Wednesday, January 21, 2009

iPhone Apps for Nonprofits

"Someone should create an iPhone app that allows you to donate $1.99 to a nonprofit," my husband said the other day over lunch.

"Most people are willing to spend $1.99 on an iPhone application, even if they aren't sure they'll like it, or use it. What if a group of nonprofits got together and created an application where you could donate to one, or all of the groups, each month through your iTunes account?"

Seemed like a good idea to me so I started searching around for nonprofit-related iPhone apps. I was surprised by how few there were. Here's what I came up with:
I sent out a request to my Twitter and Facebook pals for more iPhone apps for nonprofits:
This month's Net2ThinkTank question on NetSquared is, “What do you think will be the big changes, new technologies, hot applications, or successful campaigns of 2009?” I predict that one of them will be iPhone apps for nonprofits. For developers looking for iPhone apps for nonprofits ideas, or projects to get involved with:

  • The Extraordinaries is building an iPhone application to help people find 20-minute volunteer opportunities, and needs volunteers.
  • Social Actions will be launching the Change the Web contest next month where developers will create applications (of all kinds, not just for iPhones) using their database of 20,000 "social actions."
  • Mike Dillon of Dillon Media suggested someone create a, "location-based event finder for donors, non-profits and entrepreneurs. Fundraising parties, trade shows, investment networks, etc."
  • Robert Rosenthal of VolunteerMatch suggested VolunteerMatch for iPhone.
A number of people wrote in just to say that they'd like a list of iPhone apps for nonprofits. What other iPhone apps do you know of that have been created for, or would benefit nonprofits.

What other kinds do you think should be built?

Full disclosure: I know many of the people quoted in this post professional or personally.

Image: Screenshot of Seafood Watch iPhone app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Great list Britt! I was just about to do one of these myself!

  2. What other existing apps or ideas for apps would you add, Alex?

  3. I'd love to see one play off the peer to peer concept for micro finance such as

  4. Hi Britt, great post!

    On the donation front (esp. in tight times) it's great to see sharp minds using their heads for adding up to good (I've always liked the $.99 SMS at rock concerts for Sweet for musicians because it proves the crowd mobilization and power of one. (literally!)

    Something along the lines of a 'where to find' map app, (just like the '' concept for locating public restrooms) only for donor drop off points of goods/matching needs/services (e.g. a cool tool where you could see at a glance who specializes in what via iconic grid marker (e.g. tennis shoes repurposed for rubberized playgrounds, tech toxics/battery drops, career closet/job re-entry, toiletries for hospitality house, etc.)

    Or maybe a 'see what you can do in a day' regionalized service project map (like where you can see at a glance what's going on in the neighborhood on any given day for doable donor hours? --Amy

  5. p.s. Shaping Youth is one of 20 nonprofits involved with a new FB app coming out soon to 'sell something you no longer' need w/the proceeds funding NP org sustainability.

    (I'm also kicking around an iphone app idea that plays into one of our core programs re: food choices, so we'll see what the dev costs are!) Once again, thanks again for the great links...

    I wrote about the fish mobile resources awhile back too: And now am teeming with fresh ideas re-reading your post!

  6. Thanks for all of the ideas Christopher and Amy. Keep 'em coming.

  7. Well done Britt. And to think we are just getting start with the possibilities of what the iPhone and mobile in general could to for non-profits and charities.

  8. Britt, I'm a recent iPhone convert, so this was much appreciated. Another idea I had was for an app that nonprofits could use where folks could sent image/multi-media messages to friends via mobile phones for $1 (in the same way you can send a "gift" image in Facebook)

  9. Great list! I was literally sitting in a restaurant last night thinking I could use the Seafood Watch one.

  10. Here are a few more do-good iPhone apps from Joe Solomon:
    "GoodGuide mobile makes it fast and easy to find safe, healthy, and green products, instantly delivering the information you need, when you need it most — in a store and on the go."
    "Find green and sustainable businesses quickly and easily with 3rdWhale Mobile(TM). The first location based service to find green businesses, 3rdWhale Mobile(TM) helps you make everyday choices to reduce your environmental impact and make a difference! The LBS-enabled service finds everything from yoga centers to bicycle shops to organic local restaurants near you."


