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Red Cross expects increase in competition for donated dollar in 2011

More nonprofits will enter the mobile giving ecosystem in 2011, increasing the competition for the donated dollar, according to the American Red Cross.

A challenge, at least for the Red Cross, is that in non-disaster situations it needs to find ways to make mobile giving a compelling choice for the public so that campaign costs remain low in comparison to the value that mobile giving provides to fulfill the organization?s mission.

?The downside of all this new attention on mobile charitable giving is that increased vigilance is needed to protect the public?s trust in mobile charitable giving,? said Joshua Kittner, senior marketing consultant for digital engagement at the American Red Cross, Washington.

?We expect to see continued support from the wireless community to evolve charitable giving guidelines so that consumers are confident that their donations are being put to work as intended and that consumers only receive follow-up messages that they have chosen to receive,? he said. 

The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and keep people safe every day through donations.

Be relevant, informative and engaging
In 2011 nonprofits need to focus on finding innovative ways to provide value back to constituents that choose to opt-in to messaging or donate via SMS.

Many donors want to have a deeper relationship with the Red Cross or other nonprofits they support, and organizations need to keep the dialogue relevant, informative and engaging with donors and supporters not only during times of disaster, but throughout the year.

Nonprofits need to focus on ways to use SMS and other mobile technologies to deliver services to the public in 2011.

?Some of the other uses that we have piloted include blood program communications, health and safety tips to the Haitian people, and SMS delivery notification of cash grants under a $50 million program to give cash grants of approximately $125 to up to 400,000 Haitian families over the next several months to buy food and supplies, fund the education of their children, purchase medicine, repair homes, relocate from camps, and invest in their businesses and livelihoods,? Mr. Kittner said.

?So we have seen SMS being used as both a channel for compassion through donations, and a mechanism to deliver help and hope,? he said. 

During the Haiti crisis, the Red Cross identified a need to use mobile and social technology to give the public a more involved role in disaster response, empowering people to report specific needs and helping aid agencies gather real-time data for response decision-making.

2011 and beyond
In 2011 the Red Cross expects the use of SMS will continue and perhaps accelerate as more phones enter into the market and applications such as Facebook continue to integrate with SMS.

More marketers will enter the space, driving competition and innovation.

?We?ll see more charities entering the mobile giving space, more competition for the public?s attention, and more creativity in marketing campaigns,? Mr. Kittner said. ?Mobile campaigns will become more deeply integrated with organizations? digital strategies. 

?I think we?ll also see greater participation from social media brands like Facebook and Twitter in mobile philanthropy, both for fundraising and service delivery,? he said. ?All of this is good news for the wireless industry and the nonprofit community.?

Reccommendations for nonprofits
First, maximize opportunities by creating a surround-sound effect.

Cross-channel integration and consistency of messaging and experience across online and digital channels, as well as offline channels, are key for success.

Providing multiple digital entry points into the organization allows users to decide how they want to interact with the organization and how they want to turn their compassion into action.

Second, set realistic expectations on results and invest rationally so that the mobile channel runs efficiently.

Third, continue to explore ways to enhance segmentation and targeted appeals by moving to more two-way conversations with supporters to learn what they expect from the organization.

Use tools such as surveys, voting and other interactive capabilities to make the two-way conversations relevant and interesting for the target audience.

Finally, continue to invest in mobile-optimized assets such as mobile-friendly Web sites to ensure a consumer-friendly and consistent experience.

?The love affair with the mobile phone will continue into 2011,? Mr. Kittner said.

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Marketer