About a month ago I first blogged about the controversy in the nonprofit sector over Apple’s ban on donation apps on the iPhone. Since then, the voice of the sector has gained strength with Zoetica CEO Beth Kanter continuing to sound off and circulate a petition of more than 13,000 signatures to oppose Apple. The conversation has even entered the political sphere, with PC Pro reporting that the UK’s Minister for Civil Society would write Apple to “encourage the company to be more positive and constructive.”
Sadly, Apple’s silence has signaled to philanthropic donors and practitioners alike that they don’t intend to budge on the issue. I have often spoken publicly about the can-do attitude and spirit of the American people and the nonprofit sector, and this situation has proven to be no exception. The Huffington Post recently reported on Nadanu Technologies’ platform for an “iPhone-optimized giving app with a donate button that can be downloaded outside of the official App Store, exempting it from Apple’s mobile-giving restrictions.” This surely won’t be the last creation of its kind.
I want to stress again the importance that Apple plays in reaching a new generation of financial donors, and urge Steve Jobs and company to reevaluate their stance on the subject. Per the Huffington Post, “Last year’s Haiti earthquake disaster marked a major turning point for mobile giving, as organizations like the Red Cross raked in between $30 million and $40 million over the phone, and app developers across the country seem to be taking notice. Nadanu CEO Getzy Fellig said the company saw a tremendous uptick of Dec. 31 donations through its apps on Facebook and iPhone, including one $10,000 iPhone donation to a New Jersey day school.”
There’s no doubt that Apple is missing a key partnership opportunity with the nonprofit sector – and maybe even defining the future of philanthropy for our country. For years Apple has been at the forefront of technology, and it’s shameful that they aren’t taking this opportunity to work with nonprofits, rather than just writing them off.
As the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Vincent Stehle recently stated, “For its part, Apple has said that it does not permit charitable donations to be made through its iPhone applications because it has no way to verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations that might receive donations through its media platform.” If that’s true, then let me make it clear: GuideStar has the capability to meet Apple’s concern. We do it every day for thousands of donors and corporations.
We just need Apple to take the first bite.