Thinking Outside the Box: Apps for Giving

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 tooLast 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.


Source: Charity Dynamics

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.



More Bang For Your Buck: Making 140 Characters Count

Twitter logoSource: Twitter

If you read my last post I addressed asked some questions about the implications of using social media as a marketing tool when spreading awareness and/or asking for donations and one of the first possible limitations that popped in my mind was the 140 character limit on Twitter. But 140 Characters is a lot you say. Actually its really not. When you include the hashtag, punctuation, and link you are pretty limited. BUT this can be a beautiful thing considering the average twitter users attention span seems to be that of a goldfish.

So the question is how do you get your point across in a concise and clear way without getting buried in someones twitter feed? My friend you have come to the right place.

1. Do use pictures and infographics. Ever heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words? Pictures go a long way in making a tweet stand out and in the case of infographics helps you cheat the system. All this without adding to that magical (or cursed however you choose to look at it) 140 character limit.

2. Do use humor or satire. This one you have to be careful with. Be smart know and your audience. It’s probably not a good idea to make fun of starving children or a political canidate. However, spoofing something like #FirstWorldProblems like in the case of the nonprofit Water is Life helped set them apart.

3. Do use current events. Are you a nonprofit for Breast Cancer Survivors and their Families? Blow up Twitter during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Make a special hashtag. Create a media campaign. A short intense burst of marketing in the right context can help spread awareness more effectively.

4. Do use hashtags. Hashtags are your friend. Not making a hashtag for a your organization or its most current campaign  is like not writing your name on a paper you just turned in. Hashtags are like a brand for what you and others are doing. They are easily identifiable labels that help get the word out and allow you to see what is going on in the Twitterverse.

5. Don’t just post links. While twitter is a great tool for sharing your latest blog post solely post a link is not using your account to its full potential. Highlight a question asked in your blog then link it. Name the topic or where it came from if it isn’t yours. Be sure to mix it up though and write original content on there too.

There you have it folks. This is far from a comprehensive list in fact there are lots of great resources out there.

Questions? Comments? Did I leave something out? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @MollieTranum.



Looking at What I Know: Awareness and Donations

For a class project  I am looking at the implications for social media as related to nonprofits. This blog is a big part of that and as I dig deeper into the social media nonprofit world I hope to give some tools, tips, and realizations for those looking to see what part social media can play in a nonprofit but also as an educational resource for students such as myself.  I will look at some examples of nonprofits as well as the different models out there.

For my first post I want to look at what I already kind of know about social media and nonprofits and that is the awareness/donation method.  As the world moves more and more online many nonprofits are jumping on the band wagon and using social media as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness. This article by The Nonprofit Hub highlights some  excellent use of social media by organizations like the Red Cross, UNICEF, and Water is Life. Most people are very familiar with the first two organizations but may be drawing a blank on the last one. How did this organizations make it on a list with the so called big boys?

With a video like this.

Most people are familiar with the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems and Water is Life capitalized on the already popular phrase in this powerful video. By using Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube Water is Life got out their message and were able to put a link directly to their donation page.

They were able to spread awareness and incite change by using what one Water is Life Representative called a hashtag killer. The Rep goes on to state ““We call it hashtag killer. Not just an attempt to end a hashtag, but to use social media to affect a real change in our world.”

Social media clearly has a strong pull in our world today. The question is to what extent should nonprofits be involved in social media? The organizations listed above had some great campaigns, but what are the long term implications? Does this type of campaign have longevity? Or is it like the medium being used? Limited and always competing for the next big thing.

I love social media and thing it is a great tool but I am interested in exploring both the strengths and limitations of social media in nonprofits.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Let me know in the comment box below or on Twitter @MollieTranum.