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 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?


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


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?

Online Donations: make it easy

A review of several children’s hospital websites shows some clever ideas – and also shows that many have a long way to go to fully embrace digital fundraising.

Below are eight important elements of an online donation process. How well does your children’s hospital measure up to these best practices?

  1. Make your donation page easy to find. Web visitors who come to your site to make a gift need to find the “Donate” button quickly. Readability studies continue to show that site visitors scan a web page, across the top, then down the left side. So, your donation button should be in one (or, better yet, both) of those places.CHFR_home
  2.  One click to the Online Form. When people click “Donate Now” they want to donate now. Not in three or four more clicks. Don’t link a “Donate Now” to a page about the development department, or one that lists various ways people can give via gifts of stock, etc. Bring them to the form. 
  3. Make the form easy to fill out. First, determine how much they want to give, and give them options (but not too many) about monthly giving, tribute giving, or gifts to a particular fund. Then ask who they are, and finally, get the payment information. Ask as few questions as you can get away with. Make the form easy to fill out.
  4. Make it idiot-proof.  • Don’t make donors type in their email address twice, to verify it. • Don’t make donors choose a particular fund to direct their giving. Most tribute donors, and many grateful family members, have no idea what all your funds are for. • Don’t use shopping cart technology. It’s clumsy. It frustrates donors. By now, they’re used to real online donation processing
  5. Give them a choice to make their gift a monthly one. An amazingly large number of donors (in our experience, up to 20% for some charities) chose to start a monthly commitment with their first online gift. Yet, 60% of the children’s hospitals we surveyed do not offer this option.
  6. Accept PayPal. There are 132 million PayPal accounts, and they all exist for only one reason: so people can spend money online. I don’t always have my credit card information handy, but I can always give by PayPal.
  7. Send a good “thank-you” email right away… then another one after that. ACHF-TKUBy the way my definition of a “thank-you” email includes the words “Thank you” in the subject line, and in the opening line of the message. “Gift Acknowledgement” or “Your gift has been processed” is NOT the same.
  8. Make the “thank-you” page and email a continuation of the conversation, not the end. Most “thank-you” pages and emails offer no further opportunity for engagement. It’s the best place on the internet to get someone who’s just done exactly what you want, to share the news, or learn more about your research, or your caregivers. Offer links to your latest video. Invite them to share with their Facebook friends that they just made a gift.

For a full copy of the report, email me. If you’d like your children’s hospital to be a part of our study moving forward, just ask. There’s no fee. In fact, you actually will receive at least one gift!