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How to Create an App for a Nonprofit

More and more people and using mobile applications. In fact, users downloaded more than 200 billion apps in 2019!

Building an app for your nonprofit could help you reach more people and raise more money for important causes. Although app development sounds complicated, new technologies and tools are removing many of the barriers to app creation.

The planning phase of app development is very important. You need to decide what your app will do and how it will provide value to your supporters.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how to create an app for a nonprofit.

Types of Mobile Apps

If you want to build a mobile app for your nonprofit organization, the first step is to decide what kind of app to build. There are three main kinds of apps that you need to know.

Native Apps

Native apps are the kind of apps that users download from an app store. They reside on the user’s device and will run on specific operating systems. For example, iOS apps can’t run on Android phones.

Native apps can access mobile device features like the camera, file system, and contacts. Native apps have to get approved by an app store first before users can access them.

Web Apps

Web applications are not really apps at all. They are websites that users access through their browser.

The advantage of a web app is that users don’t need to install it from an app store. Web apps are often built to look and behave like native apps.

Web apps also work on any device with an internet connection. In other words, the operating system does not affect the app’s performance. The disadvantage is that they can’t work offline.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

A progressive web app is a cross between a native mobile app and a web application. It’s a relatively new and exciting technology.

PWAs are similar to web apps in that they run through the browser. This means that users don’t need to install them from app stores.

However, PWAs function like native apps, and they also work offline. Developers build PWAs using web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Moreover, PWAs can access in-built device features like the camera, making them similar to native apps.

Mobile App Development

There is a lot to consider when building a mobile app. Creating an app full of bugs will impact your nonprofit’s reputation. 

On the other hand, an app that works seamlessly will help you build lasting relationships with donors and volunteers.

That’s why the following concepts are so important to understand when developing a mobile app.

Architecture

Mobile app architecture refers to the different components of your app and how they interact. Your app’s architecture is like its skeleton. If it’s not sturdy enough, your entire app will collapse.

There are many elements within the mobile app system. This includes the user interface, technology stack, databases, and more. All of these elements form part of your app’s architecture.

The architecture of your app will depend on what kind of app you’re building and which operating system it’s designed for.

Security

When a user installs a new app, they expect it to be secure. Mobile app security is one of the most crucial aspects of good app development.

Native apps are often more vulnerable than web apps because the code and user data are stored on the user’s device. Web apps are different because they fetch data from a non-local server.

Hackers are getting more sophisticated, so overlooking the principles of mobile security could spell disaster for your nonprofit.

Creating a secure app begins with writing secure code. This is where you need the help of experienced developers who know how to test for vulnerabilities.

User authentication and authorization are also important aspects of mobile app security. This ensures that outside users can’t break into your app.

Data Streams

Almost all apps store and request user data. If hackers gain entry into your app they could steal data from your volunteers or donors. This would be a disaster for your organization.

Securing user data involves encrypting all of your data streams and databases. When it comes to apps for charities, you should never store sensitive data locally. This includes passwords and credit card information.

Scalability

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a million users download your app? But what if your app crashed due to the increased traffic?

Scalability refers to the ability to handle increased usage. No matter the size of your nonprofit, building a scalable app is an important consideration.

Scalable apps are fast and able to maintain high performance despite an increase in users. This helps to promote a great user experience.

Furthermore, scalable apps are flexible. This makes it easy to add new features and make other upgrades to your code.

Building a Successful App for Your Non-profit

Building a successful app for your nonprofit starts with identifying a problem to solve. At the end of the day, your app should provide value to the user that they cannot get elsewhere.

Think about the purpose of your app. Why would users choose to download your app from the app store instead of the others that are available? What unique features can you include to make your app stand out?

Friendly UI

Your app’s design will determine whether users close it, delete it or love it. When designing an app for a charity, the user interface should be friendly and easy to navigate.

Don’t clutter your app with too many design elements. Rather, keep it simple and readable. Choose colors that are bright, inviting, and in line with your brand’s message.

Payment Integration

If you’re building a donation app, you need to integrate a working payment gateway. The donation process should be effortless with minimal steps involved.

Some of the most common payment gateways include PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Think about the best way to integrate these different systems into your app for the best possible user experience.

Compatibility

Are you planning to reach a large audience with your app? You need to make sure it’s compatible with different device types. 

Operating system and screen size are two important factors when designing your app for use on different device types. If you’re building a web app, make sure it’s responsive. In other words, it should work seamlessly on desktop, tablet, and mobile.

Find a Reliable Developer

The importance of hiring the right developer cannot be stressed enough. Experienced developers build apps that are secure, scalable, and well-optimized.

Choose an app development company that understands your organization and is passionate about your cause. This will help you build a relationship and ensure the end product is something to be proud of.

Benefits of Having an App for Your Non-profit

There are several reasons to build an app for your nonprofit. Here are some of the most obvious benefits.

Collect Donations

Having an app gives you an easy way to elicit and collect donations. You can send messages to users over the app and even host fun competitions.

You can also keep track of donations and this allows you to reward your top donors and build lasting relationships with your most trusted supporters.

Raise Awareness

Mobile apps help nonprofits to raise awareness about important causes. An app allows you to communicate directly with your users and notify them about new campaigns you’re launching.

App’s are a great way to raise awareness as users will often show them to their family or friends, who will then also download the app. 

Arrange Events

Apps also allow you to organize events and manage your members. You can integrate your app with Google Calendar to make sure users never forget important events.

You should also think about the way you communicate with your volunteers. Include friendly messages in your app and make people feel appreciated. 

Let Users Interact with Each Other

Why not allow your members to interact with one another and form their own groups? People enjoy being part of teams with other people that share the same interests and goals.

You could create teams for fundraising events or roadside waste cleanup. You can also award prizes for teams that raise the most money. Competition is a great way to encourage users to participate more.

That’s How to Create an App for a Nonprofit

That’s the end of our guide for people wondering how to create an app for a nonprofit.

It all starts by defining the type of app you want to create and understanding the different aspects of good mobile app development. After that, you should think about your organization and what you want to accomplish with your app.

The most important part of building an app is hiring an experienced developer who understands app architecture, user interface design, and mobile security.

Here at Jackrabbit, we have nearly a decade of experience building custom digital solutions. Contact us today for a quote.

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