Campaigns now have the unique opportunity to build intimate relationships with their supporters around the clock via their mobile devices. So don’t be shy: Your supporters want to hear from you.

One in four social media users, ages 10-34, believe that it’s important to receive information about candidates on their mobile devices. This is where you’re going to find your supporters, and this is how they are going to learn about your candidate.

But how do you leverage mobile devices to get your donors to give early and give often? Here are four steps you can take to help increase your online fundraising haul:

Starting today, all your emails should be formatted as a “mobile version.” Your first job is to drive donors to your website. Email is still the online king and makes up 94 percent of all the time people spend online. By January 2014, mobile email opens will surpass those of traditional computers. On top of that 70 percent of consumers delete emails that don’t render well on mobile devices. If that doesn’t give you enough reason to think only mobile for email, consider that 97 percent of emails are viewed just once. If you don’t catch a recipient’s interest when they see your email on their phone, you’ve lost them.

Your mobile optimized email better have a compelling fundraising call-to-action. If you think getting people to read our emails was hard when they were looking at their big computer monitors, well it just got harder now that your supporters are quickly skimming through our emails on their phones.

You only have your reader’s attention for about three seconds so make your message clear and visible without scrolling. Creating a compelling message to encourage your supporters to give is the hardest part of creating a fundraising email. Your message must be clear, concise, and compelling. Without providing your supporter with a good reason to take action, your efforts are for naught.

Your text should be clear and legible. I recommend using 14px fonts at the absolute minimum. Be direct and cut all unnecessary words from your copy.

Avoid screen clutter and keep your use of navigation or non-fundraising links to a minimum. Don’t sidetrack your recipient with superfluous distractions while they are taking in your awesome call-to-action.

Do test your email in all the major operating systems. There are lots of tools out there that can show you how your email will render in iOS, Android, or Windows Phone8.

Make it easy for supporters to give you their money. Mobile donations last cycle averaged about $107 per gift, so make it easy for your prospects to give. Prominently display your call-to-action as the visual priority of your message. Make your “Donate Now” button big and easily accessible by someone with fat fingers.

Mobile device payment technology is evolving quickly. Your objective should be to remove any sort of friction around the donation process. The web already eliminates the need to hunt down envelopes, stamps, the printing of donation forms and that long walk to the mail box.  

Once your prospect has committed to making a donation, remove every unnecessary link or step in the donation process. Link your call-to-action button directly to a donation form. If you have contact or personal information for your prospect, pre-populate the donation form fields when ever possible.

Every extra click you force upon a donor will lead to fewer donations. Be ruthless in your simplification of the donate process.

Political fundraising specific donation tools, like WidgetMakr, can reduce the number of donation form fields required by your mobile donors during the transaction process.

Make your website mobile friendly. How does your campaign website look when you open it on your smart phone? Does the functionality still work? How fast does it load?

Warning: Web page load time is a major contributing factor to page abandonment. Users have no patience. Every second of delay can cost you seven percent in conversions of visitor-to-donor. Mobile fundraisers are already handicapped in this area as it takes more than 7 seconds for the average mobile page to load. Luckily, most mobile web users are willing to wait 6-10 seconds for a page to load. (Akamai has a great tool for testing the mobile load time of your website.)

Your mobile user is different than the person sitting behind a computer so make sure you take the mobile users needs into consideration.

  • The mobile user is hopefully on a path to take action (donate) so don’t get in their way.
  • They want information quickly.
  • They have an even shorter attention span than someone sitting at a desk.

Keep mobile usability and speed in mind, and make sure your site utilizes responsive design. Responsive web design enables your website to automatically optimize its user interface for various mobile device screen sizes. Some best practices for mobile websites:

  • Strip away extra design elements
  • Utilize single column layouts with large fonts
  • Use collapsible navigation but keep it front and center
  • Make form fields spacious for easy text entry
  • Provide large accessible buttons for fat fingers (not little mouse cursors)
  • Show progress indicators to show users that a button tap has registered an action
  • Provide a click-to-call phone number so the supporter can contact the campaign directly

Neglect mobile devices at your peril. Your supporters are surgically attached to their smart phones. Don’t wait for them to sit down at their computers to receive your perfectly crafted fundraising message because it may never happen.

Erik currently runs sales and marketing for CMDI, the largest Republican fundraising technology platform. Prior to joining CMDI, Erik founded numerous fundraising technology companies whose products have raised over $350 million for hundreds of political and cause-based organizations.