Just like everything else in this futuristic world, the fundraising industry becomes more high-tech every day. From online donation portals to text-to-give platforms, nonprofit organizations — big and small — are using mobile fundraising technology to raise more for their efforts.
To help your organization get involved with this trend, we are offering some best practices on how to get the most out of mobile bidding technology at your next event.
1. Have a Thermometer/Leaderboard
No matter what type of mobile fundraising you are using, you can use a virtual thermometer or leaderboard to show donors your progress to goal and encourage them to help you reach it.
Catholic organizations, like parishes, are different from other types of organizations because the donors are the beneficiaries of the donations! How well your fundraising campaign performs affects their future. For example, new kneeler cushions could greatly benefit the knees of frequent church-goers! This means that giving them a way to see how you are doing not only gets them excited about your efforts but also encourages them to help you move toward specific results.
Fun tip: Show specific end games for targets. For example, use your thermometer to monitor different goals: $500 means a new bench, $1,000 will provide a new youth room, and $100,000 can provide a new building, etc. This way, your congregation can see how close you are to raising enough for the particular aspects they care the most about.
2. Customize Buttons
In a similar manner to the above tip, make sure you customize your donation options, as being specific in your messaging typically works best.
Here are some examples:
- Help Father Patrick Attend the Spring Mission
- Support the New Member Education Ministry
- Donate to the New Parish Fund
By letting your members donate to specific functions, you can drive more interest rather than simply asking for donations without context.
3. Educate Your Guests/Bidders
Don’t expect your guests to intuitively understand the technology you are using. Even when it is easy to use, the idea of new technologies can sometimes be scary.
If you are just starting out in the mobile fundraising world, make sure your communication plan includes telling your guests about what you are using, how it will benefit them, and how it works. Also, ensure you have volunteers or support from the technology you are using on hand to help walk your guests through the entire process.
This is especially important for Catholic nonprofits because your guest list most likely stays fairly consistent over time. Event after event, you have the same users, so you want to make sure you don’t ostracize them by not keeping them in the loop.
4. Send Out Mobile Reminders
Along with educating guests before hand, use pre-planned reminders to ask for donations or tell attendees (both at the event and remote) about great deals on auction items. Having a communication plan before your event will help ensure people get the most out of your fundraising technology — whether or not they have used it before.
5. Allow Anonymous Giving/Bidding
Sometimes adding a little competition is good. However, because your donors are part of a church group, they are often friends and family. It may be hard for someone to bid against a friend when they know that friend really wants a specific auction item. Similarly, there is likely a strong belief among many of your guests that good deeds should be done in secret — and this may include giving.
Offering the ability to donate and bid anonymously will help with both of these considerations. If they don’t know who else is bidding on an item, they won’t feel guilty about outbidding, and they can feel good about themselves by donating in secret.
6. Encourage Max Bidding
If you have a mobile auction as part of your fundraising technology package, encourage auto bids. Auto bidding allows guests to set their maximum bid for an item and gives the system permission to bid for them, up to that amount.
This makes the whole experience better for you and your guest. But how so?
Pros for your bidders:
- They don’t have to keep going back to bid for the same item every time they are outbid.
- They make sure they don’t lose out on an item they really wanted because they got the outbid notice at a time when they were eating dinner/talking/interacting with the event, etc.
- Their item isn’t poached at the last second, leaving them with no chance of coming back for that one last bid.
- If the bid reaches a number higher than the guest’s auto bid, they will receive a notification so that they can bid again.
In other words, it creates a worry-free night for them!
Pros for you, as an organization:
- It makes sure you get the most for each item.
- It better ensures donors keep bidding on multiple items because they aren’t having to back and update bids on multiple items.
- It creates happy bidders, which correlates to higher and more frequent bids in the future.
In other words, it creates less work for you — now and later!
7. Make Your Auction Items Unique
On that same mobile bidding vein, make your items unique. You can have the best-and-easiest-to-use technology ever, but if your items are things that your guests can get anywhere, they most likely won’t donate.
Here are some unique items that have performed well at many Catholic fundraisers. These range in price from smaller items with a low fair-market value (FMV) to larger, more expensive ones:
- Front row seating to a popular or crowded mass
- A special parking space
- A pew/building/room named after the winning bidder or a person of their choice
- A trip to the Vatican
- Sponsorship of a mission retreat
We’d love to tell you more about mobile fundraising!
For more best practices and tips on all aspects of mobile fundraising and insights into how Catholic nonprofit organizations are benefiting from these technologies, make sure to attend the presentation at the 2018 NCDC Conference: “How Embracing Technology Can Increase Donations.”