  11. just released their API and I can't wait to see what people will do with it. They're a great nonprofit organization!

  12. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Hey, I just came across your blog and wanted to and some info about my new iPhone application if you don't mind. Its called iGuardDog and ten percent of the profits will benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other local animal shelters. My new company, has deceided to pick a charity to benefit for every application that we put out. Please visit the iTunes store and download iGuardDog and help animals in need.

  13. Anonymous8:41 PM

    Apple recently changed it's policy, they say the will no longer allow apps to claim they benefit charities. The concern is Apple may be subject to claims of false advertisement if the app publishers don't donate to charities as claimed.


  14. Michael - I'm excited to see what people create with the Kiva API too!

    Anonymous - If you ever read this, do you have a link to info about Apple's change of policy?

  15. Jamie7:45 PM

    I use MileBugLite when I volunteer. It keeps track of your mileage and calculates the tax deduction based on the charitable activity rate. Easy to use and you can email a great report to yourself whenever. I just sent one to myself for this year's taxes.

  16. Oooh! MileBugLite sounds cool. That would be a great tool for volunteer managers to know about.

  17. Bjorn8:54 AM

    The Toy Lounge of St. Paul MN creates custom iPhone apps for Nonprofit organizations and fundraising. Find them at also offering nonprofit discount for development costs.

  18. Anonymous2:25 PM

    It might not be much, but we are donating 3cents from every download of the iphone app iseedspit to Tuesdays Children. We are also donating a $1.00 from every Baby Wumbler purchased at to the same non profit. We care about giving back and as a start up we are trying. Thank you

  19. If you ever read this, do you have a link to info about Apple's change of policy?

    download movie free

  20. I am writing an app where I would like to donate nearly 100% of the profits to a non-profit. I'm trying to figure out how to allow my purchasers to recognize their purchase as a charitable contribution. Apple seems to have no information on this, which may be why there are so few apps doing this.

  21. John,

    I do not have a link to Apple's change of policy.

    Kevin -

    I don't have information about this for you. I wish I did. Here is one way an app developer got around it:

  22. Anonymous6:59 AM

    Look for app called, "Back Seat Driver". Its a game-helper to fill which helps people avoid speeding tickets.

  23. Hi Britt --

    Wanted to let you know that the nonprofit I work for, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, just released an iPhone App. The free App lets users donate, stay up to date with hunger news, statistics & advocacy alerts - and here's the really cool part - find local volunteer opportunities (since many of our partners don't have the resources to develop their own Apps at this time).

    More info & a direct download link can be found at

    Great list! There are more nonprofits in the App Store than I thought (Monterey Bay Aquarium is particularly nice since I grew up in S.F. & went there a few times). Definitely bookmarking this for when I get an iPod Touch for the holidays :)

  24. Not sure if this has been discussed - but I'm looking into developing an app along these lines. However, right now I'm researching if there's a way around Apple taking a good chunk of the donation. I'd like to put an app together where 100% donated goes to the charity of your choice but as it is I believe apple will take 30%.

  25. Chris- Let us know if you figure it out!

  26. Apple's current policy is that they do not allow Apps that either accept or solicit donations.

    At ASC Software we had created a number of apps that allowed users to perform in-app purchases to donate to a charity of their choice or the current Haiti Earthquake appeal. We had intended to donate all proceeds from the app to the specified charities. We had a call from Apple informing us of their policy and that they do not take a standpoint on the charities and ulitmately the current policy is that Apps that promote or solicit donations are not approved or our applications would not be approved in the store.

  27. Interestingly, they are accepting donations through the iTunes Music Store though

  28. Hi Britt, happy to discover your blog through Beth's Blog - I'm with Appolicious and we now have curated iPhone and Android app lists - Beth Kanter did one yesterday on social good apps:'s list is here:

    We'd love it if people from the social good world created more curated app lists to give more visibility to nonprofits. Curate your own app list here:

  29. Great list! I can't wait until Verizon carries the iphone!

    Can you let your readers know that I will be offering a free webinar on grantseeking next Tuesday, Feb 2nd at 10 PST. They can check out my website for more information.

