This post was originally published on our partner site, Third Sector Today

Think about these 9 things before joining a fundraising app.

There’s no denying the mobile transformation of every sector of the nonprofit space. Your supporters have mobile phones and if you ask them to give through their phone 62% of millennials say they will–and yet 47% say the reason they haven’t given is they haven’t been asked.

So as your nonprofit readies itself to go mobile you will find many paths to choose from. One of them, becoming part of a third party app, may seem like the easy way to join in the app hype and frenzy but as you’ll read below there are some vital things to consider before you join a third party app to take your nonprofit mobile.

1. Discoverability and loyalty

Chief among the gripes from app creators is getting discovered in a sea of applications. Coincidentally there are 1.2M apps in the iTunes store and just about the same number of nonprofits in the US, 1.4M. And herein lies the problem-if your nonprofit is part of a third party fundraising app, how do you get discovered?

Sure, one can search for your nonprofit but this takes time and if there are similar names in the app alongside you the donor may give to someone else. This points out the loyalty issue. While searching for you your donor-to-be sees an interesting name of another nonprofit and changes their mind about giving to you.

Would you present some other nonprofit’s donation button next to yours on your website? I didn’t think so.

2. Lack of integration into your existing channels especially email and social

How do you integrate the third party app into your communication? I may be wrong but the only way you can has to lead with “Download the app and then search for us and then make a donation.” Kind of long-winded right? You risk what happens above if you do this.

With your communication being purposely designed to spur action right then and there asking a supporter to go get an app dilutes your message greatly. With dilution of the message comes contemplation by the donor and contemplation invites giving up on the impulse and a lost donation.

By far the best way to maximize the potential of social media as giving channel is to not use an app but to use a URL which leads to a mobile-optimized giving page. This practice facilitates the pursuit of the donor’s impulse much better than a fundraising app.

3. Maybe no donor data? No CRM integration?

I experienced a third party app which launched recently and the app gave the donor the ability to include no information about themselves be sent to the nonprofit. If a growing donor base is the lifeblood of a nonprofit this option for the donor goes the wrong direction.

Additionally, how do you thank this donor through a fundraising app? Ya can’t.

4. How do you get them to open the app? Keep the app?

According to the Localytics blog 23% of iOS apps are opened only once. Again, if your communication with donors is to spur them to give you have to tell them to open the third party app. For those without the app you need to tell them to get the app and the drawbacks listed herein start to apply. Because every phone has a browser you are way better off with a link to tap on versus getting them to leave your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed because your supporters live on social media and asking them to exit is considered somewhat of a foul.

I had the pain of moving operating systems more than once (Blackberry to Android to Apple) and at each swap I made decisions about what apps I put back on my phone. Do you want to run the risk of being in app that doesn’t make the cut when a donor decides what to keep?

I also know people that have de-apped their phone out of a sense of app overload. In an opinion piece at Mashable from last year the author noted 165 apps on his iPhone and estimated that 91% were never used. If you’re in an app that gets deleted now what?

5. Malware

In April of this year researchers at Webroot found only 1% of apps to be “trustworthy” and found 10% to be outright malicious. Pointing out malware as a third party app drawback isn’t meant to say that third party fundraising apps are bad but you have to be very wary of the creator and their use of data collected from the donors phone.

After all, trusting your brand to a firm that does not follow and maintain the highest security for their app means your brand is only as good as they are.

6. Apps crash

I think we’ve all suffered this one-an app that crashes for whatever reason and again, like the malware issue above, crash-prone apps or ones with very poor experiences are not a place for your valued brand. In September 2013 testing firm uTest warned iPhone owners that iOS 7 would crash their apps. For apps that crash and need updating you have to pray for the donor to get the update. They might just delete the app if it does crash.

7. Does not solve Google SEO issue

With Google now crawling over your primary domain URL with their mobile-bot to see what experience you give mobile visitors all nonprofits need a mobile-optimized version of their primary domain URL or risk purposeful search rank demotion.

Simply put, no app can solve for this. Ever.

8. Won’t capture lost donations from mobile visitors to your domain

Let’s say that a potential donor searches for you, finds you and makes it to your Donate button. Because 84% of nonprofits rely on their PC donation experience for mobile visitors the chance of a donation drops off a cliff because your PC form is too hard to complete on a phone. With a responsive design giving experience on your PC site, you dramatically improve the chance for a donation because the form presented has been optimized for their device.

No app can help with this. You still need a mobile-optimized giving experience for mobile visitors to your website or you’re risking lost donations.

9. Comments from Red Cross

And then there’s this quote from Mobile Marketer, July 2013, by the former vice president digital engagement at the Red Cross, Craig Oldham:

“Apps stink for fundraising,” Mr. Oldham said. “We try our hardest to get people to donate through apps – they are horrible.”

Based on all that has been shared here, your nonprofit might be well-served to heed Mr. Oldham’s feedback and steer clear of the path that leads to your nonprofit being in a third party app.


Dale Knoop, CEO RAZ Mobile

About the Author: Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create a content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.