Today there seems to be an app for everything. Need to keep track of your sleep cycle? There’s an app for that. Need to make sure that your banking is on track? There’s an app for that. Need to remember to text your girlfriend? Apparently there’s an app for that too. Last time I talked about Twitter and how to make your tweets stand out. This time I want to talk not only about what makes apps stand out but also what an app for a nonprofit looks like.
There are several ways for fundraising and making an app is one that is becoming popular. However, there are currently several kinks involved in the process. For example as outlined in The NonProfit Times one of the biggest players involved in the app game Apple, has placed some restrictions on charitable giving and apps. “Since 2010, Apple has banned charitable donations made through apps on its iOS platform, the software that powers iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. Apps can suggest that users donate, and can direct them to the nonprofit’s website, but cannot explicitly say anywhere in the app or its description that some or all proceeds will go to charity.” The article goes on to further note that even if Apple did allow it they current take 30% of payment made on an iOS device. All of this makes it difficult for users to donate by simply pushing a button. They are redirected to a mobile website and must fill out a donation form on the mobile site.
Another issue is that stand alone apps are very expensive. Nonprofits have to fund and build apps for each platform or they may lose valuable donations. Experts estimate a nonprofit should expect to pay at least $30,000 per platform to create a mobile app. Considering many nonprofits choose to use multiple platforms that number adds up very quickly.
So how does a small nonprofit effective use apps? Do they stay out of the game? Use an outside party?
One of the most effective models I found was from the group Charity Dynamics. They help nonprofits come up with an effective plan to fundraise among other services. One of the models that I found most interesting was the work they did for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Through a Facebook app and the Boundless Fundraising iPhone App the Relay for Life raised 180% more and received three times as many gifts when compared to general participants and social sharing generated over 1,200 donations.
The moral of this story? It looks like using a simple donate now button isn’t the best option. Donation apps involve complex systems that may be too expensive for small nonprofits just trying to get off the ground.
Want to hear about what apps are out there for the self starter? Check out my next post!
Comments? Questions? Concerns? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @MollieTranum.