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Build vs. Buy – Mobile Charity Apps

January 26, 2016

Mobile is becoming the mainstay for communication and commerce. As a nonprofit, your ability to tap into mobile channels will soon be vital for your fundraising and donor communication strategy. Consider the numbers:

 - 64% of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 35% in the Spring of 2011.
  •  - 80% of shoppers use digital devices to research purchases and to shop.
  •  - The amount of time people spend on their mobile phones and tablets has almost doubled since 2008.

Launching a mobile initiative for your fundraiser may seem daunting. After all, you’re likely not a technology expert. Even if you have technology expertise on your team, shifting their priorities to create a mobile charity app may not be in your 2016 roadmap.

Given the stats above, it may need to be.

Here are some considerations when deciding whether to build a mobile app for your organization or buy into a current mobile platform strategy.

Internal Bandwidth

As with any initiative, if you launch it, you have to make sure you have the internal resources to support it. If you decide to move forward with building your mobile app, consider what other strategic initiatives will have to be delayed. If you want to integrate an existing platform, determine the internal bandwidth needed to make the project a success. Given the prevalence of mobile behaviors, shifting focus from other projects may be worth it.


Determine how much budget to allocate to your mobile initiative. Creating an app can have a lot of benefits, but the costs can be hefty. If you can’t allocate enough dollars to make the app easy to use and valuable for your donors, the cost may not be worth it. The same thing applies for integrating a platform, determine if your organization has the budget required to get started.

Return on Investment

As you consider the project budget, take a hard look at the numbers. How much can you expect to raise through the app each year? Given the propensity for people to use mobile, you may show a decent ROI. You just want to make sure the numbers add up before you launch a mobile giving initiative.

Try Before You Buy

Your organization may find some value in “dipping your toe” into mobile before launching an all-out initiative. If the try before you buy concept sounds appealing, here are three things to look for in a potential solution. This list will help you minimize risk in the when partnering with a mobile app:

-No Sign Up Fees
  • -Minimal Credit Processing Fees
  • -Easy ramp-up on platform and ongoing support
  • If you or your team is considering building or buying a mobile giving app, check out this graph for a simple side by side comparison. 

Build vs. Buy - A Mobile Giving App

Download High Resolution Infographic Here


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Mobile Giving, Corporate Giving, Mobile Nonprofit Technology

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