ArtsKC on the Impact of Mobile Fundraising

ArtsKC LogoKate Forristall, ArtsKC Fund Director for the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, recently spoke with Social: IRL about the impact of mobile fundraising.

This year for the annual ArtsKC fundraising drive, mobile fundraising technology developed by Kansas City startup RAZ Mobile was implemented for the first time.  (Disclosure: RAZ Mobile is a Social: IRL sponsor)

ArtsKC saw particular success with the technology being used to promote giving among employees of Johnson County, Kansas.

As a county government, Johnson County employees were located across multiple sites and working different shifts.  Use of the RAZ platform, which incorporates ease of donor use and integrates offline calls to action such as a QR code-based “scan to donate,” allowed a united effort among employees without the need for them to physically be in the same place or engaged at the same time.

With a number of employees retiring in the last year who had been key ArtsKC supporters, the expectation had been that year-on-year employee donations would likely be lower.  In the event, donations actually came in at around 10% higher over the prior year.

Forristall was confident that the convenience of mobile giving had played a key role in that success, and described RAZ Mobile as “easily the best model of mobile giving” she had seen, both in terms of cost and exposure through synced online-offline promotion.

Is It Time for Responsive Email Marketing Design?

Guest post by Tiffany Edwards, Account Manager at emfluence, a full service interactive marketing company based in Kansas City.

Computers, tablets, mobile devices and oh-so-many more! How can we ever make websites and emails look great and function well on so many devices? Many marketers are turning to something called responsive design. With responsive design, the email or webpage will automatically resize images, text and tables based on a user’s screen or browser width.

Grantham University

Grantham University’s email resizes text and drops the right column when a subscriber views on a mobile device.

Responsive design detects a user’s screen size using a CSS media query to determine the width of the screen being used. Then, the website or email code applies specific style rules (CSS) to fit the design elements to the screen size. Of course, it’s much simpler on websites since there are only a handful of different browser types compared to more than 30 different email clients.

If you’ve talked about or used CSS in email design in the past, you may be wondering: Can responsive design work with email marketing since it uses CSS styling? Unfortunately, it’s not a simple yes or no… And it’s likely to take your email team a bit of time to figure it out. The big question: Is it worth the investment?

Is it Time for Responsive Email Marketing Design?  READ MORE


Text-to-Give: Is There a Better Option for Mobile Fundraising?

Dale KnoopGuest post by Dale Knoop, CEO of Social: IRL sponsor RAZ Mobile, a Kansas City-based startup that helps non-profit causes, campaigns, and candidates better engage a new generation of supporters via the power of mobile and social media. The post is published in response to attendee questions submitted during the course of Social: IRL’s ongoing nonprofits workshop series.

We’ve seen the terrible pictures and videos on TV and the Internet when a natural disaster strikes. It’s at times like this that millions of caring individuals respond to the call to action to donate to the victims of these tragedies via their mobile phones. They text a keyword such as “Sandy” or “Haiti” to a short code such as 90909. A $5 or $10 donation is then billed to them via their mobile carrier bill. This so-called text-to-give tool is a great vehicle for fundraising but it has many limitations that make it a less-than-favorable option or, in a majority of cases, completely off-limits.

Let’s run through a few of the biggest limitations of text-to-give as a mobile donor engagement and fundraising solution.

Not open to everyone:

Text-to-give is not open for nonprofits that have less than $500,000 in annual revenues, because the carriers have set this as their rule for who can use text-to-give. Most charities operate on far less than $500,000 per year.

Donations are limited in dollar amount:

The carriers cap donations at a low amount in case their subscribers don’t pay their bill, since this is how the money gets collected from a text-to-give donor. I understand their economics but if I want to give more through my mobile phone I should be allowed to. In effect, the wireless carriers are setting limits on a transaction between a caring donor and those in need.

No donor information is shared:

Other than the donor’s mobile number, nonprofits that use text-to-give don’t get any information about the donor, such as name, street address and email address. Text-to-give doesn’t help nonprofits build and grow a base of supporters. Instead, it treats donors like ATMs, which is precisely the reason many donors stop giving.

All nonprofits should seek to become the favorite cause of their supporters. Studies have shown the path to becoming a favorite involves educating them and sharing information with them on your work rather than simply asking for money all the time.

This is impossible if you don’t know who gave to you using text-to-give.

