You might have read this article in the New York Times this month about how Apple makes it really difficult for nonprofits to collect donations from within iPhone apps and the ensuring kerfulffle from many in the nonprofit and CSR sector, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nonprofit Quarterly, Cause Marketing Forum, and Foundation Center. But the outcry was not limited to the social sector industry in US, we also heard complaints from Australia, UK, and Canada. It has also been covered in the tech trade press, from the cult of the mac to the cult of the android.
One of the biggest objections from Apple is a concern about being liable for fraud and a need for vetting. Bob Ottenhuff from Guidestar agrees: “People want a way to help the causes they care about, and they want to be able to do it easily via their mobile devices. Apple is a leading platform of mobile apps. GuideStar is the premier source of vetting nonprofit information. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
That is if Apple is listening. An online petition over at Care2 and it has almost 8,000 signatures collected so far sending Mr. Jobs at Apple a message to reconsider the policy, but as far as I can tell, Apple has not said a word.
As my nonprofit technology colleagues Peter Campbell, Steve MacLaughlin, and Michelle Murrain point out it isn’t all about iPhone apps, it is about strategic mobile strategy as well as not shutting nonprofits out of a closed system. During the past month, I’ve been hearing from mobile payment system providers and app developers talking about workarounds.
Earlier this month, I wrote a post explaining why I was going to ditch my iPhone. As much as I love my iPhone, I just can’t personally use a phone that is so nonprofit unfriendly. After asking friends and Twitter followers and doing a little phone shopping, I discovered that Google and Microsoft are all ears. On Friday, the Fedex man arrived with two packages from Apple’s competitors. Guess what was inside?
Looks like 2011 is going to be the year where I do a lot more thinking and writing about the convergence of social media, mobile, and nonprofits to better understand what the best practices are for integrating a mobile strategy. It will be interesting to follow how nonprofit develop apps across different platforms in the context of an overall mobile strategy that includes text giving and web sites designed for mobile viewing. I hope to learn from the experts in this area, like Katrin Verclas and others in our sector.