It’s hard to believe that we’d never heard of apps little over a decade ago. The technology took off in a big way when invented in 2008. Whole new industries were created and existing ones were transformed. However, the non-profit sector has been relatively slow to adopt apps.
That’s to its detriment. Over 80% of time spent on mobile is now spent on apps. But non-profits still seem to rely on the old methods of physical fundraising and sponsorship. Some have created an online presence in the form of a website and social media accounts; yet not many have taken the next step in creating a dedicated mobile app.
The Rising Use of Mobile Apps
In fact, 75% of charities don’t offer apps that can take donations. That’s despite almost half of consumers stating that they have made a donation via a mobile device in the last year. 65% of people surveyed also used their smartphones to regularly pay for goods and services. Sending money and paying for stuff via a mobile is a normal transaction for many people.
Apps Offer a Huge Opportunity for Nonprofits
There’s clearly a huge opportunity for non-profits to use apps to engage with consumers. Especially if you’re targeting Millennials and Generation Z. These generations have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They are digital natives. Giving to charity through an app comes more naturally to them compared with older generations. Research has shown that 25% of people aged 25-34 years have donated through their mobiles at least once a week.
Nonprofits that develop apps to interact with consumers now, will build a loyal, long-term user base in the future. Indeed, 94% of people surveyed stated that they believed nonprofits need to develop apps in order to remain relevant in the future. 66% of the same people would say that they’d use a mobile app if it made donating easy. Especially if they could collect points and earn badges.
Nonprofits Successfully Using Apps
Some nonprofits are pioneering mobile app use in the industry. One of the most well-known initiatives is Share the Meal. This app was launched by the UN’s World Food Program. With just a tap, people could donate $0.50 to the organization to feed a child for one day. So far over 23 million meals have been shared.
Oxfam has been using apps to engage more with its donors. Often, when people make a donation, they want to make a connection with the charity as well. So, whilst it’s important to make it easy to donate via an app, your job isn’t finished once people have donated. The My Oxfam tells users how their money is being spent. It allows people to control their monthly donations or make instant one-off donations. In doing so, it doesn’t just keep people informed. It builds trusts and increases the brand’s reputation.
How to Create Your Own Mobile App
Creating your own mobile app doesn’t have to be difficult. Many non-profits might be put off by the prospect of hiring an entire app development team. However, there are many platforms out there that allow you to build apps with little-to-no coding skills.
No matter the route you take, you should bear a few things in mind when building an app for your non-profit:
Make it easy to use: You don’t want to frustrate users as they’ll stop interacting with your app. Make it easy to use, navigate, and to donate. Even better if you make it possible for people to donate on-the-go.
Make it engaging: Apps offer nonprofits the ability to reach their donors wherever they are. Use this to your advantage by constantly refreshing content and sending push notifications where appropriate. Offering a points system can also keep some people engaged.
Tell people where their donations are going: People want to see the good work that their donations are leading to. Apps provide a great opportunity to provide updates on your non-profit’s work.
Make it secure: People won’t donate if they don’t feel like their financial details are secure.
Market it on other channels: Your app shouldn’t exist in a bubble. Launch it on your other marketing channels and consider how it fits into your wider marketing strategy. Share it on your social media, talk about it in your marketing emails, and display it on your website.
You Don’t Have to Make Your Own
Of course, you don’t have to create your own app. There are plenty of third-party apps available that non-profits can use to get donations. Vero recently launched a donation service for its app users called Donate Now. So far, it has partnered with Children with Cancer UK, as well as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and amfAR. It allows people to donate to these charities through card payments or ApplePay. There are no fees for these transactions.
There’s also Charity Miles, an app that donates on a person’s behalf for every mile that they walk, cycle, or run.
Another app of note is Snap Donate. People can take a photo of a charity logo to make a quick one-off donation. If the logo cannot be identified, then there’s a database of 13,000 other charities that users can choose from. There’s no fees in the transactions and the app works in areas of low Internet connectivity.
The Time is Ripe for Mobile Apps
With mobile use on the rise, failing to explore apps for your non-profit is a short sighted approach. If you want your non-profit to survive in the long run, you need to look at app technology.
Apps offered an unparalleled opportunity to build a community of donors and share your mission. Building an app doesn’t have to involve teams of developers. There’s many app building platforms that are easy-to-use, or third-party apps that can take donations on your behalf. The majority of your donors are online. Your nonprofit should be, too. An app can take your digital presence to the next level. Try them now. There’s nothing to lose, but potentially a lot to gain.