Innogive Conference Panel Resources: Mobile is the Needle, Social is the Thread | Beth's Blog

Innogive Conference Panel Resources: Mobile is the Needle, Social is the Thread

Digital Strategy

Mobile is the Needle, Social the Thread” is the name of  a presentation from Pew Internet data that illustrates the rapid growth of mobile connectivity and social networking in the U.S., focusing on how information consumption patterns are changing in light of these two technological developments.  But it is also theme of a panel that I’m moderating at the Innogive Conference on Monday, April 2 that will focus on how this trend is and will continue to impact nonprofits’ communication strategies.

The panel description:

At the Cross Section of Web, Social and Mobile

Disparate marketing channels complicates the life of the average NPO today. How can a non-profit today use mobile technology, social and web in a way that increases participation, ensures success and provides easier management campaign and their resulting data points. Learn about the tools available that bring mobile, web and social together.

The panelists include:

Amy Sample Ward – Amy is an author and speaker focused on the way social technologies can be used to support social impact by nonprofit organizations and community groups around the world. She is also the Membership Director at NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network.

Amy Gahran:
Amy is an independent journalist and general media geek currently focusing on mobile technology. her work appears on and, and the’s the author of a forthcoming white paper from the ZeroDivide Foundation about opportunities to use mobile to help serve and empower people in poor/marginalized US communities. Her blog is Twitter: @agahran

Arlene McCrehan: Arlene directs the digital communications team at Goodwill Industries International which includes their integrated mobile strategy.  She is the co-inventor of Goodwill’s patent pending online donation impact calculator.

Larry Eason: Larry is a web and mobile strategist to causes. He works with organizational leaders to expand their sense of what is possible online and to innovate and succeed. Larry specializes in working with clients to increase their reach, access and influence through strategic, intentional networking. Larry has been working with nonprofits for 28 years.

We will be discussing these questions:

  • What are some successful examples of nonprofits incorporating a mobile/social integrated strategy?
  • What does a nonprofit need to do to be “mobile ready.”?
  • What are the best practices?
  • What is the most exciting mobile/social technologies that are on the horizon and hold much promise for nonprofits?

Here’s the links that the panelists will discuss:

Toy Safety Mobi

USPIRG  is a 26 year annual report on toy safety. Each year the report is released at 30+ news conferences with significant print/TV/online coverage. The goal of the report is to educate parents and pressure the Consumer Product Safety Commission and elected officials. In 2010 they added a mobile friendly site which A) provided parents a tool for accessing the information when it was needed most – in the stores B) expanded the quantity and quality of coverage traditional and online and C) helped position the organization internally and externally as innovating with technology.  It was relatively easy to add mobile to significantly enhance an existing program.

Ace:  Do One Thing

This campaign is from the Alliance of Climate Education.   The DOT  is a pledge to Do One Thing to help the environment – and cool the climate.  The campaign is an example of an integrated social/mobile campaign that seamlessly integrates the message across different channels for different audiences.  Check it out on your mobile phone.


Goodwill Industries International provides job training and employment services, job placement opportunities and post-employment support, through its network of 179 community-based agencies worldwide. There are over 2,600 Goodwill® stories worldwide that sell gently used and new items, providing an important revenue stream for its programs.  When Goodwill was planning their mobile site, they knew from their web analytics that their most popular feature would be the store locator; more than 7 million visited the Goodwill website in 2011, and more than 6 million of those visited the locator. Arlene McCrehan, Senior Director of Online Media, says, “We knew that website visitors tended to use that feature as they’re walking out the door to drop off a donation. We felt we could offer better service to our patrons if we set up a mobile site for the store locator. ”

Goodwill considered their  first year an experiment. They tracked the patterns of usage of the mobile site against donation volume data by location. Says McCrehan, “We want to fulfill our mission. We saw the potential for mobile and we knew wanted to get in quickly. We knew it wasn’t going to cost too much. We needed to learn the technology and more importantly, how to measure to improve and make decisions about what to do next.”
Another experiment with mobile is also mission-driven. Says McCrehan, “With the recession, there is higher demand at Goodwill’s stores. That’s why we started the Donate Movement. As part of that strategy, we’ve incorporated a mobile component: a Donation Impact Calculator (patent-pending) for people who want to organize drives. It calculates the impact of their donation, from keeping items out of landfills to benefiting their community by supporting Goodwill.”

