Don’t Underestimate the Iceberg

By Oisin Lunny, Senior Market Development Manager, OpenMarket for Institute of Fundraising

The iceberg metaphor is a stalwart of many webinars and presentations, sometimes with added puns around the word “Titanic”, as in titanic oversight.

The metaphor is generally used as follows: the visible tip of the iceberg represents what the audience is familiar with, whereas the much larger hidden depths represent a significant missed opportunity or threat.

Its an effective metaphor, and can be understood instantly.

So here’s my proposal. Mobile phone uptake is the most important business news of the 21st Century. The third sector has magnificently embraced the power of mobile fundraising. At OpenMarket we are honored to underpin some of the largest mobile fundraising pioneers such as the Disasters & Emergency Committee, Cancer Research UK, Save The Children, Open Fundraising and InstaGiv. Last year alone our systems processed over £30,000,000 for UK charities.

Back to the iceberg metaphor.

Although mobile devices are an unparalleled way to gather instant, in-the-moment donations, typically in the space of a few seconds, their extended potential for the third sector is being underutilized. However the hidden depths of mobile are rapidly becoming apparent.

In 1995 only 1% of the planet had a mobile phone, last year we reached 73% penetration. Global telecoms industry revenue amounts to around $275 for every person on earth. Mobile devices are utterly ubiquitous. They will be responsible for bringing the planet close to 100% Internet penetration within five years, according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

We have indeed evolved to Phono-Sapiens according to the Economist magazine, with levels of mobile device adoption, and mobile engagement, illustrated by an almost vertical J-Curve.

Smartphone vs PC

For the third sector, fundraising alone is truly the tip of the iceberg.

Humans want to help each other, to be generous, to pick up someone if they have fallen down. Charities have a uniquely resonant place in our society. People also stay close to their mobile devices, which is why they are so incredibly powerful for telethon fundraising.

But what about after the telethon, the ask, the donation?

If someone has supported a charity, the supporter feels a connection. If the supporter engaged with the charity using their mobile device, the connection is in their pocket, travelling with them wherever they go. There is nothing closer.

So how can charities extend the one-time donation relationship to a longer-term partnership? Here are some tips to get below the iceberg of fundraising, to extend your relationship throughout your supporters lives by using mobile engagement.

1 – Keep talking

Effective mobile communications are about clear, instant messages that are in line with the brand identity and voice of the charity. A text message to say “thank you” should be part of a story of ongoing support for your charity. Not just “thank you” followed by a deafening silence. Follow up with an update to let the supporter know what is happening with their donation. Send a photograph, a link to a video. Thank them again, and remind them how easily they can donate in order to keep supporting your valuable work. Contact your mobile donors within six months to ensure the integrity of your mobile data, after six months mobile numbers can be recycled by the UK networks, which means you can’t contact your donors after this time lapse.

Use mobile to ask your supporters how they feel about you. For example: ask if they like receiving calls from your dialer agencies? We have found that response rates for quick SMS surveys can be as high as 20%. With mobile messaging there is a certain degree of separation from the ask, so it doesn’t feel like a sales question. It also feels like you are listening to your supporters, and that their feedback is genuinely important.

2 – Stop advertising, start engaging

“Spray and prey” advertising is dead. Interruption doesn’t work on the intensely personal mobile device.

We live in an era where mobile first consumers expect to be offered genuine value, carefully curated by brands that have built up a respectful relationship, through meaningful, personalized communications.

Personalise around the mobile device, look at how mobile can optimize the user journey, take away pain points and make their life easier. Mobile gift aid is a great case in point. By offering a frictionless gift aid option with the “thank you” SMS for mobile donations, we have seen success rates of up to 60%.

Save the bees text message






3 – Use mobile to streamline events

Ask supporters at marathons to register with their mobile numbers. Send them motivational thoughts in the lead up to the event, and good luck messages on the morning of the race. If people are entering a ballot to choose from several charities, encourage them to choose yours with a simple text message.

In the lead up to the event, text your supporters asking them would they be interesting in running for you. If they reply yes, offer to send them a free info pack, and a free branded running vest. Ask for their address, shirt size and gender details by text.

After the run send your supporters a thank you text inviting them to run again the following year. You can streamline the registration in a way they will appreciate by including, for example, a personal code and a race number. Once they have embarked on this journey of communicating with you, they will be happy to continue the conversation by phone call when the time is right.

Save the bees text

So as you can see from these three examples, while mobile fundraising can be incredibly effective, and generates millions for charities every year, it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of your ongoing relationship with your donors. By engaging with them throughout their experience as supporters, you are likely to have a better relationship with them, for longer.

Iceberg mobile engagement

What did you think of this particular iceberg metaphor? Feel free to comment below, or drop me a line.