Nonprofit Mobile Strategy in 8 Easy Steps

March 27, 2015Alec Green

At every marketing conference I’ve attended in each of the past 10 years, there’s always the same bold prediction:  This is the year of mobile!

According to a recent report from Comscore, the number of mobile users surpassed desktop users in 2014.  Perhaps we have finally reached the mobile tipping point.  If 2015 is, in fact, “the year of mobile,” what marketing strategies should a nonprofit adopt to engage their mobile audience?     

Julia Campbell from Julia Campbell Social Marketing recently hosted a webinar as part of our webinar series entitled How to Implement a Mobile Strategy for Your Nonprofit.  In the session, Campbell details 8 ways in which any nonprofit can get started with a mobile strategy:

  1. Create content designed for mobile. Mobile content needs to be unique, eye-catching, visual, and easily digestible.  Is your content concise and stimulating enough to grab your listener's attention when they are waiting in line or watching television?  If not, it will likely be ignored on a mobile device.
  2. Overhaul your long, graphic-intensive newsletter. According to a study by Litmus, 43% of emails are opened on a mobile device.  Your mobile readers will respond to short descriptions and a very clear call-to-action rather than paragraph-intensive descriptions and multiple requests.  There are a number of email marketing services to help, but Campbell points out that ConstantContact has some great email marketing resources for nonprofits.  
  3. Build your website using responsive design. Your website is your most important marketing asset.  Responsive websites are more expensive, but will enable your website to render as effectively as possible on different screen sizes.
  4. Think like a journalist. Catching your reader’s attention is an even greater challenge on mobile and most readers will only skim your blog headlines and email subject lines.  Most mobile email users only see the first 38 characters of a subject line, so keep it short and make it relevant.  
  5. Use white space strategically. Less is always more on a mobile device and images will always be easier to absorb than long blocks of text. Allow plenty of white space between your body and calls to action and prioritize short paragraphs and bulleted lists to make your content easier to read.
  6. Incorporate visuals. Have at least 1 or 2 photos in every piece of content.  And make each of your visuals clickable links back to your landing page, YouTube channel, or website.
  7. Make your Call to Action (CTA) crystal clear and compelling. In every piece of content, ask your supporters to do only one thing.  Figure out the one action that is most important and save the others for your next email or blog.  
  8. Don't build a mobile app. If your supporters aren't going to use your app on a daily basis, they won't bother downloading it.  Most mobile users download apps for gaming, social networking, or content consumption.  Ask yourself what you could accomplish with an app that you couldn’t accomplish with a well-executed mobile strategy.

Mobile is becoming an increasingly important part of any online marketing strategy.  And the number one rule of online marketing -- "Always Be Testing" – applies to your mobile strategy as well.  Test all your mobile content on multiple screen types including email, video, social media, and (of course) your website.  One of the best tools I've found for testing the appearance of any URL across devices is the Screenfly.  This free resource allows you to do responsive screen testing on various-sized monitors, tablets, and smartphones.

Campbell’s overarching point is that, for any nonprofit, mobile strategy involves much more than building a website that looks beautiful on a smartphone and tablet.  Mobile strategy requires marketers to use mobile-friendly design, and messaging in every communication and fundraising channel.   Developing messages and calls-to-action for a mobile audience will enable your supporters to engage with your content and seamlessly take whatever actions are most important to your organization.  

Watch the full webinar on And be sure to visit Julia Campbell Social Marketing for some great free nonprofit marketing resources.



Image courtesy of StockImages at

About Alec Green

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners... more


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