Nonprofit App Development: When & How To Get Started

Nonprofit app development: when and how to get started

Nonprofit App Development: When & How To Get Started

Over the last decade, people have begun to use a variety of different devices to access the internet. With the immense popularity of smartphones and tablets across the globe, many nonprofit organizations are starting to rethink the way they present themselves in the digital world. One great way for nonprofits to broaden their digital presence, and engage their audience more effectively is through the development of a mobile application (or ‘app’). 

A mobile app is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. The ability to connect with your supporters through their personal mobile devices is probably the most powerful benefit of creating a mobile app. When you consider the fact that a smartphone is often within close proximity to its user, and your app effectively utilizes all the capabilities of a mobile device, PCs and laptops can’t even come close to replicating the connectivity that can be achieved with a smartphone or tablet.

But beyond basic connectivity, nonprofits can utilize mobile apps in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to the following:  

Donor/Supporter Acquisition – If your nonprofit is utilizing the Google Ad Grant, or at the very least has a website, you are likely already familiar with how Google’s search engine shows your website to individuals searching for terms relevant to your mission and the content you have on your website. With mobile apps, the process of getting users to install your app is similar, but instead of Google’s search engine, new supporters can find you through the app store. This broadens your reach and can increase your donor and supporter base. 

Data Collection – Mobile applications make it easy to collect user’s data. One easy way to do this is by having new users create a profile when they download your app. This profile can contain as much or as little relevant information as you would prefer. You can also track user behavior on the app, which can allow you to segment your supporters into different groups based on their engagement. 

Promote Fundraising – Push notifications are a great way to remind supporters of events or fundraising activities. Even if someone doesn’t see your notification immediately, they are at least made aware of your fundraiser and can consider making a contribution. 

Volunteer coordination – For organizations with a large volunteer base, using an app as a database for all volunteers can be incredibly helpful. You can use a database to manage communication and coordination, track volunteer hours, house training resources, and so much more. 

From volunteer coordination and communication to community engagement to data collection, mobile apps can be used for a variety of purposes that can help enhance the impact of your nonprofit’s mission. But before diving in, it is important to consider what you want the app to accomplish for your organization, as well as what your organization is willing to spend on app development and maintenance. 

share content and track participation with milkcrate apps
An example of content and event participation tracking through a mobile app from Milkcrate.

As noted in this article, a mobile app can be an incredibly beneficial tool for your organization when utilized effectively. However, once your app has been developed, you should expect it to continue incurring costs for your non-profit. Because an app is a piece of software, every time something changes on a platform’s operating system, your app will have to be updated in order to accommodate it. For this reason, it is important to not only be sure that you know exactly what you want your app to achieve, but also that you can expect a certain return to ensure that your investment is worthwhile.  

If your nonprofit is interested in developing a mobile application, Cause Inspired has partnered with an organization that can help. Milkcrate is an award-winning mobile platform that offers a unique way to create affordable and easy to launch apps for your nonprofits volunteers, students, community members, or human service clients. 

In fact, on average, MilkCrate clients spend less than 1/10 the cost and 1/10 the time of building an app from scratch! Their mission is to help nonprofits run better programs with transparent results by providing the most valuable and cost-effective solution for nonprofit program engagement and participation tracking. 

Not sure if you need an app? Take this free short assessment and find out if an app would be the right choice for your needs.