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    August 22, 2008

    Part I: Mobileization: Is it keeping you up at night?

    If the first thing you thought when you read that was "mobileization? Can she not spell? I do want to mobilize my donors and volunteers, but it doesn't keep me up at night." I wouldn't blame you. That's probably what most of us would think.

    But what I mean about "mobileization" is the mobile revolution that has happened all around us (yes I am saying "happened" because it's already came and went).

    Why would this keep you up at night Miriam? Don't we have bigger fish to fry in the nonprofit fundraising space? Files are shrinking, rumors of DM dying are swirling, everyone is teetering on the agonizing edge of Web 2.0-to leap or not to leap, and you are lying awake at night worrying about mobile phones?

    Yep. Of all the things facing us right now, the mobile platform is what worries me the most. DM files might be shrinking (DM may not be dying, but DM donors might be), but I see millions of donors out there, from boomers to Yers, who we could tap into if DM is in fact on its way out. And the population keeps expanding, so no I'm not worried.

    And while we all wring our hands about what to do about this whole web business-drive donors to our sites? Buy key words? Start a group on Facebook? Start our own social network? How do we "harness" the web for fundraising? I am starting to get a flashback to the late 90's, when the .com bubble was bursting from for-profits that had overinvested in "websites", and at the same time, may NGOs were still deciding whether they even needed a "web presence."

    Here is the thing, I have learned that in order to see what's coming in the nonprofit world 3-5 years down the road, I need to keep a sharp ear to my for profit colleagues and the things they are thinking about, trying out, figuring out and worrying about right now.

    And right now, I hear them doing all that about mobile:

    • We worry about how to drive online traffic to our sites. They are worrying about whether their sites are "mobi-compatible" for the various browsers any given PDA might be using.

    • We worry about figuring out Google search and how to optimize for key words. They are worrying about the best platform to use for mobile advertising.

    • We are still trying to figure out how to read our web analytics. They are trying to figure out how to email someone and text message them at the same time and not look like they don't realize they are talking to the same person.

    • We wonder how the "viral" web can help us reach our financial goals. They wonder how "viral messaging" can help spread the word about their products.

    I gotta tell you, in the world of nonprofit, my profit colleagues are my canaries in the goldmine. We are always a little late to catch on, but it's coming. And if you have never thought about any of the mobile concepts I mention above, or if the thought of thinking about it give you a headache- you are not alone and welcome to my nightmare. That is what worries me most-I cannot even begin to think of everything we are going to have to learn as a community.

    And let's be clear: mobile is not some kind of fad. Mobile is here to stay and it matters and EVERYONE is doing it. And in Part II, I'll tell you why I think everyone is doing it-and why we need move faster on this than we did with the web.

    1 comment:

    chris m. said...

    Miriam, I think you'd be pleased to know that there are a number of non-profits and cause-related organizations that are actually leading the way with Mobile.

    For example, our friends at CREDO won a Cannes Cyber Lion for their mobile efforts.

    Disclosure: I'm one of the founders of Mobile Commons and we work with many wonderful, innovative non-profits.

    I think one of the behaviors to look at here is that people care about causes. If you look to social networks as a proxy, Causes on Facebook is popular, but no one seems to care about Coca-Cola. As more organizations start unifying their media, they're going to be able to use the power of their cause.

    And that is what we've seen in mobile. The most overwhelming responses are to things that people care about.