Mobile Apps Make Nonprofit Messaging Precise, Immediate

Nonprofit Mobile App Communications

These days, a nonprofit communications plan is about micro-audiences, immediacy, and precision. Any lag and you’ve lost them. Anything but what they want to know, and they’ll “swipe left” on your message.

And while there are many ways to connect with your donors and other people who need to hear from you — from nonprofit direct mail to text — none hits on those three points as efficiently and effectively as a mobile app. Mobile apps cut through the clutter, making it more convenient — and likely — for your supporters to act.

A mobile app is a superhighway from Point A (your organization) to Point B (your donor, your volunteers, your community, etc.) and from Point B back to Point A, bringing with it the desired action — whether it be a donation, signing a petition, signing up to volunteer at an event, etc.  

Here are 5 things to consider when considering if a mobile app is right for your nonprofit communications plan.

  1. A mobile app lets you talk to your supporters in the moment, sending your messaging directly to their phones. You aren’t going into an inbox that they may or may not check later and most likely won’t act on or even open.
  2. It’s getting to be less OK to send mass messaging, and there’s no need to. The tag feature in a mobile app ensures that people are getting just the information they need or want. Not a lot of fluff that will cause them to skim right past your messaging. Your event volunteers need to know that the caterers are arriving for the gala at noon and someone needs to be there to let them in, but your board and donors don’t.
  3. Picture it — a donor is walking along and notices the laughter of children on the playground. Just then, she gets a mobile app notification reminding her that her donations helped build that playground. Or the moment a volunteer walks up to the site of a home-building project, the mobile app tells him exactly where to go to pick up his hammer. With geo-tagging, it’s possible. That emotional charge — in the moment — is how to thank donors and other supporters!
  4. If your organization relies on sponsorships, you’re probably always looking for ways to give them more bang for their buck. Rather than relegating them to a name on a brochure, a mobile app can notify someone when she walks past a coffee shop that donated java for your upcoming event and encourage her to support that business, for example.
  5. Mobile app notifications deposit your supporters directly where you want them to go. Looking for donations? It’ll take them to your donation page. Need volunteers? A sign-up page it is. Or a petition page, your homepage, or anywhere you want people to take a specific action.


Mobile apps aren’t necessarily for communicating with the general public. Nonprofits can best take advantage of them by using them to talk directly and immediately to specific audiences.

But how? Easy … everyone who registers designates their “tag” — volunteer, donor, board member, etc. After that, it’s easy to send targeted messaging through push notifications that appear on recipients’ phones — like a text on steroids. What’s that look like? A few examples:

  • Volunteers: Your annual fundraiser is here — your volunteers all got the email, everyone knows what’s up and what to do.  But emails won’t help once they start arriving and are in the thick of things. Mobile app notifications can drive volunteer engagement by pointing them to where they need to go and what they need to do in real-time. Or you can send messages to your general pool of volunteers to recruit them to help in upcoming efforts.
  • Those you serve: Food banks can use a mobile app to let clients know when and where food distribution is happening; organizations of all types can use it to alert clients about emergency services, changes in operating hours, nonprofit events, etc. Schools can pinpoint communications to students, prospective students, families, faculty. The personalization is so precise, they can target students of different age groups or grades and their families. Animal shelters can use it to reach foster families immediately when an animal in need arrives.
  • Board members: Mobile apps are an easy way to keep board members engaged with very targeted and instantaneous communications tailored just for them, enhancing a sense of importance and exclusivity.
  • Donors: Donor messaging is very precisely crafted; mobile apps can add another level of consistency that echoes your other donor communications to deepen the engagement and nurture relationships or thank donors in real-time.

Studies have shown that most people look at their phones on average 100 times a day. That’s some prime real estate right there. Shouldn’t your organization be on it?

Creating its own mobile app can be an expensive proposition for a nonprofit in terms of time and money. Another way to go is to sign up for an affordable platform that functions just like your own app but at a much lower cost.

Either way, a mobile app can serve your nonprofit in myriad ways when it comes to engaging and thanking donors, rallying volunteers, gathering names on petitions, and keeping boards from getting bored, plus so much more. It’s worth looking into and learning just how mobile apps can help your nonprofit.