Apple needs to get moving on a donation app before the brand gets tarnished

I’ve decided it’s time to add my two cents worth on the ongoing battle to convince Apple to allow people to donate to charity directly through apps on the iPhone.

The saga has been rumbling on for a while now and if it’s ever going to have a happy ending it’s going to be critical to keep the pressure on and not allow the story simply to simply fade away.

For those unfamiliar with the tale so far, for the past few months pressure has been mounting on the technology company to allow people to donate to charity directly through an iPhone app rather than having to go through a website.

Having an app could make giving quicker and easier – key ingredients for successful fundraising.

Almost very step of the way, Apple has refused to provide comment on why it is refusing to allow this.

Many have speculated that this is because Apple takes 30 per cent cut of all money spent directly through apps, and this would also have to be the case for donations made through apps.

Some argue that this wouldn’t matter – that 70 per cent of a donation is better than no donation at all.

But the reality is that if a global giant like Apple started taking almost a third of donations made to charity, there would be uproar that might tarnish the brand for a long time.

There isn’t an expectation for it to be free. Most trusted methods of giving, such as websites like Just Giving, take a cut of each donation to cover their costs.

It’s just that it is normally around the 5 per cent mark rather than a frightening 30.

My hope, although I’m pretty sure it is in vain, is that somewhere behind the scenes a policy team at Apple HQ is working out a feasible way of doing this.

It won’t be easy though. Setting something up which allows donations to be processed differently to other purchases could open up a can of worms for the company.

So, although I think this is something Apple needs to get moving on, it may not be as straightforward to put into place as it may seem.

There’s a massive slice of brand value at stake here, and a company like Apple is not going to risk throwing away its shiny image for the sake of pacifying a few thousand people who are frustrated about the absence of an app.

  • Michael Naidu

    Leon, you can be proactive, take the person’s name, the agency and charity they are representing and then register a complaint, in fact the fundraiser will have a contact number on them. Yes I agree that charities should have service level agreements in contracts but that will never completely stop poor practice as is the case with any sector/business. The FundRaising Standards Board was set up to regulate fundraising and need people to activily complain directly to the charity who have a responsibility to deal with that complaint effectively.


    • Leon Ward

      Thanks Mike.

      I did tweet their agency and will ask them to call me. I understand your point but at that moment in time with everyone staring at me I just wanted to hide – it was so embarrassing – the last thing I wanted to do was to stop take his name number etc because then I would have extended the time with him + I had a conference call to get too.

      Fortunately, there were only two fundraisers on that street and because it’s an in-house agency probably easily to identify.


      • Michael Naidu

        Hi Leon, completely accept that you didn’t couldn’t stop. Interesting you should say that they are an in-house agency. Not sure what that means as most in-house teams are directly employed by the Charity they are fundraising for in which case the Charity will be directly responsible for the fundraisers actions.


        • Leon Ward

          It’s an agency owned by the charity. Quite an usual set up – and probably slightly more worrying. Perhaps they’re newer to the game then some other agencies. Thanks for reading and commenting. Really appreciate it.


          • Mike Wade

            Sorry to hear about this one Leon. I’d be interested – did the agency and/or charity get back to you? Did they handle the complaint effectively? Rogue stuff always happens, it how they deal with it that counts

          • Leon Ward

            I had actually contacted them on Twitter and didn’t hear back so have re-reported it via their website and will chase in due course.

  • Christian Dapp

    Ouch. I’m impressed that you’re talking so calmly and evenly about this- because the fundraiser is clearly in the wrong. Creativity in stop lines is absolutely vital, experimenting with new ones, definately, and sometimes, they might even get a fundraiser into an awkward situation or come out badly. It happens. But this one is just too unprofessional to merit any of this reasoning.

    You make a very valid point that standards expected and standards delivered can vary wildly, but I would say the same thing about Starbucks or Tesco’s- when you have a huge amount of people working across the country in entry level positions, with a wide range of qualifications and life experience, sometimes you’ll get excellent service, sometimes mediocre, sometimes awful. The vital thing, as Michael said, is to complain- as that way, individual fundraisers are found out, and the sector as a whole improves.

  • Ivor Sutton

    So right and so true, Jude!

    As someone who stems from the private sector, but who ambitiously and successfully transferred my passion and skills into the public and third sectors, I do not believe that there is a sufficient amount of personal examples and experiences placed on the board room table to reflect knowledge of the policy and practices that will enter into the domain of our community. Why is this?

    One would have though, by nature, by entering into the third sector – working in a Charity environment and seeing first-hand the diverse range of challenges and objectives that the client seeks support with, will encourage this ‘dress down’ of ‘where we actually comes from’ and ‘how’ can the team with all of its diversity improve services to its users and reach organisational goals too. But, it’s my view that such form of interaction and a relationship building between ones own experiences or ‘stories’ and that of the policy that needs to be developed, are never really encouraged to meet.

    I have said many times, i strongly believe that the third sector is really missing out on promoting itself as best as it could. Why Charity directors and its management are not acting sufficiently to develop their business case by encouraging the ‘stories’ of their teams and its service users, I don’t know. These are valuable tools that will ultimately help to reduce stigmatising, reduce ignorance and develop understanding throughout our communities to the diverse range of challenges people are facing. Furthermore, if Charities are to balance empathy with business in order to grow their client base and to build confidence with funders, they need to become innovative in their strategies.

    My end though is ‘is this worthy topic going to trigger this change?

  • Mike Smith

    its interesting how the words ‘sexual harrassment’ has not been mentioned here which is a criminal offence and surely should have been reported to the police.

    • Leon Ward

      I don’t feel like it needs to be reported to the police, instead, I’m dealing with the agency to ensure that the individual receives the proper top-up training that he needs. I’m not an enemy of charities or of fundraisers, rather, just a critical friend who wants to help them improve.

      • Mike Smith

        So if you see illegal behaviour you would tend to not report it to the police but to keep it in house so that it can be swept under the carpet as that’s what will happen? Surely you don’t think that charities should be above the law. If the sector supports this behaviour by not reporting it as a crime how would this look to the law abiding public? Surely this image would damage the reputation of the sector?

      • Mike Smith

        And just following on from my previous post, isn’t it a criminal offence to not report or to turn a blind eye to a crime? It’s like saying that you would not report a friend if you knew or witnesses him assaulting someone in a public space. It’s not ethical is it.