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Summary:

Bucking the growing trend of today’s app economy, non-profits are turning to the touch-friendly mobile web to engage audiences and generate charitable donations. Ironically, faith-based groups are leveraging the agnostic Internet as a platform more than any other in this sector.

Governments and non-profit organizations could be the next sectors to build touch-enabled applications for the mobile web, according to a Taptu report released today. Unlike specific mobile handset platforms like those of Apple, Google and others, the Internet is agnostic, making it useful for low-budget organizations to engage the masses. Though the web’s agnosticism is somewhat ironic in this case, as religious groups are so far the most dominant users of touch applications — accounting for 72.5 percent of all government and non-profits with mobile, touch-friendly sites in Taptu’s data pool.

And what better platform is there for sharing religious messages or raising charitable contributions than the mobile web? A touch-optimized site for mobiles paired with payment services like Twitpay can result in big bucks with a few taps on modern handsets. Such ease-of-use is what helped raise tens of millions of dollars for Haitian relief efforts this past January through simple text messaging — another money-making mechanism usable with virtually any phone.

So why use the touch-enabled web in lieu of focused applications? Given limited budgets, non-profits can focus development efforts on a single platform — the mobile web — which reaches the widest potential audience. Creating a platform-specific smartphone application requires more time and money than these groups may have. Even without a custom iPhone or Android program, well-designed mobile sites still work well on those iPhones and Android handsets, not to mention most touchscreen phones. In fact, this sector might be the perfect example of one benefiting more from the web than from custom applications —  a rare feat in today’s app economy. Using the mobile web as the lowest common denominator could be the answer to a non-profit’s prayers.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Could Activist-Style Micropayments Be a Real-Time Ad Model?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user flickr user Mindful_One

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  1. Awesome perspective Kevin, as always.

    Like you, the religion factoid fascinates me…with such a high degree of adoption by this group!

    quite cool.

    -Jason (of Taptu)

  2. Kevin, this is a good article and I 100% agree that one should prioritize mobile web vs. smartphone app development for gov’t & nonprofit sectors. I want to make sure your audience recognizes the role of mobile messaging for donations & sharing religious content. Today, 235MM Americans can send/receive a text message on their phones & over 210MM of them can receive a short video of a religious sermon, or an inspirational message via MMS. This is a major reason why the Haiti donations were so successful – consumers never had to go to a website, download an application, etc. They could donate by simply sending a text message. Mobile messaging should be an integral tool used by nonprofit everywhere.

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