4 Ways Small Nonprofits Can Use Mobile to Slay a Giant

Photo Via Chris Isherwood on Flickr
Photo Via Chris Isherwood on Flickr

Smartphones are good for brick-and-mortar businesses. This surprised everyone, including me, because as mobile grew businesses trembled at the prospect of smartphone carrying customers showrooming their stores for better selection and prices online.

But just the opposite happened. Mobile is helping to bring customers closer to physical businesses.

If this is true for physical businesses, what about for brick-and-mortar nonprofits? Can mobile bring supporters closer to local nonprofits and help them beat the larger, out-of-state nonprofits that have muscled their way into communities with brand and money? I think it can. The key is your proximity to people. It matters. Plan your mobile strategy accordingly.

Focus on Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have a natural connection with mobile devices. For example, three-quarters of Facebook users access the site via mobile. The key is to spread your social media efforts across multiple networks. As Jay Baer, marketing guru and author of the best seller Youtility explains: “Even though you can’t rely on any one particular message in any specific channel to reach your audience. You maximize the likelihood that SOME message in SOME channel will reach each audience member.”

I call it surround-sounding your supporters. Take a can’t miss approach to communicating with them, and, of course, tell the local story that only you can tell.

Don’t stop with social media updates to current followers. You also want to reach new supporters. Try Facebook ads and promoted tweets. A great resource on Facebook for nonprofits is John Haydon and his book Facebook Marketing for Dummies.

Embrace Mobile Search

Every day more and more people are searching the web on their phones instead of their desktops. The difference is that searches on mobile devices tend to be highly localized and users are focused on the very top results. For instance, if you clean out use your closet and then use your phone to search for a place to donate the unwanted clothes, you’ll focus on the first three or four listings. A local clothing bank should focus their efforts here.

Business 2 Community has a helpful article on how organizations can dominate local search.

Use Responsive Design

Responsive design is just a fancy term for being able to clearly view web content on any device. When you don’t use responsive design you’re just turning away potential supporters.

Woody Allen said that 80 percent of life is just showing up. Bigger, national organizations aren’t better than local ones. But they are better at showing up—being there when people are looking for them. Using responsive design means you’ll show up every time!

An easy way for nonprofits to adopt responsive design is to focus on social networks, which are naturally optimized for mobile devices.

Adopt Two Strategies

One for smartphones, one for tablets. Smartphones are the ever-present, utilitarian tool that people use to get things done on the go. Tablets are portable entertainment centers that amuse and educate. If I was opening a museum near Boston’s Freedom Trail I would take steps to ensure I appear at the top of mobile search results on tourists’ smartphones.

Conversely, I would also get busy generating plenty of content on social networks, a blog and YouTube channel for people to consume on their tablets.

What do you think of the impact of mobile on local nonprofits? Does proximity matter? Does mobile give them an edge, or do large nonprofits still have the upper hand?

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