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Q&A with The NYC LGBT Community Center: How to Maximize Mobile App Adoption

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Kay Todd

Product Marketing Manager

Let’s face it, we’re glued to our smartphones. 82% of Americans own a smartphone, spending an average of 324 minutes each day and checking their phone 96 times a day. 90% of those minutes are spent in apps. By 2025, an estimated 72.6% of global smartphone owners will access the internet solely using their smartphones.

Nonprofit fundraisers are no different. They’re looking to their smartphones to manage their fundraising pages, ask their friends and family for donations, gain important information about your organization and event, and communicate with their team members. The New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center brought on the DonorDrive Charity Fundraising app for their 2023 Cycle for the Cause event, giving their fundraisers everything they needed to be successful and saw amazing results.

Cycle for the Cause raised $2.2 million in 2023 — the largest total raised in the 29-year history of the event and a 28% increase over the previous year's total. 22% of fundraisers utilized the mobile app and raised $2,831 more on average than those fundraisers who didn’t use the mobile app.

We spoke to Lisa Lashley, The Center’s Special Events Manager, about their success and how they encourage mobile app adoption with scalable communication strategies. 

Watch this webinar to learn more about how The NYC LGBT Community Center maximizes revenue with mobile fundraising


What is the mission of The Center and Cycle for the Cause?

The Center is the largest LGBT-focused community center on the East Coast. Cycle for the Cause is one of our largest fundraising programs, and the focus of is funding HIV and AIDS services. We provide everything from free HIV testing, referrals for medical care, and support groups. We continue to fight the stigma and help people reimagine what it is to live with HIV or AIDS.

Why did The Center start working with DonorDrive?

Prior to DonorDrive, we struggled to track participant history and couldn't identify returning individuals. This made communication and personalized outreach difficult. The team was using disparate Excel sheets, which created reporting headaches and limited data analysis. Our participants struggled with basic tools needed to increase their fundraising like accessing their donor lists from the previous year.

DonorDrive addressed these issues by centralizing our data and providing powerful reports with valuable insights that allow us to make data-driven decisions. Our participants can easily access what they need to increase fundraising. The support team resolves any issues quickly, and I’m so grateful for their partnership.

How did you increase mobile app adoption?

Step 1: Understand Your Supporters

The first and maybe most important thing to increasing our app adoption was understanding our participants and knowing what makes them tick. Their motivation for participating is a huge part of that. Half of our participants live with HIV or AIDs or have lost a loved one. 61% of our teams are corporate teams and participating with a group of cyclists from their workplace. Our participants are 42 years old on average.

We’ve learned a mobile app isn’t just for younger participants. It’s for everyone.

Step 2: Promote, Promote, Promote

You have to ask somebody to donate six times before they actually take out their wallet and make a donation. I think the same thing goes for app adoption. I'm going to tell my participants as many times as I can. At some point that switch will flip, and they too will download the app. 

Every single thing our fundraisers do during Cycle for the Cause, we’re telling them about the app. It’s at the bottom of every page, our thank you emails after registering, coaching emails, and triggered emails leading up to the event. We don’t let it get in the way of the main content or CTA we have in each message, but we’ve added it to the bottom of these communications as a constant reminder. We encourage participants to download the app in their fundraiser dashboard and our resource center. 

We also have a kick off party and reunion party, and we also include a QR code on our presentation and on each table. That way it’s really accessible, they can scan the QR code, and now they have the app and can do so much with it. 

Step 3: Sell the Value

Our fundraisers who use the app raise $2,800 more on average than those who don’t. We know it’s a powerful tool to increase their fundraising, so we constantly share the value and what our participants can do with the app. 

One particularly popular feature is the personalized QR code. Imagine you're having dinner with friends and you mention a charity bike ride you're training for. With the QR code, you can simply place it on the table and let your friends donate directly if they'd like. It eliminates the pressure of asking for money outright or the awkwardness of handling cash.

The native sharing experience is also great. If I got to share my fundraising page from the app, it’s going to pull up that native sharing screen. It's going to show me Slack, Facebook, text messages, X, and all the ways I’m typically communicating with people. It makes it so easy and shareable.

What’s the one takeaway you want to share with your nonprofit colleagues?

Just do the thing you're thinking about.. Maybe it's promoting your mobile app everywhere you can, maybe it's increasing your minimums, maybe it's starting the newsletter you've always dreamed of. Whatever the thing is that you're thinking about right now, just do it! 

It doesn’t have to be perfect to get started. If you want to put in the work, it'll succeed.


Learn more about the DonorDrive Charity Fundraising App

Not using the DonorDrive Charity Fundraising App yet? Participants who use it increase their total raised!

  • Increase engagement as supporters take critical actions in the mobile app proven to increase their fundraising.
  • Amplify your mission's message with push notifications and an interactive mobile feed.
  • Save your team time by setting up your events for both the web and mobile app within the DonorDrive admin, without duplicating work.

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