Technology is constantly evolving and reshaping our world. You can see the evidence of it everywhere you look. Cable TV is losing viewers to streaming companies like Netflix. Established newspapers are losing subscribers to online media outlets like Buzzfeed. Landlines are going extinct as people prefer mobile phones.

These changes are happening fast. It might seem safe to assume that people from the Traditionalist (born 1922-1945) and Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) generations are shrugging these changes off and staying set in their ways. After all, you can probably name at least one person who doesn’t know what “wifi” means.

Because of this, you might be hesitant to make online or mobile giving a bigger part of your fundraising strategy. You don’t want to scare away your loyal, long-standing donors, right?

But don’t fret – your donors are more tech-savvy than you think!


Older generations aren’t afraid of technology. A report published by the Pew Research Center about U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015 found that “64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.”

You can reach more than half of your target audience through mobile appeals like emails or social media campaigns. And that 64% only covers smartphone owners. Giving campaigns that you run through text messages would also reach your supporters who can’t get rid of their flip phone. Based on the rise from 2011 and 2015, it’s likely that these numbers will only grow in the next few years.

Great,” you might be thinking. “My donors might own phones, but how do I know that they’ll participate in online or mobile giving appeals?

Good question.

According to a donor survey commissioned by Dunham+Company and conducted by Campbell Rinker, “nearly 1 of 5 donors (18 percent) say they’ve used their mobile device to give to a charity’s website [in 2015], up from just 10 percent two years prior.”

The survey continues to show that the largest jump occurs in the number of donors under 40 who used their mobile device to donate to a nonprofit (9% in 2013 to 21% in 2015). However, it also shows that the 60+ donor range nearly doubled, increasing from 7% in 2013 to 13% in 2015.

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that donors are open to online and mobile giving campaigns. If you think about it, people use mobile devices for plenty of everyday interactions, from keeping up with family and friends on social networks to online shopping and banking. Why wouldn’t they be willing to donate to their favorite organizations that way, too?


The rise in smartphone ownership and online giving didn’t happen overnight. There’s still work to be done before the number of donors who use their mobile device to give to a charity shrinks even more. However, these positive trends show it will be worth it to invest your time and money in more online and mobile giving appeals. But how?


Make it as easy as possible for your donors to show their support. The most basic way is to create a short online donation form that is mobile-friendly and easy to find on your website. Add a “Donate Now” button in the top corner of your website. This way, people can get to your form in just one click.


When you buy a new phone, kitchen gadget, or even a walking/talking children’s toy, you get a manual that explains how to use it.

You don’t have to worry about writing a whole complicated book, but following their lead isn’t a bad idea. Show your donors how they can find your online form. Explain how they sign up for your email list. Encourage them to purchase tickets for a fundraiser online.

If you’re using a fundraising technology company like us for your events, you can include directions on how to bid in your event program. You could also create a cute design and hang posters with the directions around your event space. Our on-site staff will be available to assist guests, as well.

Educating your donors on mobile giving will show them how easy and painless it is to support your organization that way.


One thing Gesture’s on-site staff has noticed at events is that older guests act like kids in a candy shop when using the Gesture platform to bid on items and donate. They receive immediate text messages when they’re outbid, can set auto bids on items so they don’t go over-budget, and can watch bids on the most attractive items rise in real-time. And if someone doesn’t have a smartphone or forgets it at home? They pair up with friends or the Gesture staff to check on their items and keep bidding. It’s more competitive and exciting to have the ability to bid at their fingertips.

This is an easy, unique addition to your event. Plus, it’s good for your organization. Guests having fun = more money raised for your cause.

Another way to use technology to make giving more fun is to create visually appealing videos that tug at your supporters’ emotions and/or make them laugh. Sharing them on social media or in email donation appeals will make your ask even stronger.

Create a hashtag on social media so you – and your supporters – can see what others are saying about your organization. Ask people to share pictures, videos, and testimonials.

The possibilities are endless.


Don’t let fear of excluding your loyal donors stop you from making online and mobile giving a bigger piece of your fundraising strategy. If you educate them on the process and make it simple and fun, they’ll hop right in!