How To Build a Successful Nonprofit App
Apps have the ability to revolutionize the nonprofit sector. With a well-developed app, a nonprofit can streamline its processes and improve its donor base. From charity apps to donation apps and fundraising apps, apps can make a world of difference for a nonprofit or charity organization. In this post, we’ll share how to develop a nonprofit app that will make a difference.
1. Keep the mission front and center.
One of the most important things to consider when developing an app for a nonprofit organization is whether or not the app’s purpose aligns with the organization’s mission. There are many reasons nonprofit professionals seek a software solution through a custom app:
- Bring awareness to your nonprofit’s cause.
- Interact with your community.
- Augment the experience of interacting with your nonprofit.
- Make operations more efficient.
- Manage volunteers or coordinate board member activity.
- Keep supporters informed.
- Attract donors through fundraising for your charity.
- Help others.
But regardless of these reasons, the most successful nonprofit apps are those that keep the nonprofit organization’s mission at the forefront. If the app is not directly related to the organization’s mission, it’s likely that it will not be used by the organization’s target audience.
For this reason, it’s important to make sure that the app’s purpose is in line with the organization’s goals. Throughout the mobile app development process, keep the mission in mind and make it a priority.
Apps on a Mission: Examples
Volunteer & Donor Apps To Mobilize a Charity
The American Red Cross has a stated mission of “mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors” to respond to disasters, alleviate suffering, and support human rights. In line with this mission, their volunteer app, Volunteer Connection, enables existing volunteers to manage their activity and stay more engaged with the charity through a mobile app.
The Blood Donor app is another charity app offered by the American Red Cross. Through the donation app, they can send push notifications alerting the public of blood shortages. It streamlines and enhances the charity’s donation process and user experience, enabling donors to locate nearby blood drives, get notified when their blood is on its way to a patient, earn achievements, and more.
2. Make your app easy to use through thoughtful design.
A key benefit of your nonprofit app is user participation. You can use your app to engage with users who are passionate about your nonprofit organization’s cause. But even for the most important cause or well-known charity, you may lose users if your mobile app is confusing to use or otherwise poorly designed.
For nonprofits, user interface and user experience are essential tools to keep your users engaged and motivated to continue interacting with your cause or charity. Here are a few app design tips to help ensure your mobile app is easy to use.
Put the User First
Is your user a volunteer, supporter, community member, charity champion, or donor? For that user, your app should make complex tasks simpler. During mobile app development, make the user interface and experience as streamlined and straightforward as possible.
Accessible to everyone means ensuring that the app is available in multiple languages, as well as taking into consideration users with different abilities. By making the app accessible to all, you’ll ensure that it can be used by the widest possible audience.
Creativity is encouraged, but clarity reigns. Instead of cluttering your mobile application with too many design elements, try to keep it simple and readable.
Use Your Brand
Choose bright, inviting colors and design elements that align with your brand’s message.
Use a Dashboard
A central dashboard helps the user stay oriented and motivated. It’s essential to keep it clean and effective. Include critical information here.
Visually display fundraising or other cause-related metrics that donors, supporters, and volunteers care about, like the money raised, hours donated, or meals packed.
Follow the Leaders
Google and Apple both have interface design resources. Following these best practices ensures you’ve put the proper thought and care into your mobile app development and design.
3. Collect and respond to feedback.
One key to success for any app lies in collecting and responding to user feedback. The benefits and use cases for feedback include:
- Determining How To Update Your Nonprofit App: Reviews are a great way to stay in touch with the ongoing desires of your user community. This is especially important for a nonprofit app, as it can help the organization fine-tune its offerings and make improvements.
- Marketing Your App: The value of positive reviews is high in influencing how your mobile app ranks in search results on the app stores and in compelling others to take the risk to download your app.
- Protecting Your Reputation: Collecting in-app feedback about bugs and usability problems can often help avert negative public posts by allowing you to quickly fix any issues.
Here are some best practices for managing feedback.
Prompt for Reviews
While some users will choose to leave feedback on their own, others benefit from being prompted. To increase the quality of the feedback, request reviews when users have already used and are familiar with your mobile app.
Respond to All Reviews
Remember that users want to be heard. We recommend that you respond to all reviews, no matter how positive or negative they may be.
Represent Your Brand
Responding to reviews is no different than interacting with users through social media, email, and discussion forums. Take care that you are thoughtful in your approach.
Encourage Direct Outreach
Nonprofits can provide a contact number or email address to encourage users to contact them directly and address unique concerns.
4. Keep your app updated.
You’ve developed your nonprofit app and released it to the world. Things are going great, and your charity is seeing the rewards of investing in nonprofit app development. But an outdated app usually isn’t a highly used one. How do you keep a user coming back? App updates are an integral part of the business plan for nonprofit organizations seeking to develop an app.
Here are some factors that may inspire (or require) you to update your nonprofit app.
Features & Improvements
Even after you release your app, the user experience will continue to be the most important place to focus your time. Straightforward apps may hit the nail on the head at launch, but most apps go through a few iterations before they offer the desired experience.
