Apps for NonProfits
There’s a big opportunity for nonprofits to go mobile
With about 50% of nonprofit website traffic coming from mobile and tablets, it’s easy to see why building a mobile app can be a great idea for a nonprofit’s digital strategy. Nonprofit apps can help target younger generations, who usually use more mobile apps and are more interested in innovative technology. Nonprofits can also leverage apps to help with various business goals, including building a community, organizing volunteers, providing educational resources, managing events, and encouraging participation with incentives.
But with all these options, what would add the most value to your organization? The best way to figure out what kind of app you need for your nonprofit is to lay down your primary goals for your marketing strategy and how a mobile app fits into it. Another good idea is to see what other organizations are doing and how they use apps to reach their objectives. After some research, we’ve come up with various great examples of nonprofits using mobile technology in unique and effective ways.
Examples of NonProfit Apps
Organization: Khan Academy
App: Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy is a nonprofit created in 2008 to be a free educational resource on all subjects for students around the world. Khan Academy Kids is a free mobile app with interactive games and activities for toddlers and young children, designed to teach kids reading, writing, math, problem-solving skills, and motor development in a fun, creative way. The goal of the app is to pique an early interest in learning and engage kids in a fun and educational way.
The games and activities are led by main characters who act as guides through the app and encourage them to think for themselves. Khan Academy Kids received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and was given 5 stars from Common Sense Media, 5 stars Educational Value, and 5 stars Ease of Play. In the app store, Khan Academy Kids has almost entirely 5 star reviews and it’s constantly updating and improving the app.
Organization: Feeding America
App: Feeding America Conferences
Many organizations have conferences and nonprofits are no different. To aid in their conference organization and management, Feeding America has an app specifically designed for those participating in their conferences. The app helps with engagement amongst the Feeding America community, providing conference goers access to onsite guides, agendas, rating tools, and other added benefits for attendees.
As of yet the Feeding America App has no ratings in the iTunes store, but does have 3.7 stars in Google Play. Most seem to like the app, with a functional and easy to understand design. However, considering the app has been available since 2015, there are not many reviews or ratings. To help further design the app, Feeding America could encourage more people to leave detailed reviews on the app, so they can continue to develop to better suit all attendees.
Organization: American Red Cross
App: Blood Donor
The American Red Cross is known for being a global humanitarian organization that provides emergency and disaster relief and preparation. One cause many people participate in to help with blood donations. The Blood Donor app from the American Red Cross allows users to find local blood drives, schedule appointments, track blood donations to delivery, and get geo-targeted alerts about blood shortages. The app even allows you to claim rewards from participating retailers for donating blood or platelets. The app is very effective because it encourages engagement and increasing volunteers to help with one of the most important services of the American Red Cross.
In the iTunes App Store, Blood Donor has 3.7 out of 5 stars and is ranked #28 out of all Medical apps. Many people love the app but it was pointed out that some information is a bit tricky to find due to the many pages contained in the app. For example, finding information about different blood donations, requirements, and general blood donation tips is hard to find, forcing some users to instead use the Internet to search the information. Making this information easier to locate within the app would help encourage more volunteers to use the app in the future.
Organization: World Wildlife Fund
App: WWF Free Rivers
The World Wildlife Fund is one of the most notable nonprofits involved in wildlife conservation and environmentalism. They have several impressive apps, but in 2018 they came out with WWF Free Rivers. This app uses augmented reality to illustrate the impact of rivers on the landscape, as well as on the people and animals present. Letting you explore five different habitats, this app shows users how different practices impact rivers and how to use sustainable development to keep the river and ecosystem healthy. The goal of the app is to encourage learning in environmental science and show users how they can positively impact the environment.
In the iTunes Store this app has 3.8 out of 5 stars and on Google Play a full 5. Many people love the app and praise the innovative idea, but some have suggestions. Since the app is fairly new, it is expected that a few improvements can be made. The main suggestion was to improve camera stability as well as adding more moving creatures, to make the environment more interactive. One user even suggested building on the environment, including adding in cave systems under the surface to explore, or even fossils beneath the water.
Organization: J. Paul Getty Trust
The Getty Center and Getty Villa are a must-see museum in the Los Angeles area. Getty360 was designed to aid in a individual’s visit to the Getty and help them discover things to do. Some features of the app include a calendar with all events, information on new and upcoming art exhibitions, the ability to book tickets for free and paid events, and all practical information for visiting the museum.
