Going Mobile: Innovative Apps For Nonprofits
By last count, some 60% of Americans carry smartphones, enough that most are dropping the “smart” and just referring to them as “phones.” Smartphones are the new norm, and more and more of our interaction with technology happens through our mobile devices every day. Like the rise of the web a decade and a half ago, the rise of mobile presents questions and opportunities for nonprofits. How much fundraising potential does mobile hold for your nonprofit? Should your organization build a mobile website, or even an app?
The First Steps to Going Mobile
There are a few things that every organization, no matter the size, should prioritize: a website that looks great on any size screen, and email messages optimized for reading on mobile phones, for example. Email still brings in about one-third of nonprofits’ online-fundraising revenue, which means that as more people access their email exclusively on their mobile phones, optimizing those messages for a small screen should be top priority.
Luckily, there are already a variety of great mobile apps for nonprofits to take advantage of.
Check In For Good
Described by Mashable as “Foursquare with a humanitarian twist,” Check In For Good lets your supporters give to your organization for free, simply by checking in at local businesses who have partnered with your organization. As consumers become increasingly sophisticated and socially conscious, businesses of every size are eager to align themselves with resonant charitable causes.
Effectively, Check In For Good enables nonprofits and private companies to partner with each other. Businesses donate to nonprofits on behalf of their customers, receiving more exposure and advertising through the app in return. The app charges a minimal per-donation fee for processing, making it cost-effective for nonprofits, and companies, of all sizes.
Check In For Good can be a great way for your organization to expand your audience and potential supporter base, and build lasting partnerships with local businesses. Take a look at the app’s page for nonprofits to learn how you can get your organization involved.
In 2013, Google’s non-profit arm, Google.org, released its first non-profit app. Called One Today, the apps uses Google’s status as a trusted gatekeeper to introduce the social experience to charitable donations. To solve a common anxiety that one’s donation won’t go very far, Google acts as intermediary, vetting non-profits so that users can feel comfortable about their donations. When a nonprofit is featured as the group of the day, an option to donate is sent out to all One Today’s users. Donations can start at just one dollar, making it One Today easy, low-commitment daily choice for donors that can really add up over time.
Google also incorporate a social element into the app. You can see what nonprofits are popular with your friends, and Google makes it easy to match their donations. One Today has received high ratings for usability, too, with TechCrunch calling it “extremely polished and well thought out.” Google is bringing their name to the task of revolutionizing nonprofit giving, and if anyone can do it, it’s Google. Time will tell what effect participation in One Today will have on SEO for your nonprofit, and how much money there is to be raised through mobile. Nonprofits can register at One Today for free, giving them access to a huge audience. Available for iPhone and Android, your nonprofit should sign up. You can join here.
Available for iOS, the well-respected Volunteer Match has launched an app that helps prospective volunteers find your organization from their mobile device. Anyone interested in volunteering can use their location to find opportunities nearby, and it’s easy for organizations to request volunteers. Basic membership is free, but for only $75 per year, a “Community Leader” membership might be worth it if your organization really depends on driving volunteership. To find out how your nonprofit can start listing volunteer opportunities, take a look at Volunteer Match’s nonprofit page.
Your Own App?
Some nonprofits have built awesome mobile apps to drive engagement with their organization. The American Red Cross leads the way in this respect, with an assortment of apps, each designed to offer help and advice in emergency situations. They offer everything from an Earthquake App to a Pet First Aid App, so there’s something for everyone.
Things to Consider Before Getting In the App Game
If your organization does decide to build an app, make sure the app holds some value, or performs a specific function, for the user, like the Red Cross and Audobon apps do. The Red Cross apps provide potentially life-saving information, and the Audobon app gives bird-watchers a chance to interact with each other and contribute to a fun project that also furthers to the organization’s mission.
Remember to keep it simple, as well. An app that performs one or two tasks very well is likely to be more successful than an app that tries to do too many things and fails. Building an app might not be the best choice for most organizations, so consider carefully whether you’re better off partnering with one of the great apps already out there, like the ones listed above.
How is your nonprofit adapting to the rise of mobile? Have you invested in a mobile site, a responsive web design, or even built your own app? Have you had success partnering with third party apps like One Today and Check In For Good?