Apple May Not Listen, But Google and Microsoft Are All Ears … | Beth's Blog

Apple May Not Listen, But Google and Microsoft Are All Ears …


Almost 8,000 have signed an online petition to urged Steve Jobs to change its iPhone donation policy. To date, there has been no response. Google and Microsoft are all ears.

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 CampbellSteve 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.

16 Responses

  1. Gerald Shields says:

    Ok, so I don’t see the point here. If you want to give to charity, why would you need a phone to do so?

  2. Kevin says:

    I can understand the need for a phone but not a purpose built app. Can’t you just call or visit a web site. Why would I want an app on my phone all the time so I can donate once or even occasionally?

  3. Louis Wheeler says:

    People will obsess about the strangest things, Gerald. I guess it is one of the attributes of freedom, that there is a wide diversity of opinions. At least, it got her some blog hits over the holidays.

    If she wants to exclude herself from Apple products, then fine. But, this seems like a poor reason. The rest of us won’t miss her.

  4. Jbelkin says:

    I applaud apple from protecting us from scanners posing as charities … I know what charities I want to donate to – don’t need a phone to do it. Of course ms or google don’t careif u get scammed, that’s their normal courseof action of not caring for their consumers.

  5. Rekha says:

    Gerald, Kevin, Louis, Jbelkin,

    An iPhone app I manage is a great example and answer to some of your questions. The Public Radio Player has 500 public radio station streams and thousands of on-demand programs. Each public radio station has its own page in the app.

    People ask us regularly why they can’t tap to donate to the stations they listen to most. With well over 2 million unique downloads, that question starts to matter.

    I’d like to think at least some Player fans make the effort to call the station or visit their website later. But Missionfish’s Clam Lorenz says what every user experience designer — and nonprofit development person — knows: “In my ten-plus years of experience working in the nonprofit world, I’ve learned that ease of use is everything. Every click you add to the process knocks a percentage of people out of the equation.” In other words, nothing beats tapping once to donate using your credit card iTunes has on file.

    Glad some of you sound pretty motivated to donate, but don’t assume everyone’s like you.

    So, the Public Radio Player isn’t a purpose built app. It’s an app with a lot of value for its users and is in a great position to support the stations whose content fuels its success.

    As for authenticating nonprofits so you don’t get scammed, this nut has been cracked. Apple doesn’t need to do this – PayPal has done it, Guidestar has done it, and I believe MissionFish as well.

  6. Gerald Shields says:

    Still aren’t feeling this at all. Worse, I’ve seen nicely designed workarounds. Take the Democratic Party’s iOS app: It has a “donate” button that launches a special mobile safari (iOS’s web browser) donation web page with everything you need to waste your money (Donation amount, Credit Card Type, etc.). Even the Republican Party can do this and they will get accepted by Apple. In other words, this online blog/rant in pure nonsense.

    Non-profits: Just hire someone or a company that can make a app that can do this, whether it be for iOS, Android or whatever smart phone.

  7. Al says:

    So, Beth, there is an iPhone solution that your favorite political party uses to get money from their iPhone toting faithful.

    Seems to me you could get access to their App builders and then be able to solve the world’s problems on the backs of iPhone users after all.

    Apple is just avoiding yet another lawsuit. Scammers are unscrupulous. The web is where they all belong.

  8. Tom Waits says:

    So are you saying that you’re happy to be bribed by organisations giving you free products? What are we to infer from Google and Microsoft sending you phones?

    I don’t understand why you didn’t send Steve Jobs at Apple an email or at least contact their customer relations department, rather than saying “as far as I can tell …” – what does that even mean? Did you even try to contact anyone to discuss the issue? Has the petition been sent to Apple?

    It’s no wonder Google and Microsoft jumped all over you – you seem naive in the extreme.

    Best wishes.

  9. Beth says:

    @Tom I sent Jobs an email along with 8000 other people who signed the petition. The reporters from the NY Times and various other publications that have written about this issue have called Apple and there was “no comment.” There’s been no comments on any of the blog posts ..

  10. Patrick says:

    But Google and Microsoft phones use materials from known conflict zones in Africa. Sure, go ahead and use Google and Microsoft phones, but that’s like putting a gun to the head of an African child and pulling the trigger.

  11. Mags says:

    It’s shocking to think that there are over 250,000 apps for the most inane useless things yet people are up in arms about something that would allow mobile donations on a particular device? Seriously, given the nature of many not for profits and in particularly ones that need to mobilize in crisis situations, it is imperative that networks, vendors, technology designers, work collaboratively to ensure that resources are put in place to allow the most effective, secure, and easily accessed platforms for donations.

  12. Geri Stengel says:

    Chill, folks! This isn’t about bribery, as someone said, or Google and Microsoft not caring if customers get scammed. It’s about adopting and adapting the technology the next generation of donors who will be prone to using. It’s about nonprofits trying to keep up with change and support their missions. The issue is not whether Apple should take on liability for donations but how Apple could apply its vast intellectual resources to develop a solution that would help nonprofits, protect consumers, and not skim 30 percent off the top of donations to support the system. As to dropping her iPhone, Beth is merely exercising the age-old right to use products that she respects and that support her values.

  13. […] the Non-Profit industry have called for a ban on using the iPhone until Apple changes its policy. Beth Kanter has been particularly vocal on boycotting the […]

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  15. […] A Smartphone for Each Hand Image by cambodia4kidsorg While Apple has not listened to my complaints about its iPhone in app donation policy, Google and Microsoft are all ears. I received a Windows 7 phone from Microsoft and Nexus S Android phone from Google. Now I have a Smartphone for each hand and will be exploring best practices in nonprofits, social media, and mobile during the next year. […]

  16. […] A Smartphone for Each Hand Image by cambodia4kidsorg While Apple has not listened to my complaints about its iPhone in app donation policy, Google and Microsoft are all ears. I received a Windows 7 phone from Microsoft and Nexus S Android phone from Google. Now I have a Smartphone for each hand and will be exploring best practices in nonprofits, social media, and mobile during the next year. […]

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