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Fundraising through mobile apps for nonprofits


Late in 2017, Apple lifted a seven-year ban on in-app fundraising1. Up to the ban lift, nonprofits were focused on mobile fundraising strategies that went around the app store, like text-to-give and mobile donation portals. This means the field is ripe for innovation and would welcome engineers and app developers with fresh ideas.

For donors, it’s all about ease of use– 63% of mobile users would rather use an app than visiting a website2. Convenience, speed, and even entertainment value are singled out as the main reasons. Apps also do a better job hosting personalization components than a standard web page. As a result, users spend 3 to 4 times longer in mobile apps than desktop or mobile websites3.

There are several nonprofit areas that stand to benefit from app development:

1 Fundraising

Third-party platforms (Omaze, Facebook Fundraiser, Classy) are favored by nonprofits over developing their own fundraising apps. Going this route means savings from security to server space, in exchange for a processing fee. That being said, there’s still room for innovation in mobile apps for nonprofits.

Take Charity Miles4: Capitalizing on the popularity of activity trackers, the mobile fundraising app helps people donate to their favorite organization while getting exercise. Users choose the nonprofit they want to support and earn money from sponsors for every mile they walk/jog/bike. Or The Samaritan app5, which reveals the story of the homeless individuals you pass daily and gives you the opportunity to help through your mobile.


63% of mobile users would rather use an app than visit a website.

2 Other donations

Unlike fundraising, non-monetary donations can take a variety of forms, and offer a stronger motivation for nonprofits to create their own apps to serve a specific need. A great example is the American Red Cross6: The nonprofit has developed a blood donor app that pushes notifications in case of shortage or if a specific blood type is needed. Another organization using an app to collect and make immediate use of non-monetary donations is FoodFul7. The nonprofit application makes it easier for restaurants and grocery stores to donate provisions to registered charities– food that otherwise would be thrown away. In addition, the app provides donors and recipients with the fastest route to deliver or pick up the food and simplifies the process of writing the donation off for tax purposes.

3 Volunteering

One of the cornerstones of a functioning nonprofit, volunteer work requires proper stewardship and management in order to be effective. Apps can be of extraordinary assistance in this effort. Consider Buengo8: A marketplace app for nonprofits, Buengo recently added a volunteer job board that gets organizations in touch with their user base. Unlike apps that require a purchase, Buengo is free of charge for registered nonprofits. The deceptive simplicity of the app propelled it to the finals of the UN World Summit Award for social impact initiative.

4 Awareness

Granted, awareness has more to do with the mission of the organization than its operation (like the other three), but nonprofit apps are uniquely suited to move the needle in this area. Consider GoodGuide6: This app reveals whether a product is safe, healthy and socially responsible upon scanning the item’s barcode. Users can also customize the application by choosing the issues they care about most.

The opportunities for nonprofit app development are vast and plenty. The stage is set for career starters to make their mark.


(1)    Gazdecki, A. 7 Nonprofits Leveraging Mobile Apps to Further their Cause. Retrieved from
(2)    Blair, I. Why Utilizing Mobile Apps Is a Must for Nonprofits. Retrieved from
(3)    Ruby Garage (2017, September 6th). 8 Reasons Your Ecommerce Store Needs a Mobile App. Retrieved from
(4)    Esquivel, M. The 11 Fundraising Apps Every Nonprofit Should Know. Retrieved from
(5)    Trahant, G. 25 Social Good Apps That Make It Simple To Impact The World Everyday. Retrieved from
(6)    Hibbing Daily Tribune (2019, January 20th). Red Cross Issues Emergency Call for Blood Donors. Retrieved from
(7)    Foodful. Save Your Food Store Money. Retrieved from
(8)    May, M. (2018, October 25th). Charity App Round Up for October 2018. Retrieved from
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