Will Mobile Payments Transform
Political Fundraising in 2012?
Now that digital and social media are core parts of the political campaign toolkit - what can we expect in 2012? In the 2012 elections we expect to see mobile being the big story. With the rise of mobile payments and digital wallets, we can expect to see mobile fundraising as a potential game changer for political campaigning.
By Carlen Lea Lesser, VP/Director, 2011
In the 2008 election, much was made of the power of the Obama campaign to fundraise via social media. The 2004 elections had proven the power of social media to organize, and in 2008 it showed the power of digital and social for fundraising. Those little text messages, emails, and tweets added up to about $500 million in donations.1
According to the Blue State Digital case study on the campaign, the average online donation was around $80. Social fundraising is now old news. You see every political and non-profit fundraising campaign engaging in the same tactics.
So what will be the game changer for the 2012 election? I believe a tiny little device called Square and other simple mobile payment tools have the potential to create as large a shake-up in digital fundraising as social media did in 2008. Square is a free device that plugs into any iOS or Android smartphone and turns it into a credit card reader. There's also a host of other mobile payment solutions making news these days, such as Google's and PayPal's NFC enhanced mobile wallet. But most of the solutions are too high-tech for political campaigns going door to door. Square fits in a perfect sweet spot for turning legions of campaign volunteers into a credit card-taking machine. The size and simplicity make it easy for any volunteer to carry it and take donations during door-to-door efforts. Since it's just a credit card reader, even the least tech-savvy donor will be able to take advantage of it and feel comfortable doing so.
Implications and Action Items:
With nearly 50% of people between 23 and 45 having smartphones, according to the latest data from Forrester,2
mobile is the new frontier. Mobile payment systems like Square have the potential not only to increase the volume of donors for door-to-door and community fundraising events, but the value of each donation. Additionally, we can also expect if this does take off as a key tool of the campaign that it will increase general consumer comfort with mobile payments.
1 Obama for America Case Study by Blue State Digital http://www.bluestatedigital.com/
2 The State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2011, US. Forrester Research. November 2011.
- Commerce: As tools like Square become mainstream, people will assume that they can shop and pay via their mobile devices. The time to explore how you will enable mobile commerce is now.
- Web: Mobile-optimized sites are a must. Just because you can view websites on smartphones, doesn't mean it's a good experience. This is why so many people just use apps. Take the time to determine what your customers want to see and do online and provide only those services on your mobile site.
- Communications: Like the Web, it's also important to optimize your email communications for mobile devices. Start checking analytics to see how many people are viewing emails on mobile phones and consider simplifying designs to improve the mobile experience.
- Click-through: Ensure if you are using mobile-optimized emails that the destination you direct someone to is also mobile optimized.