Goodwill has learned from measuring its mobile strategy. “We’ve seen the use of our mobile site grow dramatically, from dribs and drabs to 1,200 unique visitors per day. We learned that we have to be in this space and be very strategic about the content we deliver,” says McCrehan. The team at Goodwill has learned that measuring mobile is not different from measuring anything else. McCrehan advises, “Start with asking what mobile strategy fits best with your objective and how you can best deliver your program or message.”

Store Locator:
Mobile Site:
Donation Challenge:
Good Prospects:

Other examples:

  • Planned Parenthood: Where did you wear it? Condom use campaign: (check that out on your phone. forms are really easy to fill out on a phone)
  • Text4Baby:- National mobile health campaign, interactive and somewhat customized SMS messages. Focused on maternal health and 1 year of infant’s life-

Some techniques and resources that the panelists shared:

What is responsive web design? Why should you use it?

Lots more resources on responsive web design: –

Some tools mentioned:  Good, inexpensive, easy to use tool for building simple mobile websites.  Good to use for a get-your-feet-wet initial project/campaign
Twilio: Great tool for building interactive text messaging programs.- Developer conf coming up in SF this summer, includes hackathon. Good way to meet good mobile developers.

Mobile Commons: Suite of services geared towards nonprofits, including for mobile fundraising.  Not cheap, but good. May be out of price range of smaller nonprofits, but see if maybe your funders already have access to mobile commons.

Best Practices

  • A mobile-friendly web site or mobile landing pages.
  • Inbound links must work from mobile devices!
  • At least a mobile theme on your site, but responsive design is better. Many feature phones also are web-enabled, so mobile web can broaden your audience.
  • Don’t start with apps, and only build them if you have a REALLY GOOD REASON – for example the Planned Parenthood campaign
  • Infrastructure requirements are database and cms – make sure they work with your mobile platform
  • Need an organizational culture open to failure and trying new things
  • Requires strategy
  • Think about ways to use mobile to engage major donors (e.g. tablet content)
  • Build lists and collect cell phone numbers
  • Think about how you can use mobile for professional networking – CardMunch
  • If leadership isn’t comfortable with mobile, teach them to use their phones
  • Start with small experiments, low risk

The future ….

  • The very near future is mobile content, not apps. what does your email, your website, your donation form look like on a phone? For most it looks pretty terrible.
  • Don’t forget about the devices most people are actually using.  At any given time, including the future, the low end of mobile will always be the biggest part of the market. You can do a lot of cool stuff with whatever the current low end of mobile is.
  • Goodwill’s GoodProspects SMS to bridge digital divide – there is power in SMS


Does your organization have a great example of an integrated mobile campaign?   Let us know in the comments.

4 Responses

  1. Cheryl Lucia says:

    I think you’re on the right track in using mobile connectivity and social networking as the foundation of nonprofits’ communication strategies. Mobile is seeing dual-track growth in terms of how it’s used: for fun and for practical use. The average adult consumer spends approximately 65 minutes per day on their mobile device. The majority of the research currently conducted regarding use of mobile devices indicates Americans are spending their online time communicating and networking across social networks, personal email, instant messaging, blogs, and online gaming. That means approximately 22 minutes of total online time is spent socializing/communicating. What are they doing the remaining 43 minutes? They’re perusing news, sports, and weather mostly, and then searching. Searching for what? Things to buy – and things to promote/trend. Given this, it may be wise to take advantage of mobile marketing opportunities by creating entertaining content delivered through social media touch points (like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) first, then news and sports feeds. Americans want to catch up on what’s trending within their social circle and the media, then they want to talk about it or do something about it. Imagine the returns (in terms of both funding and volunteers) for Toy Safety, Dot and Goodwill if they’re what’s trending.

  2. Steve says:

    I am glad you wrote this post. Getting ahead of the mobile curve is important for nonprofits. Nonprofits were ahead when web 2.0 (social media) took off and it seems to be trending that way with web 3.0 (mobile devises). Yet I still find many nonprofits haven’t joined the social media network. I see it mostly with smaller nonprofits who feel they have nothing to gain or just don’t have the resources/knowledge to make good use of it. But the fact is the world is going mobile and nonprofits, small and large, have to join the trend or risk getting left behind.

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  4. Peter says:

    Very nice article. I have used a servive to create a landing page for our clients