Apple has not always been a forthcoming corporation when it comes to providing outreach for nonprofits and charities. Many lamented the early iterations of the iPhone for not allowing fundraising applications due to $99 fee to have access to the storefront), many nonprofits are finding ways to leverage the iOS platform of the phone without running afoul with Apple’s lawyers. MacLife‘s A.J. Dellinger offers a compendium of eight such apps that use the iPhone’s OS, and we wanted to highlight a few of those apps to give you a sense of the directions developers are marking as they write software for the nonprofit sector.. Indeed, nonprofits were not even allowed to develop apps if any money were expected to change hands. Though policy has not changed (and Apple still demands a
For the kid in all of us
First off, Mobileaze has developed ‘Pay It Forward’ to offer a fun platform to discover where help can be offered. If a local project is not forthcoming, the site suggests light one-off opportunities to do good. As the screenshot (right) suggests, the target audience is probably under 18, but what better time is there to get people to help others? Like most things designed for this demographic, the app emphasizes social connection and rewards participation on a scale made of all those in the network who are acting on the suggestions.
VolunteerMatch is the heavy-hitter in this niche (see screenshot above left). The site has been around for a few years now, and : Organizations register (for a fee) to get word out of the volunteers they need. Individuals register (for free) to search for volunteer opportunities that fit their skill set, time, and geographical location. All that has been mobilized for the smartphone. As with any social network, size matters. VolunteerMatch claims to have linked over 5 million volunteers to projects that last anywhere from an afternoon in a local animal shelter to a long-term relationship with a local health-care provider.
Finally, we wanted to talk about the app for UNICEF USA for the phone, because this app shows how to avoid some of the impositions Apple lawyers put on donations via the store. The free app acts as a kind of catch-all: download the app to get news updates from UNICEF, see ongoing projects, and even play some games related to the work of the organization.
Three ways to give
But in particular, the app concentrates on the Tap Project to bring clean drinking water to impoverished children. One can use the app to find local restaurants that are supporting the project with donations each time a customer mentions it. Moreover, one can make donations to the program, albeit not directly through the app itself (which would mean iTunes skims a notable percentage off the top). Instead, one can send a text message ensuring a donation via one’s cell carrier, or go to one’s PayPal/credit card site to make a donation, or call directly from inside the app (see screenshot left).
Sure, the folks at UNICEF have pockets deeper than most nonprofits to get a software project launched, but each of these apps shows interesting ways developers are trying to engage would-be volunteers and donors with their smartphones. Whether the target audience wants some social-networking fun while looking for a chance to help at school, or wanting to donate hard cash to help provide clean water, nonprofits want to leverage the ubiquity of the iPhone to reach their constituents − and they are finding creative ways to do so.