How HTML5 is Making Mobile Apps Accessible for Non-profits, Charities, and NGOs

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There is a misconception that creating a mobile app is not viable for the philanthropy sector. We learned, from a fantastic open dialogue on the TechSoup forum on Mobile App vs. Mobile Web (sparked by @inot4profit Twitter discussion), that there are 3 main reasons people don’t feel mobile apps are accessible:

  • Importance of supporting constituents across devices – meaning only needing to create one website vs. having to create multiple apps (for multiple platforms).
  • Expertise required to create a ‘responsive’ website (i.e. one that looks good on mobile phones) is easier and less costly to find than is it to create mobile apps.
  • Updating one website is less time-consuming and tedious than updating (possibly) multiple apps.

This is no longer true. Thanks to advances in technology, such as HTML5, mobile apps are accessible and viable for the philanthropic community!

What is HTML5?

Put simply, HTML is the technology behind just about every web page (it may be a bit of an overstatement, but HTML powers the web!). The latest version, HTML5, added a lot of really powerful and dynamic features focused on giving people a rich experience – including audio and video – so that their browsing experience could parallel the engaging feel of a native app.

Here’s the super cool news: thanks to technology like Cordova, an HTML5 webpage with all its rich and interactive experience can be transformed into an app that anyone can download from the Apple App Store, Google Play or BlackBerry World (and it looks and feels like a native app)!

What Does This Mean for Your Cause?

  1. You no longer need to choose only one mobile platform (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) or develop one-app-at-a-time. Using HTML5, an app can be developed cost effectively once and work just like a native app across all platforms.
  2. You can update all your apps at one-time from one website address AND it’s as easier than updating your website! Thanks to content management systems (CMS), maintaining a website, or an HTML5 mobile app, is just as doable by us non-programmers (that’s me!). 

Are there more web designers out there? Yes. Does that mean there are no realistic (resource-wise) mobile app options for the philanthropic community? NO.

The point is, thanks to technology, this is the age of philanthropy!

Your message is important. If you can’t have both mobile web and mobile app (the ideal situation), your choice should be based on the goals of your cause and needs of your audience. You should NOT have to worry about which option is the viable. Your only worry should be: “Which tool(s) will best help us spread our message, drive engagement, increase donations, and start a dialogue?”