  30. Please visit once.
    EngageIn is a Social Networking website in which you can send free sms to any part in india. You can find friends, relatives on EngageIn. Youtube Upload. Jukebox and Music Download

  31. Anonymous7:31 AM

    An application that allows you to securely send your address to various organizations means they can add you to their donor base system and reach out to you with future events and other news.
    As I suspect donation are ALWAYS greatly appreciated, yet if we can become life time donors or more involved through volunteer programs our footprint will have a lasting impact.

    The app that allows you to track your mileages to volunteer sites is a great idea.

    How great would it be to have a app that shows the sites in your area looking for a volunteers, then allows you to send a resume or application and then sets up an appointment instantly (does that already exist?). Similar to OPen Table (a dinner reservation app).
    HMMM There are a lot of great ideas out there, my only concern is that the organizations are being left out of the loop because they may not have the connections or awareness of such applications. How can we fund and educate the development offices of the SMALLER NPO's?

  32. I think this post is right on the money! I think we are going to see a new wave of fundraising technology in the next few years, specifically relating to cell phones. People responded so generously to Haiti through text messages and I believe this is definitely a market for nonprofit organizations.
    The iphone could have more of a market if it spread itself across more service providers. With that said, if iPhone picks up on the trend Blackberry and other megastars in the cell phone industry will not want to lose out. I agree with Christopher and would love to see some more microfinance apps. I think that MF is a great way to support other potential business leaders in different parts of the world, all at the ease of a button. (that is if an app was created)
    While I don't have a app to suggest, I'm really enjoying the conversations back and forth. Great idea Britt!

  33. Two app makers that i know about that may be useful - (correct spelling) and

    Both make apps that essentially pick stuff up from your blog. The first one charges about $199, and the second about $25 for the basic offerings.

    Might be worth checking out (i'm not associated with either one btw).

  34. Great List!

    Check out this app

    50% of all proceeds donated to the American Lung Association.

  35. We just launched our app called iPheedANeed.

    - Lisa Goddard
    Online Marketing Director
    Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

  36. Dear Britt,

    Thanks for posting this. I am glad to see so many nonprofits using iPhone apps to help their charitable giving expand in new directions.

    I have a friend who is an iPhone app developer, and he's got tons of great ideas on how to make more fun, addictive apps. His name is Zach Archer, and he would be a good person to talk with about creating an iPhone app for your nonprofit.

    This said, I do think that this article does not address the fact that the majority of the population does not have iPhones. That iPhones are generally the phone of more wealthy people.

    That your donors may be turned off by this, especially in a grassroots organization, should be addressed.

    How about selling ringtones for donations to your nonprofit for people without iPhones? What do you think?

  37. I think more companies should be putting out iphone apps that can really make a difference. With all this new technology we need to find better ways to help each other!


    Apple doesn't play nice with social profits!

  39. WOW. What a simple but effective way of helping people and groups in need. Your husband had a great idea, Britt and so have many others it would seem. Never would have thought of something like this myself.

  40. THis was really helpful. Great list! Any new one out?

  41. FANTASTIC point Anonymous: HMMM There are a lot of great ideas out there, my only concern is that the organizations are being left out of the loop because they may not have the connections or awareness of such applications. How can we fund and educate the development offices of the SMALLER NPO's?

    My NP is looking into developing an app, but we're not sure what to include in it. I was so happy to stumble upon your blog, there's so great resources here!

    Mazarine-is your friend open to helping NPs develop apps?

  42. It is nice apps for nonprofit.

  43. George3:00 PM

    Either way, its nice seeing successful businesses helping out nonprofit software and organizations.

  44. Very fantastic apps thanks for share
    we are Facebook Apps Developer you can check my link below

    Facebook Apps Developer

    IPhone Apps Developer


If you are having trouble commenting, please let me know.