With the advent of mobile technology and fondness with which we all view our personal electronic devices, it’s only natural that a new and powerful market would emerge: the mobile app market. It seems now that to say that there is an app for everything is becoming less hyperbole and more of an understatement. There’s apps for weather, online shopping, social media, I even have an app that can tell me what song is playing on the radio by using the phone’s microphone. Mobile apps are appealing for a variety of reasons, whether it’s the easy-to-use and straightforward interface of a well-designed app, its functionality, or just how fun and addictive it can sometimes be (let’s not forget about Candy Crush).
However, one sector that is lacking in this mobile app craze is the charity sector. Granted, a lot of the bigger name charities have developed multiple apps, most of them free to download. Just a quick search of UNICEF in Apple’s app store yields 40 results. That being said, to a large extent the app market is still a generally untapped resource with huge potential for charities. It allows an outlet for charities to innovate new and creative ways to get their message out and gain new donors.
Depaul UK: iHobo
Depaul UK developed an app named iHobo that shot to the top of the iTunes download chart just a week after being released. The premise of the app is that you are responsible for caring for a virtual homeless person for a three day period, during which you receive round-the-clock notifications of their needs for food, water, and shelter. How they fare is directly dependent on the user’s response to these notifications, neglect will be harmful and proper attention will be beneficial. At the end of the three days, Depaul UK makes an appeal to the user to donate either £3, £5, or £10. This goes to show that apps can aid to break the mould of conventional fundraising.
Apps can be beneficial for brand recognition, networking, product awareness, or even just for fun. They provide another way for charities to get their name out there and raise awareness, which could potentially lead to later donations. Also, this phenomena could help charities engage with new, younger audiences, which are generally more mobile oriented and could become regular givers later on. However you choose to look at it, the mobile app market provides excellent opportunity for charities to engage with supporters and harness the growing power of the mobile industry.