Over the last few years, mobile payments have become the “new normal” for many consumers. The latest advancements in mobile technology have led to mobile payment systems such as NFC, tap-and-pay and fingerprint payment technology becoming the fastest and most convenient way to purchase for consumers looking to shop on the go.

While many consumer-oriented businesses are already well on their way to a mobile-first or omnichannel approach to customer interaction, some sectors are lagging behind.

One of the most prevalent areas where mobile adoption remains slow, both in terms of mobile marketing and payments, is among charity organisations and non-profit groups.

A missed opportunity

According to research from Episerver, as many as a quarter of the UK’s largest non-profit organisations don’t have a responsive mobile website and 40% don’t offer a mobile app of any kind.

Virtually none of the UK’s top charities provide an Android-specific app, despite Android now controlling over 80% of the global market share for smartphones. And those charities that have embraced an app strategy prefer to use these as a promotional tool, rather than as a source of donations.

It would be easy to view these statistics as evidence that the third sector is reluctant to adopt mobile technologies, but it appears the reality is that many non-profits are keen to adapt and embrace mobile, but are simply further behind in their strategies than many other sectors.

One such example is the adoption and ongoing reliance on mobile websites. While it’s clear that charities are keen to reach mobile audiences, the vast majority still rely on mobile redirects rather than on responsive designs. As such, rather than a webpage seamlessly adapting for a mobile device, users are thrust onto an entirely separate version of the site – a tactic that is both confusing from a user navigation standpoint and bad for SEO.

Unfortunately, for many non-profit organisations, the idea of rebuilding an entire site from the ground up – to provide a truly responsive experience – simply isn’t feasible. The third sector runs on notoriously tight budgets and, as a result, any downtime or significant upfront expense represents a loss in donations that could have been used more wisely. By tagging on a separate mobile site non-profits can avoid a complete infrastructure overhaul and still provide a relatively visitor-friendly experience. But is it the best decision in the long run?

Changing consumer demands

While it’s understandable that non-profits may be keen not to redirect their budgets towards flashy mobile websites just for the sake of it, the reality is that investment in marketing innovation can ultimately drive greater demand and greater success for an organisation.

As many as one in five (22%) of us now donate to charity using our mobile phones at least once a month, while 37% make an annual donation via their smartphones or tablet devices. Whether through text appeals, mobile apps or in-browser donations, mobile technology appeals perfectly to the in-the-moment mindset associated with charitable decision making.

Given the draw of the mobile for consumers and increasing usage, it’s clear that charities and wider non-profit organisations would be wise to adopt a mobile-first – if not an omnichannel – mindset when developing their promotional and payment strategies.

By allowing consumers to donate in a way that suits them, the third sector can drastically improve its ability to engage with existing and potential supporters, regardless of when or where they choose to donate.

Strategic innovation

With so many new tools and platforms now entering the market that allow organisations to develop and manage their own web platforms and payment systems, embracing new technologies doesn’t need to be the financial or time burden that it was five years ago.

By piling quick fixes on top of existing (and often outdated) systems, the third sector is simply making the issue worse – and ultimately limiting its own opportunity for future donations.

What is needed a longer-term strategy for digital transformation; an investment in the technologies that allow organisations to meet consumer demands and truly innovate in their approach.

The non-profits that fail to invest strategically and think about their offering in this way will rapidly fall below consumer expectations. Those who embrace the mobile-first mindset will reap the rewards of increased engagement and loyalty, and, ultimately, greater support for their cause.

Joey Moore

Joey Moore


Joey Moore, Director of Product Marketing at Episerver