We have often discussed the roles corporate philanthropy plays both in supporting environmental, social, educational (etc.) causes and in the arguments that corporations should not be preemptively philanthropic as corporations (though even those who PRX, and Beth Kanter seem to be leading the charge, as they have complained since this past summer about Apple’s unwillingness to allow nonprofits to create apps meant to encourage donations. Ms. Kanter has even taken steps to end her iPhone/ATT contract to move to a new phone with the Google Android platform. Will Apple take heed of such switchers?tend to encourage share-holders to be philanthropic). A recent argument has flared up over Apple’s unwillingness to allow the selling of apps for its mobile devices designed to garner and/or collect donations. Jake Shapiro, the CEO of
Mr. Shapiro hopes so. His shout-out to Steve Jobs in his blog, “Where’s Apple’s genius when it comes to supporting nonprofits?” implies that other mobile software developers have already found ways to make donating simple. National Public Radio community). These reasons include Apple’s ‘inability’ to verify all the nonprofits who have applied to have their apps sold via iTunes, and its expectation of taking 30% of any software/information/games sales made via iTunes apps. That’s a fairly hefty chunk out of a donation.includes a walk-through of the many reasons Apple has blocked development of apps that allow direct donations to non-profits (like PRX, a part of the
His conclusions about Apple are certainly sanguine:
I suspect the deeper reasons for Apple’s uncharitable stance is that the nonprofit and education markets are just that—“markets” that represent hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue to Apple in the form of computer, software, iPod, and now iPhone and iPad sales.
There is no financial upside for Apple to enable a direct path for nonprofit and charitable support. And note that there is no “Apple Foundation,” no “Apple Grants.” In fact, Apple has been called out as one of America’s least philanthropic companies. It’s also one that just passed Microsoft’s market capitalization as the most valuable technology company in the world.
But is Apple uniquely un-philanthropic (Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that the company is not anti-philanthropic)? Many commentators have derided corporate philanthropy as a PR stunt. A striking recent example is the way many have challenged BP’s various donations as so much white-wash of the Deepwater Horizon disaster this past spring and summer. Then again, Apple’s engineers and programmers certainly have the ability to create, allow, and verify donations via their mobile technology – if they were asked to do so.
But the fact of the matter is, tens of thousands of people will need to follow Beth Kanter from the iPhone to Android before Apple might feel the need to find a philanthropic spark at Cupertino.