Apple makes it really difficult for nonprofits to collect donations from within iPhone apps and we all want them to get it right. As the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Quarterly reported last week, Apple’s policy has raised the ire of some nonprofits leaders. We’ve started an online petition at Care2 and it has almost 6,000 signatures collected so far sending Mr. Jobs at Apple a message.
Alyson Kapin over at Froggy Loop Blog wrote a post, “Tell Steve Jobs: Don’t Be A Bad Apple” where Dan Moore, Vice President of Nonprofit Programs at Guidestar says, “Apple has been at the forefront of problem solving in the past, and this is just one more problem for them to tackle in style.”
The trade press has been less polite. I wasn’t surprised to see that the Droid Guy picked up on the Steve Jobs is a Grinch theme. I was surprised to see my photo-shopped creative commons image in PC World along with this article. Other people invoked Scrooge, including Cult of the Mac writer Lonnie Lazar who published this piece “Donations Ban Puts Jobs in Role of Scrooge.”
Amidst the flak that Apple is taking because of its Grinch-like policy to nonprofits about in-app donation policy, my nonprofit technology colleague, Steve MacLaughlin, has written an thoughtful post about how nonprofits and Apple need to get in-app donations right.
Steve is right that effective online fundraising isn’t just about iPhone apps for a nonprofit’s mobile giving strategy – there are other mobile tactics to consider – mobile content for web sites, text giving, other mobile phone platform apps, and more. And, of course, mobile is one channel and we all know that multi-channel fundraising campaigns are the most effective. But iPhone apps are a big part of the landscape right now, so it’s short-sighted to write them off completely for all nonprofits, or to let Apple write them off for the nonprofit sector.
He tees up the issues that Apple needs to consider to create a policy that spurs innovative ways to donate to nonprofits through mobile platforms like the iPhone (and iPad).
All of Steve’s points are good ones. But, in order to “get it right,” Apple needs to be willing to listen and respond to people in the nonprofit sector. Right now it is difficult to determine whether this issue is even on Apple’s radar or priority list. In an ideal world, they would be that they gather up group of people from the nonprofit industry, listen to their views on the topic, and work mutually together on a solution that is a win-win for our sector and maybe even a cornerstone of a CSR strategy. Now, that would be being a good corporate citizen.
Getting it right means listening and responding to concerns, challenges, and needs in the nonprofit sector – they’re not doing that
– and unless enough people agitate to get their attention, with a follow up of a dialogue. It’s up to Apple ….