their sites to take advantage of the new functionality.

The result in some cases is shocking – large, established organizations with significant fundraising receipts are offering a poorer online experience than smaller upstarts who are raising a fraction of the revenue.

For organizations finding themselves on the negative side of this scenario, there are ways to respond. First, plan ahead for the investment and incorporate into your annual budget. The types of changes needed are not small, quick or cheap – but they are necessary. A fully responsive site that supports users no matter what device they visit your organization on is a must have, and it requires the time and budget to do it right.

In the shorter term, there are ways to make targeted improvements to your site and its functionality. Consider updating only your most heavily visited webpages. Look at crucial user flows such as the donation sequence or event registration and fundraising tools as areas to target. Consider what changes can make the greatest impact to your users and ultimately keep your organization competitive with your online audience.