Mobile fundraising continues to take off

This month, Instagram announced that it will be adding clickable stickers to posts that supporters of nonprofits can now add to their pictures. These stickers can be offered by approved nonprofits, which will then receive those donations, marking a new way that mobile phones can directly benefit fundraising. This follows up on Facebook’s (which owns Instagram) Fundraiser program, which integrates with Rallybound through our partnership with Charity Dynamics.

With this new milestone in mind, we thought we’d look at some other ways that mobile fundraising takes place today.

Mobile email & Responsive design

At this point – of more than 10 years into the iPhone / Android era – it’s almost hard to imagine that at one point phones didn’t have email access. Of course, the iPhone wasn’t the first phone to have data access – Blackberry and similar phones had dedicated email clients. With email and (in modern terms very clunky) web browsers, email campaigns that could be set up to work on a desktop could also work on mobile phones.

Email – whether read on a desktop or mobile phone – is still the most effective way to reach donors in peer to peer fundraising campaigns. Rallybound enables this by connecting with a fundraiser’s address book so that they can send emails to their friends and family through our system either from their computer or their own mobile device. With modern smartphones, where most email is read today, this makes optimizing emails for any sized screen a top priority for any campaign, as is having a personal fundraising page for the user to land on be mobile responsive.

This means that the donor can have their entire donation experience take place on their mobile phone, from receiving a nicely formatted email sent by a fundraiser through the Rallybound system, to landing on that fundraiser’s page and making a donation in as few steps as possible (and possibly using modern mobile payment services such as Apple Pay).

SMS methods

Before mobile phones had data plans or could connect with WiFi, SMS was the only way that text could be sent to and between mobile phones. Rallybound uses SMS today to send donation requests that include the URL to a personal fundraising page. As with email, we use the fundraiser’s address book to leverage their peer networks with immediate effect.

Another option that some nonprofits use is what is called a “short code” (a 5 or 6 digit number sometimes given as corresponding letters), that needs to be purchased. With a short code, a nonprofit can set up a campaign to let supporters donate by pledging up to $10 at a time by simply texting the donation to the code. The donation is charged to the donor’s phone bill. This donation method is still used today, especially in response to natural disasters.

However, there are drawbacks to short codes. First of all, short codes are expensive, usually costing thousands of dollars. Secondly, some donors do not like the idea of paying through their phone bill. Third, donations are often not immediately available to nonprofits.

While Rallybound does not set up short codes, services such as Twillio can be used to help with these implementations.



Chad Catacchio


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