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Nonprofit Mobile App Trends & Uses

The following post is an adaptation of a presentation, How Mobile is Changing Content and What it Means for Businesses and Nonprofits, given by Luminate Marketing at the 2011 Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago.


Marketing bloggers and observers have been predicting and proclaiming “the year of mobile” for years. Let’s step back from predictions and look at what’s happening now in mobile marketing and how we can make the most of it.

The reality is, we’ve seen mobile marketing help our clients immensely and really get them on the map. No small part of this has been the accelerated adoption of smartphone technology. Currently, 37% of US mobile phone users own a smart phone — [that’s] nearly 90 million users. Regardless of if we’ve seen the year of mobile or if it’s still in the future, these numbers present a real opportunity, now.


Mobile technology has certainly made its impact on the marketing industry. For businesses and nonprofits alike, we are seeing:

 1. Localization

Search on mobile is increasingly local; mobile devices allow for a more relevant content experience including check-ins for businesses and location-based searches for nearby services for nonprofits.

2. Immediacy

We now have the ability to provide timely content, that otherwise would be less valuable if you had to wait for user to get back to a desktop. For business – offerings like Groupon Now, deals you can use in the next two hours; for nonprofits informing donors of immediate needs for resources, volunteers, etc.

 3. Shareability

Content served in the mobile environment have an incredible opportunity to be shared with users’ networks. Mobile devices have become a hub for social sharing, and that’s not industry or sector specific.

 4. Media Mobility

We now have the ability to create and view nearly all media from just about anywhere.  See below for a more detailed look at this impact.

 5. Divergent Platforms

With the previous 4 positive impacts comes this challenge. Marketers have to account for variability in users’ devices and feature compatibility. We have to decide which platform and which features are most important to our users and constituents and prioritize development. We can’t provide everyone with everything.


The mobility of media is at the center of all of these. Without content to distribute immediately that’s worthy of sharing, location-aware, and optimized for our chosen platform(s), the entire process would be sunk. Specially let’s look at the overlap between the two sectors Luminate Marketing works in, the nonprofit and for-profit, and what businesses can learn from nonprofits taking advantage of mobile marketing today.

Message Reinforcement and Fresh Content – Nuru International

The video below shows the kind of content you can create with mobile devices and talks about other initiatives Nuru International is incorporating into their business through mobile.

Background: Nuru abolishes extreme poverty in a community within 5 years.  This is a video about how they’re using mobile to further their clean water and programs and training.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. 95% of organizations have a philanthropic arm or corporate giving program. Videos like this one are sent back to the organization in the United States who can use that content along with pictures etc. to provide to their shareholders in the corporate newsletter or other collateral pieces. This helps solidify the program, gain additional funding, and strengthen the partnership between corporation and charity.
  2. Creating opportunities for mobile-generated content throws the doors wide open for steady streams of fresh content. (More important now than ever as Google’s recent algorithm update indicates)

Conversion Tools – Breakthrough Urban Ministries

What is a conversion for you, or for your clients?  What are your goals with mobile marketing?  If you were to enter into capitalizing on mobile technology tomorrow, what would be the success criteria you’d want to establish up-front?  These are the questions you want to answer before you get started; what you want to accomplish and who you’re talking to and [if they] are they using mobile, and how.
Here’s one of our favorite examples:
This is the kind of video you can show a potential donor anywhere, at a meeting at a coffeeshop; they may express interest in something you’re talking about and you can show them immediately on the spot.  Same with sales in corporate.
So with mobile, people have the opportunity not just to generate content from anywhere but to view it from anywhere.  This makes people – who are potential donors, volunteers, and advocates – easier to reach.  It’s said that for nonprofits, 70% of dollars made are spent making more dollars.  Earlier we were talking about conversions; the mobile device now plays an increasing factor in the acquisition and reach to people, taking a cut off of that 70% of dollars needed to raise more dollars, making each conversion less expensive.
These are the types of conversations you’ll need to have to justify an investment in mobile and create forecasted ROI.


One Day’s Wages

One Day's Wage Mobile App

One Day’s Wage on iOS

One Day’s Wages: an organization that communicates 3 billion people live on less than US $2/day; their concept being what can a person’s “one day’s wages” do to help global poverty?  This app provides information about sustainable wages around the globe – calculator function.  You put in your income and it compares it to wages of people around the world.
The Salvation Army
Salvation Army Bell & Mobile Donation App
Salvation Army Bell Ringer on iOS
The Salvation Army has created a fun, interactive app with a bell that you can even change the tone of.  The app also gives users the opportunity to view and share videos and even make a donation online.
International Justice Mission
IJM Mobile Application
IJM Mobile Apps for iOS, Android, and WP7
These guys knocked it out of the park. Ridiculously robust set of mobile apps – across multiple platforms, giving users the opportunity read stories, view videos, find local events and register for events and share it all across their social networks.
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