High cost:

Text-to-give can be very expensive for those nonprofits that meet the carrier rules for who can use it. Keywords like “Sandy” or “Haiti” can cost a few hundred dollars each month. The carrier and the aggregators can take a sizable chunk of the donation and you may face per message fees as well.

In disaster situations where text-to-give is used, the carriers have agreed that they won’t charge their normal per donation fee. But if you’re not a disaster and simply trying to keep a food pantry stocked, the carrier and the aggregator will take their normal cut.

A long wait for your money:

Since text-to-give relies on people paying their wireless bill, it can take 90-120 days for you to see the money donated to you through text-to-give.

There are also stories from nonprofits that have used text-to-give that suggest actual fulfillment rates can be in the single digits. For example, if 100 people donate to you with text-to-give you may see less than 10 donations actually be delivered to you.

In many instances, when people see the name of a charge on their bill that isn’t the name of the cause they donated to, they ask the carrier to remove that charge.

No fast set-up:

Depending on how you proceed with text-to-give it can take months to get going. There are other solutions that can have you up and engaging and fundraising in a day.

In summary:

There are superior solutions for mobile donor interaction and fundraising that don’t have the many impactful limitations of text-to-give.

According to a January 2012 Pew Internet report, completing an online credit card form is virtually the same in appeal as text-to-give. Donors will make donations by entering their credit card information into their mobile phones.

As with any solution the pros and cons must be weighed. In the case of text-to-give my suggestion is to ensure your nonprofit focuses on creating a great mobile experience and let donors give as much as they want without the wireless carriers in the middle. Your supporters will reward you with higher engagement and that in turn leads to higher fundraising potential.

Is Your “Give” Mobile?

Guest post by Dale Knoop, CEO of RAZ Mobile, a Kansas City-based startup that helps non-profit causes, campaigns, and candidates better engage a new generation of supporters via the power of mobile and social media.


At any time of the year, this simple four-letter verb carries a lot of weight.  At year’s end, it becomes a mission-critical request for nonprofit organizations that combine it with “please” to create an opportunity for holiday generosity and last-minute charitable deductions.

Americans do a lot of giving. It’s 2 percent of GDP. Giving by individuals is the third largest industry in the nation, behind Uncle Sam and banking. And amazingly, today 75 percent of that individual giving is transmitted using the U.S. Postal Service.

Unfortunately, postal rates continue to rise and subsidies for nonprofit use of the USPS will likely be amended or could be eliminated entirely. Realizing the diminishing returns for “snail mail,” non-profits are being challenged to find alternatives to direct mail for soliciting and collecting donations.

“Give” is finding more and more power on the Internet, and fundraisers and donors alike are thrilled with what they see. But as we look back at 2012, there’s something missing to the “give” Internet presence:  mobile giving via smartphones.

Sometime soon, when no one is looking, the number of smartphone Internet sessions will surpass the PC and never look back.

Giving a look ahead to 2013, you can see what’s driving this trend. More than half of all Americans have smartphones, and those numbers are growing exponentially. People of all ages (and especially millennials) live on their smartphones, and if your “give” isn’t there, then it’s got no power.

Mobile giving is capable of so much more than simply the cell phone carrier’s text-to-give product. Today’s web-based technology for mobile giving offers massive scale and provides nonprofits with vastly superior means for anywhere, anytime donor engagement and brand building. At the same time, today’s platforms provide immediate access to funds instead of waiting on the carrier for 90 days or longer with text-to-give.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, today’s web-based mobile-giving platforms offer nonprofits the opportunity to dramatically lower fundraising costs while also raising the lifetime value of the donor by making easy to give when the impulse strikes.

“Give” wants and needs a new home on smartphones. Will 2013 be the year you go mobile and put your “give” where your donors live?

Startup Profile: RAZ Mobile – Helping Non-Profits Better Engage a New Generation of Supporters

RAZ Mobile is setting out to help non-profit organizations better engage with their supporters via the power of mobile and social media.

Their recently launched mobile marketing platform enables any non-profit organization to create a full-featured, customized mobile website in a matter of minutes. The sites integrate seamlessly with social media channels and incorporate secure donation processing.

As supporters move to the mobile web and engage in social media channels, it’s important for non-profits to evolve along with them and pro-actively engage their supporters where they are most active.

Social: IRL recently spoke with RAZ Mobile founders Dale Knoop and Brad Kropf to learn more about their Kansas City-based startup and how non-profits might benefit from using their platform.

You can learn more about RAZ Mobile by visiting their website, or connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook.

