Seven Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Innovate With WhatsApp

Poesy Chen

By Poesy Chen, Innovation Director

Released in 2009, WhatsApp is an American freeware, cross-platform centralized instant messaging and voice-over-IP service owned by Facebook, Inc. It’s the go-to messaging app for over two billion consumers worldwide (as of May 2021). Here are seven reasons why non-profits should innovate with WhatsApp and include it in their social outreach and technology strategy.

1. Go Where the People Are

Take a look at your phone and see how many different applications there are. Too many! Every website wants you to create an account and log in. Every vendor wants you to download and install their app. The results of this type of engagement and adoption strategy are often poor because these platforms usually cannot reach the critical mass required to achieve viral-like success.

So, go where the people are already!

WhatsApp is available in more than 180 countries and 60 different languages.

According to Business Insider, the four countries with the largest WhatsApp user base (India, Brazil, the US and Indonesia) added a combined 75.4 million new monthly active users between August 2019 and August 2020. According the Pew Research Center, almost half (49%) of Hispanics use the app. Adoption roadblocks such as sign-ups and app downloads are non-issues when people already use WhatsApp.

2. Go Where Groups Are

What happens when your family and friends recommend a movie or a television show to you? There is probably a much higher chance you will watch it, correct? The same applies to digital services and digital content.

WhatsApp is often used for private messaging between friends, family, and local organizations. It allows for the creation of a community. When your service or message impresses one person in the group, it is likely that the entire group will act on that person’s recommendation.

3. Trust is High - No Spam

I frequently receive annoying spam phone calls and SMS text messages because there is no oversight by the carriers. On the other hand, WhatsApp and Facebook have strict business verification and ongoing monitoring processes in place to help detect spammers and protect consumers.

WhatsApp reviews and approves its message templates. Content is scored by engagement and quality is scored continuously. Additionally, the number of bulk messages that can be sent is only increased over time based on those scores. Once organizations learn how to work with these processes, the safeguards that are in place will serve to protect their brand identity and value, as well as help build trust with their clients.

4. Seamless Outreach – Their Numbers Don’t Change

Maintaining current contact information for clients is an important part of any organization’s client engagement strategy. Refugees and migrants change their cell phone numbers frequently as they move from place to place, which means the precious contact data you have may become outdated quickly.

Phone numbers change, but WhatsApp numbers often stay the same. Spend the time to engage your clients over WhatsApp to improve your data quality and to truly provide borderless service wherever your clients may be.

5. Great Flexibility and Cheaper for Clients

WhatsApp is available for iPhone, Android, Windows, and Mac users. SMS messaging uses up expensive mobile data rates, while WhatsApp messages are sent without any charges to any part of the world provided Wi-Fi is available on the mobile devices. Additionally, using WhatsApp to conduct business or obtain services is much cheaper than using regular text messaging. Your clients will appreciate the savings.

6. Mature Platform with Lots of No-code Automation Options

If you think you need a full-blown IT department to develop a WhatsApp service or to use WhatsApp to engage your clients, well, you don’t. There are lots of low-cost and no-code WhatsApp service platforms that are available to help you reach your clients on WhatsApp. Many of these platforms also integrate with your client management solution automatically.

Start small, get feedback, and grow your WhatsApp service over time.  

There will be growing pains, but you will be surprised at how quickly and impactful WhatsApp can amplify your reach.

7. Work with a technology/innovation broker

So, how do you get started? How do you select vendors? What are the dos and don’ts?  What about integration? What about data security? What about…The list goes on. It may be intimidating to get started at first. That’s why Mobile Pathways plays the role of technology and innovation broker to help you navigate through the early hurdles.

We see similar client outreach needs and similar technology roadblocks. Trust us, we ran into the same issues too. Why not benefit from all that we have learned? What if the same solution we used can work for you? We have the philosophy that even just two organizations can use the same solution, and that is reason enough for us to help.

If we can connect organizations with similar needs and learn from each other, that is reason enough for us to step in and coordinate.

There is efficiency in sharing, there is amplification when we do things in sync and together.

Consider working with a technology or innovation broker like Mobile Pathways to help build your WhatsApp solution quickly, and help contribute to our overall success.