Keep track of your app store rankings, download growth trends, and social signals in online mentions and reviews. In-app analytics can provide insights into how users progress through different locations and features within your app. Monitoring performance also helps to bring to light any issues that could be causing users to abandon your app.
Great app ratings and reviews come from a great user experience. Learn from your users’ feedback, and put that into regular updates with new features and improvements.
Operating System Releases
Many of our clients rightly ask whether an operating system (OS) update will impact the functionality of a native app they built on a previous OS. The answer is, generally, “It might!”
With a new OS release, it’s always wise for mobile app developers to review existing code. This way, you’ll ensure your app will work as well on the user’s mobile device as it did when it was first written.
For more information on the implications of an OS update, check out our article: How do OS updates impact apps?
5. Promote your nonprofit app.
Before your mobile app is launched, you’ll want to be ready to promote it through traditional and digital channels on the Apple App Store, Google Play, and beyond. While the methods for promoting your mobile app may vary, here are a few tried-and-true marketing strategies to connect people to your cause.
Advertising & Content Marketing
Getting the word out there is essential for nonprofits to ensure that people are aware of and using the app. Applying a tandem advertising and content marketing strategy is an excellent way to succeed here. Go beyond making a great first impression by marketing your nonprofit app to attract, engage, and exceed your users’ expectations.
A Google Ad Grant can equip your nonprofit with up to $10,000 in free search advertising per month. With content marketing, you can make helpful and valuable content for potential users, drawing them to your website through articles, infographics, or videos that help your audience achieve their goals. You can develop content that will attract users to download your app and then use Google Analytics to optimize it for search rankings.
For example, the Charity Miles app is a fundraising app that enables users to earn money for charity whenever they walk, run, or bike. The blog covers topics on employee engagement and success stories to attract potential user groups and sponsors.
Website Landing Page
There are many free tools you can use for your nonprofit’s website. A website with a landing page specific to your app will help promote your app, its features, and its launch date.
Provide a contact form to collect potential users’ email addresses. Invite people to sign up for launch notifications and provide social media sharing tools so fans can begin recommending your app to others. The goal is to build excitement and collect data that will power other elements of your marketing campaign.
App Store Listings
A compelling app store listing is a vital component of marketing your app. App store listings feature your icon, screenshots, and video previews. They appeal to potential users by providing an attractive and informative visual summary of the app’s design and key features.
While there are many components to your app store listings, here are the top three items to focus on to create a great one:
Knowing and using relevant keywords is imperative—we can’t emphasize it enough. In today’s digital world, all content is filtered before it’s delivered to you. From the Instagram posts you see first to the order of websites a Google search returns, keyword rankings help you find the information and products you want.
Just like social media captions and website previews, only so much of your description is visible to your potential user when they first arrive on your listing. This promotional description text is your app’s chance to stand apart in a lineup of similar offerings. It should pack a punch and convey your app’s value. You’ll want to be compelling here and include at least one of the keywords you identified.
For highly visual apps, preview and promo videos can enable you to overcome the challenge of articulating in words a concept better seen in action. But any app can benefit from a video by offering potential users a refreshing way to experience features before downloading.
Social media is a cornerstone of getting the word out and should be central to your promotional strategy. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Start well before app launch by establishing a presence on multiple platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Consider a variety of media, including video and TikTok reels.
- Note that your charity or exempt organization may be eligible for the YouTube Nonprofit program.
- Encourage interest, build excitement, and increase engagement with announcements, screenshots, and previews.
- Direct traffic to your website and app store listings to attract your target audience and build awareness with potential users.
Whether you use the nonprofit cloud or a simpler option, email marketing can be a powerful tool for creating brand awareness and keeping your cause top of mind. You can enable fans to join a waiting list or to opt-in to receive immediate announcements on launch day and stay engaged through email marketing. You can also use marketing emails to send users informational tips or promotional offers.
Notably, Salesforce offers 10 user licenses for free to nonprofits, making sophisticated marketing tools available to smaller organizations to do customized email outreach. With the nonprofit success pack, you can use your data to create segmented communications and personalized content for email campaigns.
Targeting your message to your audience helps encourage open rates and click-throughs.
A press kit informs reporters and bloggers about your app. Hit the ground running on launch day by creating a single-file kit that includes everything the press needs to help generate buzz about your app:
- Press Release
- App Store Icon & Screenshots
- Video Demo
- App Description
- About Your Organization
Make an Impact With Nonprofit App Development
Applying technology in innovative ways can help nonprofits stand out. Working with a mobile app development company can help you make an impact with your nonprofit mission.
Many low-code, no-code DIY development platforms can be used as prototypes to test ideas and gather feedback. If your app is simple and requires little customization, this option may be the right place for you to start.
If you’re looking for an expert who can help you develop a nonprofit app in Denver and Boulder, Austin, or anywhere else, or if you have an app and you need to scale it, we’re here for you. Check out our IA Commits program for more information and to get in touch.
Your app is our mission.
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