With Apple’s recent ban on apps that allow direct donations to charities, countless nonprofits are likely scrambling to figure out ways to raise those last few dollars before the end of 2010. I’m willing to venture a bet that, if they don’t already have one, almost every nonprofit organization in the U.S. has considered creating an app as a direct fundraising tool. So why has Apple decided to forego allowing nonprofits to raise money directly through an app? It’s understandable from a business perspective, as Apple doesn’t want to be in the business of verifying charities as legitimate 501c3 organizations nor be responsible for distributing the funds of those that aren’t (not to mention, it doesn’t look great for Apple to be taking their cut from a charitable donation).
But while the app ban does not prevent nonprofits from having apps that direct users to their websites to donate, it does introduce another level of separation in a fast-paced electronic world where people want a one-touch, easy system to make their decisions on everything from purchasing a game or an album, to making friends on Facebook. These apps allowed nonprofits to respond quickly to situations where donations and relief are needed quickly, as evidenced by the trend in mobile and electronic giving following the Haiti earthquake.
A number of nonprofits are showing their anger at Apple’s decision to ban these apps, setting up petitions to reinstate their apps and calling Apple CEO Steve Jobs a “Grinch” to institute a ban so close to one of the most important times of the year for nonprofit fundraisers. Though it’s unlikely to happen, Guidestar has even offered a solution to partner with Apple and vet each nonprofit who creates a donation app.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome on Apple’s end, this has left a hole for nonprofits that Android carriers are likely debating on whether to fill or to follow Apple’s lead. And while it’s unlikely that most people will give up their beloved iPhones or iPads over this issue, it could hurt Apple’s image in the long run.
How do you think this will affect nonprofits at the end of this year and in 2011? What are some ideas to help solve Apple’s issues with verifying a nonprofit’s mission and goals?