Mobile phones standing in the way of giving?

Travelling from New York City’s JFK Airport to Sydney, I read a 30 May article in the New York Times called Moved to Give, But Slowed by Phone. The article highlights difficulty charities face with mobile giving despite the fact that donors want to give through the convenience of their phone.

As the Times article points out, we can quickly order a bottle of wine via our phone, yet it is difficult to give to those charities and non-profit organisations who most need it by phone or tablet. As I read the Times article, I realised this is an issue not only for those of us in Australia, but also for Americans. I would have thought the Americans had it figured out by now.

We are not just talking about text-to-give campaigns here. We are talking about the ability for donors to give seamlessly through an app or platform where the contact and credit card details are stored making it easy to draw those donors back to support your charity or other charities time and time again. According to the Times article, Apple has a long-standing ban on in-app donations – a ban, which the Times says is not explained in detail. The Times reports Apple says if your charity wants to collect money, do it by Safari browser or via simple text message. Any app that is used must bounce the donor out to a separate site, using Safari. This, as we know, often causes the NFP to lose the donor because of the fact the donor has to re-key contact details, etc. because he/she is not already registered on the site.

The Times points out a host of issues with in-app giving that need to be dealt with, including who owns the contact details of the donors who give? Additional considerations include:

  • What percentage of the donations to give to charity and what fee will be kept?
  • Which organisations are legitimate and should be allowed to participate?
  • How to make the apps consistent between Apple and Android, etc.?

In Australia, we seem to be ahead of the curve on this one with GiveEasy. GiveEasy brands itself as a unique giving platform that allows charities, causes, and appeals to connect to a new world of mobile and digital giving. After downloading the app, users add account details and this information is securely stored. According to Jeremy Tobias, CEO of GiveEasy, this “allows giving to be almost instantaneous”.

I have given a few donations via GiveEasy on my iPhone and I like the fact that my details are stored from previous donations and, after a few clicks of buttons, I have given to a participating charity of my choice.

GiveEasy also has an SMS donations solution, which is also incredibly user friendly and quick to use both for first time and second time donations. I can testify this to be true as I used the functionality during GivingTuesday last December!

Whatever the solution is, we know people want to respond to the crisis in Nepal, support a charity promoted through a news story, or give to their local place of worship with ease. The Times article offers some very valid points and I am hopeful the likes of Apple and others will see not only a financial benefit, but a human benefit in moving this area light years forward.