November 7, 2012

How to make your nonprofit site more mobile-friendly

3 steps to developing a responsive website

John HaydonImagine for a moment that a supporter of yours is having dinner with one of their friends (let’s call her Amanda).

The cause you support comes up in conversation, and because Amanda is passionate about the work your nonprofit does, she pulls out her iPhone to show her friend.

But there’s a problem.

Your website is not looking so hot. Not a good first impression.

Now obviously Amanda will be able to overcome this hurdle because of the trust she’s earned with her friend. But why put hurdles in front of your core supporters to begin with? Continue reading

April 10, 2012

GroupMe: Keep in touch with your team members

At conferences or on the go, use mobile to plan next steps

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations, brands, businesses, Web publishers, educators, journalists, general public.

JD LasicaAt last week’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco, the Socialbrite team debated which app would be most useful for us to locate each other and easily share our plans on which sessions or which parties to attend.

The first decision came with our agreement that a mobile app was the way to go. While we have a secret Facebook group (well, secret until now!), it’s just easier to check a single app on our mobile devices rather than check our crowded Facebook notifications. If you have three or more team members who are attending an event or who need to stay in touch while on the road, you have a few options.

GroupMe: Best of breed for group messaging

Without much debate, we settled on GroupMe, a free group messaging app. I like it because it’s both instant and asyncronous — that is, your teammates will see your updates instantly or when they next check their mobile devices.

Here’s how it works: Call up GroupMe and invite others in your posse to join your private group. Type your update and send it to the group, as you would an SMS message, and they’ll see it in a chat thread. (You also have the option of including a wider circle of colleagues who use GroupMe, but we stuck with the private route.) We used GroupMe as a way to settle on a time and place to meet in person as well as a means of keeping on top of the best sessions activities to attend.

One of GroupMe’s key features is that it’s cross-platform: You don’t miss a beat whether you have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or another kind of smartphone. In addition to the ability to share messages, photos and locations like the other apps, GroupMe also allows old-fashioned conference calls to your group for occasions when voice is easier than tapping out a message.

Among its advanced features, GroupMe figures out if you have a good or bad wifi or data connection and will switch to SMS for messaging if it things get bad – a common occurrence at conferences. We also like GroupMe because of its humble origins: It was created at a hackathon in 2010, though it was sold to Skype last summer in this fast-moving space. Continue reading

June 7, 2011

Does a mobile app make sense for your nonprofit?

Tap-n-Give app helps lay groundwork for other charity apps

Guest post by Tonia Zampieri
Smart Online

Does a mobile app make sense for your nonprofit? It depends.

If your organization has the capacity to support one, a mobile app can be not only a phenomenal branding tool but also an entirely new way to capture engaged supporters who spend a large amount of time on their mobile device. It provides a new channel to share content and, in some cases, even monetize content that previously would have been difficult to do.

Being a passionate nonprofit professional and self-professed mobile techie, I embarked on a journey in spring 2009 to launch a mobile app that would support nonprofits. It was a little crazy, but deep down I knew that mobile was where things were going.

My idea was simple: To create a tool that would deliver more awareness, engagement and financial support to important causes, all from a rapidly growing medium: smartphones! Imagine anyone with one of these devices having the ability to learn about, spread the word, raise funds, volunteer and more, all from their fingertips. How cool.

The outcome became Tap-n-Give (now defunct), an iPhone app available on iTunes during 2010 that supported a handful of nonprofits. The development cycle took nine months and cost $10,000. It was a pilot project with limited success, but the process — from market research to determining what the app would do to project management with the app development company — was quite an experience!

Learn from my mistakes

Here are some of the things I probably would have done differently (and will do differently for my next app!):

  1. Performed more consumer research about how a potential supporter would want to interact with their favorite nonprofit.
  2. Provided optional email address input instead of forcing the user to provide email upon app download.
  3. Explored other avenues to collecting the contact info throughout use of the app.
  4. Provided a free initial download with in-app purchase capabilities within the
    app and user experience.
  5. Created a more interactive use case involving a simple game or other utility that
    would encourage repeated use.
  6. App wasn’t very “sticky” and short on functionality due to a limited budget. Wait
    until more funding is available to make an investment and identify a clear ROI.
  7. Had a clearer marketing strategy about how the nonprofit partners would
    market the app for download – and how it would tie in with their existing
  8. Worked with a professional team who understood more than code but the use
    cases that would make for the most successful nonprofit focused app.

The learnings have been priceless, and I want to share them with you in the video above and in this Charity Mobile App Retrospective whitepaper. It’s time to hop on and get informed – here’s hoping these tools will be a solid start.

Tonia Zampieri is director of marketing at Smart Online, Inc. Connect with Tonia on Twitter or LinkedIn.