Apps for nonprofits
Mobile applications—simply referred to as “apps”—have been a continually growing trend since the cell phone turned smart phone. Today, one in four U.S. adults uses mobile apps and average time spent on apps now surpasses time spent browsing the Web from computers.Affordable to download, handy to use or just plain fun, apps have become a mobile norm for a reason. Many nonprofits have jumped on the bandwagon and created successful apps that allow activists and donors to give, volunteer and ultimately help spread the message of a cause.

While apps are a great way to engage, creating custom apps is …well … not always an affordable marketing tactic for most local nonprofit organizations. That doesn’t mean apps don’t have potential to be used on the other side, though. Here are a few ways that your organization can use apps internally to make day-to-day work easier and more fun!

Use apps to…

Share programs or events in real time
If your nonprofit is active in social media, there are a variety of apps available to manage your accounts from wherever you are. Which means you can post photos (through apps like twtpic™ or Plixi™), video (through Ustream® or twitvid™) , audio interviews (through Tweetmic™ or Chir.ps) and more as your events happen in order to build buzz and promote the work of your mission. Bonus: The ability to monitor and update accounts on the fly means that giveaways and contests happen whenever, wherever. At your next event, give away prizes—like Snuggle Me blankets or T-Shirts—to the first few people to check in on Foursquare® or Gowalla® or post a photo of them at your event on your organization’s Facebook™ wall.

Manage projects and expenses on the go
It’s no secret that nonprofit staff wear many different hats. Project management apps like Outpost® and Nozbe™ can help keep all tasks, deadlines and meetings straight. Some of these apps also allow for expense and mileage tracking, making meetings with donors a breeze to report. Use them to keep track of thank-you notes and gifts, like wine glasses and chocolate—to send to prospects and expense after meetings.

Keep donor information at your fingertips
Numerous donor management software packages, like Donor Tools® and Blackbaud® now come with app options. Which means your team can take notes while courting donors in real time, pull confidential contact information securely whenever you need it, reference giving history, and even locate prospects within a nearby radius just before meeting a prospect and much, much more.

Stay up-to-date on nonprofit news
Who has time to go in search of industry news these days? Certain apps like Zoetica™ are now available with the aim of keeping nonprofits in the loop. While many of these tools function like blog readers and use RSS (Real Simply Syndication) to deliver the latest updates to your phone, most are very specific and curate only the relevant topics.

Network
The next time you’re out at a networking or community event or attending a nonprofit conference, apps like bu.mp™ can make it easy to exchange contact information and stay connected long after the event is over.

A seemingly endless array of apps are available that can help make your nonprofit more efficient—encourage your employees to seek out the best. As they try them out, ask them to keep track of the ones they love on a dry-erase board posted in common areas. Allow for a few minutes at team meetings to discuss the best and learn how to implement them. Most of all, have fun!

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