Update: Since this post was originally published, we have been pleased to welcome RAZ Mobile as a new Social: IRL sponsor.

Could you please share a little about your background – who founded the company and why?

RAZ Mobile was founded by Dale Knoop and Brad Kropf and they each have a deep background in mobile data services. Among them both are dozens of patents and the idea for RAZ Mobile stemmed from their desire to help non-profit organizations deal with the coming donor cliff. Most donations currently come from direct mail and most of these donors are of an older demographic profile. Our goal is to drive innovation into the non-profit space, help them reach new donors, and ultimately benefit those in need.


What is the key non-profit challenge you’re setting out to solve, and what type of feedback have you see as you’ve started introducing RAZ to regional non-profits?

We talked about the coming donor cliff. Nothing beats having a mobile presence when it comes to donor engagement and fundraising.

The great thing we’ve seen in the first month we’ve been in the market is the phenomenal response from causes. They’ve seen their own mobile sites on their phones and, from their own experiences with the sites, quickly understand the need to add more mobile-friendly channels for communication and fundraising.

We’ve got some very traditional non-profits coming on board and we were amazed at the speed at which they started talking about tactics for using RAZ Mobile in what they do today.


Besides creating a mobile optimized experience, what other benefits does the platform offer non-profits?

In addition to having a mobile optimized experience to share with supporters, non-profits can also process supporters’ donations in a matter of seconds. RAZ Mobile is priced so that causes can afford to experiment with a low cost solution and refine their tactics and strategies. Creating an app is both expensive to build and to maintain. Carrier-billed solutions can cost up to 50% of the donation made and the cause doesn’t know who the donors are. RAZ Mobile was designed to solve all these challenges and make giving easy, secure and quick for donors since they don’t want to pinch and swipe your PC site on their phone. Research says they’ll give up. In the time it takes to even find the Donate button on their PC site, with RAZ Mobile your donation could have been made and a receipt already sent to your inbox.


Could you share a little about the technology involved?

RAZ Mobile is a cloud-based solution which uses the browser to render the cause’s mobile site. Under the hood are several hundred thousand lines of code and links to social media like Facebook and Twitter and a growing suite of reporting tools.

We chose RAZ Mobile to be a browser-based solution in order to achieve the largest scale for our clients. We also use industry standard credit card processing technology in order to ensure the maximum speed of donations going to our customers and a high-level of security for the donors.


There are, of course, other mobile solutions being offered. Could you tell us what sets you apart? What unique user-benefits is RAZ Mobile able to bring to the table?

RAZ Mobile makes donations super easy and fast for donors making repeat donations. At the end of making your first donation a donor can create a secure PIN to store their credentials for future donations, making all future donations to any cause using RAZ Mobile just a few taps on their smartphone.

The other two aspects that set us apart are a commitment to service to our clients and making sure that our product for both causes and supporters is simple and yet incredibly powerful.

We actually have a client who evaluated several other solutions that are out there now and they chose RAZ Mobile. We are really honored to be selected and we think others will see the same thing.


It’s been just a month since RAZ Mobile launched. Could you give us a quick review of initial progress and where things go from here?

One month since launch we’ve got a handful of clients using RAZ Mobile and many more coming. Each of them has significant efforts in other channels like print and digital and they easily see the need to use RAZ Mobile to add the mobile channel to what they’re already doing today.

We’ll have some great stories to share soon and the cool part about what RAZ Mobile offers is an easy way for any cause to educate their supporters on an ongoing basis, anywhere, anytime and when donors give there’s someone in need who will benefit. That’s a great thing to support and we are very excited about the future for causes who are really worried about the age of their donors and the coming problems with our postal service.

We also have some amazing technical enhancements coming that are going to further advance our reputation as the leading innovator in the mobile engagement and fundraising space. We’ll be announcing them as they happen. Some will involve some great partners so we’re pretty excited about what’s to come. We have a full pipeline which includes some patent pending features.

Go KC – The Future of Mobile Payments

Earlier this week, we attended a special discussion on the future of mobile payments, presented by KCnext – The Technology Council of Greater Kansas City. Participants included:

The event was live streamed by Silicon Prairie News. Their recording of the live stream is embedded below, and we would recommend you take time to view the discussion. You can also read SPN’s recap of the event for key takeaways from each speaker.

For additional insights and audience perspectives, read our Storify recap made up entirely of attendee tweets and photos.