Just before Apple‘s iPad first launched in early April, the MKCREATIVE blog presented a two-part discussion of how the device specifically and the advent of a truly functioning tablet market/community generally should be taken seriously by the nonprofit community. The iPad’s convenience as a communications tool, we argued, meant that nonprofits and mission-based companies could, and should, take steps to ramp up their social-media presence in an effort to reach out to early adapters. And the simplicity and robustness of Apple design (both hardware and software), we believed, guaranteed that early adapters would be able to convince even those not quite sure they were ready to make the jump to a touch-screen/in-the-purse-or-bookbag experience. Well, just 28 days and, oh, one million iPads later, folks across the aforementioned community are making use of the opportunities the technology presents.
A great summation of recent developments (now some 40+ days in and a few more tens of thousands of iPads at people’s fingertips) was posted by Beth Kanter at SocialBright.org, a blogger whose rich work we have drawn upon before. In this case, she speaks on the iPad as a ‘lean-back medium’ (an idea developed at ) that allows media consumers to absorb at their pace, and to consider or link or get involved as they wish. Traditionally, ‘the web’ is a lean-forward medium that requires us to tap, to click, to close the d@*^ pop-up window again, etc. The iPad, Rue posits, is a way by which Apple might bring a ‘lean-forward’ medium to a ‘lean-back’ audience. For nonprofits, we believe the notable advantage is that you can engage your constituents with the social media you should already be leveraging, but tablets might encourage your constituents to absorb a bit more than they otherwise would just because a tweet or e-mail blast came through.
One such enterprise application under development that nonprofits need to keep an eye on is Blackbaud’s projects targeting fundraising groups and their organizational and project-management needs. We thought it worth posting one of the introductory videos here to tempt you:
Beth Kanter’s enthusiasm for her own use of the devise is wisely tempered by the fact that nonprofits are not always on the bleeding edge of technology, and they do not need to be.
Amid the hype around the iPad and apps, there will be lots of potential ways that nonprofits could use iPad apps to support their missions – from engagement, fundraising, enterprise and program delivery as well as more widespread adoption by users. Right now, nonprofits should recognize that we’re still in the early stages and there’s no compelling rush to get seduced by shiny object syndrome.
But she also notes (and we must blow our own horn here, as we said the same thing in March) that the market will only grow. And with it the shifting expectations of touch-screen and true-laptop media experiences. Nonprofits should already be thinking of how, for example, the next iterations of their websites should be tablet-friendly (For the code-jockeys out there, that might mean abandonment of Flash for ). Smaller steps now will make for bigger strides as the nonprofit community and its growing constituents evolve with the iPad and its coming competitors.