Nonprofits Upset At Apple’s Decision To Ban Charitable Donations Via iOS Apps

Mobile giving has grown substantially in recent years, as evident in a few recent unfortunate disasters around the globe where the mobile channel provided an invaluable link between those who needed help and those ready and willing to donate.

Charitable donations via mobile devices — and especially via mobile apps — present challenges, however, which has led Apple to place a ban on making any kind of donation through charity-based applications on iOS devices.  The move has angered many nonprofits who see mobile applications — and especially the iOS platform itself — as a vital tool in collecting funds.

While Apple has been quiet on its decision, the move stems from the fact that processing donations via its payment mechanism would mean the company would have to be in the business of managing and distributing funds and verifying charities, which adds complication and responsibility the company obviously doesn’t want to take on.  An Apple spokeswoman, Trudy Muller, declined to explain the rationale completely, saying only; “We are proud to have many applications on our App Store which accept charitable donations via their Websites.”

Organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the American Cancer Society already have iPhone apps available in the App Store, but none can be used to make gifts.  Prospective donors instead are directed out of a nonprofit’s app and to its Website to make donations, which the organizations say makes the process of contributing more cumbersome.  “When you’re popped out of an app, you then have to go through a whole bunch of clicks to make a donation,” said Beth Kanter, co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit” and chief executive of Zoetica, a consulting firm.   “It’s cumbersome and it doesn’t have to be.”