A Mobile App Checklist: Is your nonprofit or charity ready for a mobile app?

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The answer is most likely ‘yes’.

I’m serious. It’s not an answer that applies to every nonprofit or charity, but by virtue of the simple fact that you’re reading this article, on this website, the answer is most likely ‘yes’.

With the growth of mobile apps (currently 1.2 billion people use apps and it’s expected to grow by 29.8% each year), it is no surprise that many organizations want to jump aboard and capitalize on the digital savviness of their constituency and donors in order to deepen their relationships.

This is an amazing thing! The trend in the sector towards mobile technology adoption shows just how willing and able the charitable sector is to adapt to the times, engage a younger demographic and continue to ensure their relevance – over 40% of Canadian organizations and almost 50% of American organizations use or plan to use mobile devices to collect funds, and over one third of organizations plan to use at least one mobile technology to fundraise in the next 12 months!

But despite the stats, despite the interest so many organizations have, mobile apps are a tool to an end. Regardless of how powerful that end may be (engagement is the name of the game after all!) – if the tool can’t be used properly it shouldn’t be used at all.

If you or your nonprofit is considering a mobile app, here are some questions you should consider:

  1. Do you have a website? 
    This is key. Let's be clear – if you don’t have a website you aren’t ready for a mobile app (sure, there are exceptions, but 99.99% of the time you must have a website). 
  2. Are you using social media yet?
    Social media is an amazing way to not only engage constituents, but to also allow them to be your voice. Your mobile app should leverage your social media presence to both provide relevant content to your supporters, but to also make it easier for them to spread your message.
  3. Do you put emphasis on providing new content to your supporters/donors frequently?
    I’m not talking about once a month – if you’re not providing new content every day (even if it’s just social media posts) you need to be working towards it. No one can know when your supporter is going to check in with your cause, but when they do it’s your job to ensure they discover some new story, photo, video, newsletter or event – or else you risk losing their engagement.

These three items are imperative. They are your foundation, and the stronger your foundation, the more successful your app will likely to be. If your organization also does additional things, such as creating photos and/or videos, that's even better! Rich photo and video content is key to engaging a younger demographic in world where attention spans are less than 30 seconds. Showcasing your impact in a visual way will greatly enhance the value of your app to those who use it.

If you’re already doing all these things, then your nonprofit is ready for a mobile app.