The app currently has no reviews on the iTunes store, but after some exploration the app seems to be very straightforward and informational, similar to the Getty’s website. This app is great for locals who regularly visit the Getty, as they are easily able to see the events there and book tickets. The app is also good for those traveling and knowing they will visit the Getty, as they are able to access the app even when not connected to WiFi. To make the app more interactive, the Getty could include added features, like audio guides from the curator about how to visit and what they find interesting.
App in iTunes Store
Organization: The Boy Scouts of America
Everyone knows about the Boy Scouts, but in 2018 they came out with their own app to help foster the organization. Designed for both parents and scouts, the app is meant to encourage participation within the organization by allowing users to track their scouting experience from Lion to Eagle Scout. This app is designed solely for those in the Boy Scouts or those with children in Boy Scouts, as you have to have a log in to access it.
This app has a mix of reviews, which is typical given that the app has only been out for about a year. Many like the idea of the app and the resources it provides, and are also appreciative that the developers are constantly updating it to make it more functional. However, several have pointed out that some information is not synchronized with the Scoutbook and there was trouble with information when you switched from being offline to online, and vice versa. Overall, the recommendations conclude that this app needs to continue to be developed to work out the bugs that still exist.
Organization: Arlington Public Library
App: Arlington Public Library
To keep with innovations and the digital age, many libraries are investing in mobile apps to connect with younger audiences and users. A good example of this is Arlington County in Arlington, Virginia, where the public library system has their own app. The app allows you to search the library catalog, manage multiple library card accounts, book rooms, browse events, and access all library operational information. The app also allows users to use geolocation to find their closest library, access a digital library card, and get push notifications for when holds are ready or books are overdue.
The app currently has 3.4 stars in the iTunes store and 4.8 stars on Google Play. Many love the layout of the app and the added benefits like the digital card and push notifications. However, a big complaint is that to check out a book or put a hold on a book, the app takes you to the website instead of performing the action within the app.
Organization: The Salvation Army
App: The Salvation Army Bellringer
With the holidays having just past, we’ve all seen the Salvation Army bell ringers out and about, encouraging donations during the holiday season. But the Salvation Army designed their own app so everyone can participate in the bell ringing experience. The Bellringer app was designed to raise awareness for those in need while having fun at the same time. The app gives users 12 different bell tones to choose from and the Salvation Army hopes it encourages everyone to contribute to “Doing the Most Good”.
The Salvation Army Bellringer app has 3.4 stars in the Apple Store. This is because people either love or hate this app. From closer examination, most people who dislike the app are complaining it doesn’t make a sound when they ring. While this could be a problem with their phone, it is important for the Salvation Army to continue updates and maintenance to make sure their app is working properly.
App in iTunes Store
Apps for nonprofits: a big opportunity
After all this research regarding nonprofit apps, we can learn a few things. First is that there’s an opportunity for more nonprofits to use mobile experiences to encourage their community to take action. While we did outline a few examples of nonprofit apps in our previous blog post about the reasons a nonprofit should build an app, we wanted to find a bank of more example to illustrate all the used for nonprofit apps. But surprisingly, there were not many well known nonprofits with functional apps. In 2017, 18 to 24 year olds spent 66% of their digital media time using smartphone apps, and this trend is predicted to continue to increase. Going into 2019, it’s more important than ever that nonprofits consider mobile app development to improve their overall digital marketing strategy.
Another important point we learned was how many ways a mobile app can benefit your nonprofit organization. A nonprofit app doesn’t just need to be a copy of your website, telling users who you are and what you do. That’s what your website is for. Nonprofit apps can have so many uses, so think about what your organization needs at the moment or what would your users most likely engage with. Those interested in the World Wildlife Fund often have an interest in learning about animals and the environment, so apps like WWF Free River provide value by giving users a free, interactive source to learn about a topic they find interesting. Those who are active in the American Red Cross are likely to participate in programs like blood drives, so making it easier for donors to participate through the Blood Donor app help increase engagement and keep the Red Cross supplied with necessary blood donations. Even apps for conferences like Feed America’s Conference app just make the running of the nonprofit easier for everyone by giving them the resources they need before they know they need it.
What kind of app is the best for your nonprofit? Do some research, learn about what you’re looking for with your digital marketing strategy, and brainstorm. And we’re here to help! If you’re interested in building an app for your nonprofit, schedule a 15-minute call with us to learn more about how we work with nonprofits, and the nonprofit discounts we can provide.