Nonprofits: Go mobile and get your message read now

Guest post by Erin McMahon, Digital Marketing Strategist Nonprofit friends: If you want to get critical information to employees and other stakeholders in real time, actually have your messages read, and do so in a private and secure way, you’re looking for internal mobile communication. What is internal mobile communication?
  • It isn’t: email, text (SMS) or anything tied to a mobile number
  • It is: secure messaging within a private network established for your organization, using a mobile-based platform
How can mobile communication get more people to read my messages? An internal mobile communication platform removes barriers. After 10+ years in communications (7+ in nonprofit), I can tell you with confidence five reasons your email isn’t getting read:
  1. Most email isn’t designed for mobile consumption. Recipients on mobile miss information or skip reading altogether.
  2. Recipients don’t have time for longer emails and put them off indefinitely.
  3. Recipients don’t think emails are relevant to them.
  4. Inbox is full / other bounce-back / server problems / it’s Tuesday.
  5. Two words: email overload. (The McKinsey Global Institute said the average person spends 28% of a work week dealing with email!)

McKinsey Global The Social Economy

What about other tools? Sometimes texting (SMS) is effective one-to-one, but SMS isn’t for everyone, communicating with groups is messy and inefficient, and it’s not secure for sensitive information. Phone calls are another option, but taking a call isn’t always practical, and if you’re considering conference calls, let me just direct you over here to A Conference Call in Real Life. Using internal mobile communications bypasses these dilemmas. Conversation, quick questions, and urgent updates make more sense on mobile. Push notifications mean that your message is immediately brought to a recipient’s attention. And stepping outside of listserves, replies to all, and simply too much email makes your message more personal and valuable to the recipient. Why does real-time information sharing matter? People are increasingly using their mobile devices to get and share information, make choices and get answers. (Check out Pew Internet’s Mobile Technology fact Sheet, “Just in time” Information section.) So when is real-time interaction important for nonprofits?
  • Crisis communications
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Responding to urgent needs
  • Addressing unexpected changes
  • Sharing critical program or funding information
  • Maximizing efficiency
Employees, especially working in the field and not sitting at a desk a majority of their day, may be unable to check email frequently, or may not even have organizational email accounts. By the time these folks get email, if they get it, the information may be useless, or even incorrect. And considering crisis communications, if you need to communicate about a natural disaster, a closing of a facility or service, or another major news announcement, email is unlikely to reach all the right hands in a timely fashion. By eliminating unnecessary delays in communication, real-time mobile communication can maximize:
  • Accuracy
  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to adapt
  • Productivity
Is my information protected on a mobile platform? Privacy and security are important to everyone, especially nonprofits who provide services in sensitive areas such as abuse, healthcare, or services for children. The alternatives to email (SMS and social media) don’t adequately protect sensitive information. With advanced security measures, and attention to data encryption and hosting, a mobile platform can offer you safe, reliable, and even HIPAA and PHI compliant communications. Match the medium to the message and the audience
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Volunteers build a Family Scholar House park in 8 hours. Photo courtesy of
Nonprofit internal communications often reach beyond employees. Think about . . .
  • Board members
  • Volunteers
  • Key investors
  • Strategic partners
  • Clients or constituents
It isn’t always possible or sensible to give members of these groups organizational email accounts, or to attempt to use SMS or social media to reach them all. Email, SMS and social media are still have their place, but when it comes to internal communications, these options usually fail to deliver results. With 90% of American adults now having a mobile phone (Pew Internet), and 66.8% of Americans having a smartphone (comScore), you no longer have to daydream about staff actually reading your important updates, interacting with your most important donors when they want to, getting more immediate answers to questions from program delivery staff, or moving staff, volunteers, donors and your board to genuinely engage with each other. Take the mobile leap and make real-time communication a reality!  

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