5 Minute Interview

Five Minute Interview: Anthony Jones of Ducks Unlimited

Creating a mobile engagement strategy for your nonprofit


Anthony is the Web Director at Ducks Unlimited, which received the Web Marketing Association’s award for Top Nonprofit Mobile Website 2013—and is on its way to hit a major milestone in 2014.

We met at NTEN’s NTC’14, held in Washington, DC, where more than 2000 nonprofit techies converged to share ideas on how to harness new innovations for the greater good.

Many of organizations participating in the annual conference (NTC’14) were interested in learning how to develop a mobile strategy, among other initiatives. Ducks Unlimited offers a unique perspective from which we can learn as their traffic has relatively high mobile traffic:

  • 55% of all website traffic is coming from mobile
  • 25% of all online gifts are coming from mobile


Jones attributes this high level of mobile traffic  to their large Facebook  following. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for some strategic inspiration. They have more than 860,000 likes and are hoping to mark the 1 Millionth by year’s end with some great fanfare.


Anthony was happy to share his perspective and advice on how others can ramp up their mobile site with these tips:

Develop a Strategy

DU creates a business plan that includes a rolling, 5-year strategic plan which starts at the board level and works downward.  Having such a plan is key in making sure that objectives are consistent and all are working toward the same goals.  Further, it makes getting management or board buy-in more simple when you can present the item and show how it works within the plan to achieve the objectives.

If your organization doesn’t have such a plan in place, it’s crucial that, at the very least, a basic plan is established that includes measurable goals.

A well thought out strategy, including goal-setting, goes a long way toward building trust internally, which is helpful in getting approval for future initiatives.

Develop Trust

Fortunately for Jones and his team, they had already developed a great amount of trust internally having launched the first mobile app back in 2010 and received more than 300,000 downloads across all of their apps.  This provided proof that there was a demand, making further development easier to justify.

Very importantly, Jones cautions, “Be transparent!” This is part of developing trust.  Don’t’ be afraid to report the bad as well as the good.  For example, reporting that everything is going well and not reporting any real issues until deadline will prove disastrous.  Trying to explain the issues that weren’t reported, after the fact, will seem more like excuses.  That simply will not foster the level of trust you need and that type of negative experience will certainly be remembered the next time your team is looking for management or board buy-in.

Get Feedback and Engage

Jones strongly encourages getting feedback. It is not only critical for success, but offers other benefits. He suggests having brainstorming sessions and involving volunteers and board members.

In addition to getting additional ideas and perspectives, it’s a great way to engage these teams and develop a deeper relationship with them.  It also gives them a sense of being a stakeholder and inspires to participate more fully.



Our interview was focused on the technology aspect of DU’s site, and Jones offered fabulous advice on how to implement that side of it.  But, to take one step further, I looked at both DU’s mobile site and Apps from a marketing perspective and I’d like to offer another tip that has been clearly executed by the organization-and needs to be a tenet of anyone trying to develop non or for-profit business today: Make Apps useful to your users or no one will App-ly them!

Take a look at their site and the Apps they offer. Each App serves a purpose for the user. This is critical if your group wants to increase engagement.  They created Apps that help their members with their primary interests:  waterfowl and wetlands.

Of course, they want them to become members and make donations online— but DU offers Apps that are useful to the user and not just a “donate” button.