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« Conversational Case Study: Myth or Fact - Can Small Nonprofits Win with Social Media? | Main | Closing the Loop Between Social Media and Offline Action »


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Mark Horvath

I really am looking at the ipad for data collection in the field while working with homeless people. the 10hr battery alone makes it ideal for an outreach case manager to add/retrieve case notes on a client.

it would help solve many issues and help in keeping data more accurate. issue is getting a decision maker to approve the high price point. too me, it is worth it and would pay for itself in no time. but homeless services has had huge funding cuts so an executive director may not agree with me that quickly.


I think that there is a huge potential for non-profits to maximize the growth of mobile devices, including the iPad. However, nonprofits must create engaging content that warrants attention in a universe full of immersive sites and apps. Often, a nonprofit must be ‘convinced’ that an app can actually benefit the organization. Let’s name a few ways: social networking integration, donations, advertising / sponsorships, & web credibility. If the application is only seen by 1 person, how was it not worth it?

You mention that the build process can be expensive, which can be true...
In contrast, I’ve offered to build apps for nonprofits for free and I’ve had more groups turn me down because they couldn’t see any value in having an app. The irony is that usually the content on their website was the primary reason I volunteered in the first place. I’ve only built a few non-profit applications (Keep A Child Alive - and !deation conference 2010 -, but myself and others could do more if nonprofits actually believed that they can influence people. I mean, isn’t that the reason that they formed in the first place?

So my question is, who will mature first? The iPad or the majority of nonprofits that don’t see any reason to exist on it?


My first reaction is that iPadders tend toward the affluent, can surely afford to donate, and may well be induced to donate by content that brings home to them the goodness of the cause.

Jeff Achen

The "lean forward vs. lean back" analogy really resonates with me. I think the trend toward touch screen technology, tablet style computing, and mobile app development is the real story here. The iPad just happens to be the product that represents these features/trends best at the present time.

That said, I think the iPad should definitely cause nonprofits to stop, look and listen. It is changing how people engage with media, individuals and organizations in fundamental ways. It is impacting giving. Take for example text giving campaigns and the explosion of mobile apps in the nonprofit sector. In particular, the Causecast, Nonprofit Tech 2.0, Givabit, and Causeworld apps are noteworthy early nonprofit forays into the mobie app world. We here at are definitely exploring mobile app possibilities as well.

Mobile app development DIY sites like and may also make it easier for nonprofits to dip their toes in.

Bryan Formhals

@Mark Horvath: "issue is getting a decision maker to approve the high price point."

It maybe hard to resist right now, but I really think it's probably more of an observational phase for non-profits. The price point on these Apple gizmos comes down with each subsequent version, and you have fewer bugs and such as well.

Something I'm also keeping an eye on are the demographics of iPad users. Right now, it's clearly rather wealthy early adopters. I'm curious to see how far it can cut into the notebook market. I think it has a good chance, but it's going to take a few years.

Chuck Johnston

@Bryan Formals - I think you make a great point about the wealth of early adopters for iPads - although they're in the hands of a few it's a few who can make a big impact.

I think overall mobile technology for non-profits will be incredible to watch evolve. I think it will take a few big successes before non-profits really get in the game though of mobile devices.

On our end we are developing with the iPad in mind but not specifically FOR the iPad.

Devin Day

One of my close friends who does mapping technology utilizes the iPhone for realtime data points for MAF pilots. I think that both the iPad and iPhone are natural devices that can greatly enhance the work being done by nonprofits. Streamlining processes and realtime collaboration is key to any org.

I'd love to post this question on with a link to your blog?

Great post!

Devin Day

Sam Venable

Agreed that we all have a tendency to get sucked in by shiny object syndrome - but you're right, Beth, we do need to be proactive in how we approach emerging technology.

I think the iPad fits a great niche for mobile, on-site fundraising. For example, we're getting ready to have a pretty large alumni event on campus; I wonder if the combination of on-campus engagement, interest in the device, ease of use and portability would make people more willing to make a gift there on the spot.

Has anyone used an iPad in a situation like this? I'd be interested to hear whether or not it was successful.

Avi Kaplan

The tactile format fo the iPad is an encouraging development for organizations to tell their stories creatively. I think we're going to see a lot of interesting applications where users can discover for themselves and have aha moments. Some of that is from the immersive gaming experiences that iPad lends itself too. Stories like the one told in the PeaceMaker game are a different experience on this platform.

Geoff Livingston

I cannot stop using mine. In fact, I know longer bring laptops to business meetings, conferences and events and instead use my iPad. It does for me what a netbook was supposed to..

Sam: Intuit has developed an app for this platform (iPhone, too), which allows mobile fundraising on the fly...

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