The opportunity to push relevant messages to donors based on their location is just one feature of the new smartphone app solution, App-Makers. Liz Henderson runs through some of the possibilities it offers for nonprofits.

A new solution for charity apps has been launched by Smart-Phone Marketing, a subsidiary of Direct Marketing Fundraising specialists, Mail Makers integrated. App-Makers is a standard ‘shell’ for Apple and Android mobile operating systems that the direct marketing agency – which specialises in multi-platform communications – can fully customise for individual nonprofits.

The thinking that lies behind the release of App-Makers is a desire to give Australian nonprofits a tool to leverage the runaway popularity of mobile technology, without their limited time and budgets standing in the way.

“With something like 127 minutes spent in apps every day compared to 168 minutes watching TV, it meant that an opportunity was there for charities to really engage with an audience,” says Anil Nair, who is Strategic Development Manager at Mail Makers integrated. “But crucially an app needs to reward and engage. Apps built just for the sake of it are a financial cul-de-sac.”

Where App-Makers apps can help charities avoid that dead-end path is in providing a single platform for user-generated content and video software, withGeo-Fencing and iBeacons to communicate to users based on their location. Charities can then push messages out that are relevant (and thus more engaging) to users at that particular time and place.

“Geo-Fencing allows nonprofits to see where their supporters are on a map,” Nair explains. “They can then set a ‘hotzone’ with a couple of mouse clicks and go on to send targeted rich push-messages to them whenever they enter that location. There are settings to ensure that you are not bombarding them with messages – just sending them the relevant ones.”

“iBeacons are chip devices the size of an eraser that ping out messages to any smartphone app user that passes within 60 metres. One example is Virgin Atlantic. Its customers with the Passbook app arrive in departures followed shortly by their boarding pass direct to their lockscreen.”

When it comes to use by charities, Nair says there are opportunities to combine Geo-Fencing with support from celebrity ambassadors.

“In the US, a particular baseball player who suffered a form of cancer in his formative years is having an app developed with Geo-Fencing set up around his sponsors,” says Nair.

“The idea is based on having his fans download the app, and as his fans enter a Geo-Fenced zone of, say his car manufacturer sponsor, they receive a video message from their idol. It might say ‘Hi, thanks for downloading my app. The showroom you are passing there has agreed that if you test drive a car today they will donate $25 to my Lymphoma Foundation.’ They get a follow-up video message saying ‘Thank you.’ Of course this is immensely powerful.”

Another example Nair gives of how charities could use Geo-Fencing is at an outdoor fundraising event like a city fun run or a fete. “You could set up a Geo-Fence around the entire event venue and program messages to be sent through any time someone enters the Geo-Fenced zone,” he points out.

In spite of the newness of the concept to the sector, Nair says Mail Makers integrated is currently seeing a lot of excitement from charities about the possibilities this technology offers and already has commitments in place from some charities to take up a subscription to App-Makers in 2015.

Watch a video about App-Makers here:


Liz Henderson is editor of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine.

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