Mobile Giving and the Future of Online Donations in Higher Ed

The world of higher education is an ever-changing one, and advancement offices that help fund higher education are being forced to adapt in myriad ways.

While alumni associations and other fundraising organizations are still sending out mass mailings asking for a few bucks from graduates young and old, a decline in response rates has made online giving through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets a growing source for donation dollars today.

But just how much more are graduates giving to their alma maters through devices than through more traditional sources?

Mobile Giving: 13 Percent and Rising

In their Benchmarks 2016 report, M+R, a consulting company serving nonprofits, found that 13 percent of all online donations are now made through mobile devices.


That may not seem like much, but as these devices become more prevalent and alumni become (even more) tech savvy, the number will continue to grow.

Today—especially among recent college graduates—it’s become a norm to pay bills, send money to friends, and make other simple transactions on mobile devices. And with millennials having recently eclipsed the baby boomers as the largest generational bloc in the United States, this mindset will only become more prevalent.

According to a 2015 Entrepreneur article, 66 percent of all time spent on ecommerce websites was on mobile devices, while 61 percent of people polled in a recent study by the Internet Retailer Mobile 500 Guide said they would leave a website if it wasn’t optimized for mobile.

More Devices = Time for Change

Basically, by not optimizing your websites and advancement pages, over half of your visitors are likely to say “no thanks” and keep it moving to another nonprofit website whose cause they care about (and has a mobile site that is easier to navigate).

This is bad news for the fundraising arms of many colleges and universities that aren’t keeping up with advances in technology. However, many leading institutions are taking steps to develop strategies and embrace technologies that allow alumni to make donations easily on their mobile phones. 

Small School, Big Results

Recently, Williams College revamped their online giving program to include a mobile-friendly giving form and saw its donor conversion rate increase by 36 percent, giving the school its third consecutive victory in an annual young alumni giving challenge against rival Amherst College.


During the challenge, donations through mobile devices increased a whopping 67 percent—the result of a simple, mobile-optimized form that allowed Williams alumni to complete a donation in a matter of seconds.

Download our case study to learn more about online giving at Williams! 

Even in a small giving challenge between two private colleges in rural western Massachusetts, it is clear to see where donations in higher-ed fundraising are trending—toward fingertips on touchscreen devices.

Looking to optimize your online giving program? Check out EverTrue’s solution for annual giving.

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