Wisdom Wednesdays: #@apps — Organizations on the Go!

by Meg Busse

Can you read this?:  “n dey sA 2 him, w’v hre bt 5 loaves, n 2 fishes. He z, brng em hither 2 me. &he commanded d multitude 2 sit dwn on d grass, n t%k d 5 loaves, n d 2 fishes, n lukin ^ 2 heaven, he blest, n broK, n gave d loaves 2 [his] disciples, n d disciples 2 d multitude. n dey ll 8, n wr satisfied: n dey t%k ^ of d fragmnts dat remained 12 baskets ful. n dey dat had e10 wr bout 5k men, Bsides women n kids.”

Congratulations and pat yourself on the back if you can read this without going online to check Webopedia for character translations.  You’ve mastered text language, and GBU (God Bless You)!

Colleagues, the mobile app is here for a very long time.  Mobilestatistics.com reports that the Apple App Store has more than 650,000 apps available.  Apps for various mobile devices can be a fantastic way to reach out to your constituents with easy communication, another giving option, brief surveys, address updates, links to your portals and updated information from your website.  There are even mobile apps that use push technology to send out a brief, timely message to anyone using your app.

Busse-MegLiving in the mobile age presents new and interesting challenges.  The opening passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew found above may not be speaking in tongues but it is definitely speaking in fragments.  Perhaps you are like me in wondering whether I can keep up with what seem to be daily upgrades … and not just me personally, but me professionally.

Communicating with our constituents is so much more involved than BEM (before email), isn’t it?  We have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.  We tweet, text and blog.  Our Nooks, Kindles and tablets carry thousands of books without breaking our backs and they can hold our JPEGs, GIFs, MP3s and PNGs.  If you think about it, we became this world of acronyms in a little more than 30 years.

But where do we start?  I am not a tech expert, but I believe applying the maxim, “Charity begins at home,” is an excellent place to start your adventure.  If you have not created a personal Facebook or Twitter account, do it now and jump into it head first.  Learn the basics and you will see immediately how to translate this global communication method into more timely information for your constituents.  It will help you understand the nuances of mobile communication, and is great practice for writing the concise messages that are necessary today.  As an added bonus, you might reconnect with past friends and find yourself energized about technology.

As another communication tool, a mobile app offers our organizations an introduction to the world through iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, Androids and Windows phones.  It expands the reach of our stories and mission, and it doesn’t have to blow up the budget.  One of our vendors at Concordia University Chicago markets an app for nonprofits that comes in around $2,500 annually.  It easily links to our website and allows constituents to select only the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds they are interested in reading.  Other vendors market similar apps for even less, sometimes much less, with varying levels of features and support offered.  Whatever you choose, make sure the mobile app connects people to your social media offerings.

Get in on mobile apps now, and they can help set you apart.  But wait much longer, and you could fall behind.

There’s a world of technology that can help you and your organization grow — try it out, and you’ll soon be hooked!

TTFN (Ta Ta for now)

Meg Busse is Senior Director of Annual Giving at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Ill.

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