Apple Pay, Twitter Buy, Facebook e-commerce, and your nonprofit

Did your mood change between the first six words of this headline, and the last two? Did your technological curiosity shift to something short of terror when the headline suggested that these technologies might have an impact on something bigger than how you buy a Big Mac or a sweater?

Good. You get it.

I think I’m a cool mobile/social consumer every time I order a coffee at Starbucks and pay for it with my mobile app, linked to my PayPal account. However, mobile and social e-commerce is advancing quickly, and your nonprofit needs to get on board. Consider these recent developments:

Apple Pay, the mobile payment technology that allows you to pay for things with credit cards tied to your iPhone, is launching in McDonald’s and Whole Foods. But… according to the same article, “you’ll be able to pay for your Uber, buy baseball tickets with MLB.com and order food from Seamless with one click.” Which means there’s no reason iPhone users can’t also just as easily donate to your organization, or buy tickets to your event. No reason, except, you’re not ready for it.

Twitter just announced a “Buy Now” feature that will appear in certain tweets, allowing subscribers to purchase a product (or make a gift) through a Twitter app, also using existing credit cards. Pretty soon you’ll be able to get donations through tweets as easily as @Megadeth sells concert tickets and tee-shirts. Once you figure out how, when, and for how much, to ask.

And, Facebook has begun adding “buy” buttons into the ads it places into users’ newsfeeds. This allows users to directly purchase items and services offered for sale. Since 62% of Facebooks’ revenue is now coming from mobile users, the combination of mobile and social with e-commerce is staggering. An article in Institutional Investor’s blog says, “Simply put, Facebook newsfeed ads deposit users directly into the mouths of the sales funnels of mobile-first companies.”

And, if the above isn’t scary enough, this just in from @NonProfitTimes :
“United Way Worldwide (UWW) is joining the digital currency world, announcing that it would begin accepting bitcoin donations. It is the latest 501(c)(3) to adopt the digital currency.”  Let’s just leave this one off the table for now. It even scares me.

I’m not suggesting that you abandon efforts to improve your next direct mail letter. That’s going to bring in more net money this fiscal year than any of the above. But you have to carve out some time to start playing in these mobile/social sandboxes, and get comfortable, because there’s a lot of opportunity there, especially among influential early adopters.

What is your nonprofit doing in mobile/social and ecommerce?

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Facebook’s donation app: a good start

This week, Facebook announced that it had released an app that allows nonprofit organizations to promote and collect online donations on a nonprofit’s Facebook page and within its posts. Let’s explore this a bit.

19 nonprofits are currently in the pilot program (list). Applications are being accepted from other nonprofits (Please report on your experience.)

I donated to Girls, Inc. using a MasterCard, and to Blue Star Families  using PayPal. Both were very easy to do. Facebook had a card listed for me (probably from a birthday gift I made for someone awhile ago).

Facebooks announcement says: “They [the donors] also have the option to share the nonprofit’s post with their friends.” I didn’t see that option with either of the gifts I made.

I see sharing as a big boost to this process. In a recent test we ran for a client, we provided the share option on their donation form, and received an additional 4% of gifts directly trackable to the link in the share button.

So I don’t know whether I did something wrong, or whether both nonprofits configured the share option incorrectly, or whether it just doesn’t work yet.

Facebook also says “The Donate feature will appear beside Posts in News Feed” but I haven’t see that yet, either. Hopefully that’s something nonprofits can turn on and off; a donate link doesn’t belong in every post.

Donation through Facebook isn’t new. Some donation tools, like Convio, have been offering an app that’s almost as low-friction as the new Facebook app. It has led to some gifts, but very few nonprofits are bringing in measurable money through Facebook.

Some things that will improve the donations?

1. Facebook Adpage Grants: Like Google Grants, Facebook should give nonprofits a budget of free ads, so they can draw new people to their Facebook pages. Beth Kantor and others have launched a campaign which I gladly support. #FacebookAdGrants

FacebookAdGrants

2. Tie it in to Facebook’s Birthday announcements. It might work like this: A week or so before my birthday, Facebook can invite me to choose one or more nonprofit organizations whose pages I already like as the preferred charity(ies) for my Facebook birthday celebration. When friends click on my name to wish me a happy birthday, they’ll be given the option to make a gift to my selected nonprofit, not just give me a Starbucks card.

3. This might be a good boost for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns that are promoted through Facebook. Giving is a much more social thing in a peer-to-peer campaign, and that’s where the money is online.

Right now there’s one big drawback: the data is kept by Facebook, so these two organizations will get my gift (the whole gift — Facebook is covering the processing costs) but they won’t be able to contact me again.

Like everything Facebook, this process will change. Soon. Often. And, often, for the better. We’re all beta testers here.

What’s your experience, either as a participating nonprofit or as a Facebook donor?