Since December, over 12,000 people have signed an online petition to urge Steve Jobs to change Apple’s unfriendly iPhone donation policy. Yesterday, Vincent Stehle, in his column in the Chronicle of Philanthropy took Apple to task for its poor corporate citizen record, compared to the generosity of its competitors like Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and others. On the other side of the Atlantic, Nick Hurd, Civil Society Minister in the UK, has announced that he will write Apple to encourage the company to be more positive.
These recent high profile voices are the latest to join a chorus of dissatisfaction with Apple’s iPhone donation policy. Since early December, the issue has been covered on over 60 nonprofit and philanthropy blogs, technology blogs and press, and news publications, including The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nonprofit Quarterly, Cause Marketing Forum, and Foundation Center. The outcry was not limited to the social sector industry in US and UK, complaints came in from Australia and Canada.
Apple has said that it does not permit charitable donations to be made through its iPhone applications because it has no way to vet nonprofits. There are respected nonprofits that do this, including Mission Fish, Network for Good, and TechSoup. On top of that, Bob Ottenhoff, president of GuideStar, the organization that vets nonprofits, has gone so far as to offer his organization’s services to Apple.
While Apple may not be paying attention, its competitors are. Both Google and Microsoft sent me the last versions of their phones to replace the iPhone I ditched in protest.
I wonder if Steve Jobs will respond to the UK Civil Society Minister, Nick Hurd, about why his company won’t let nonprofits easily collect cash through their iPhone apps? As the TechEye blog pointed out, the response might look something like this:
“Because I said so.
From my iPad
To date, there has been no official response from Apple.
Vincent Stehle’s column in the Chronicle of Philanthropy raises a good question: What responsibility does a major technology company like Apple have to the nonprofit world?
Apple’s fans say that its contribution to society is to provide tools that spark creative genius and serve as a powerful innovator. But, as Vince points out, other technology companies have found ways to promote innovation and help nonprofits.
Ten years ago, Microsoft and America Online came together to support the creation of the Nonprofit Technology Network. Recently, Google has announced a grant of $1.1-million, designed to support the NTEN’s programs over the next two years. And in-kind technology donations from Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft, and Symantec are just a few of the 44 companies that have together donated more than $2.1-billion worth of products through TechSoup Global.
As more nonprofits look to the promise and potential of mobile contributions and the iPhone becomes available on Verizon, the donation policy will become more pressing. Meanwhile, I’ll have some reports about the Google Phone/Nexus S with Android operating system and the Windows 7 phone – and explore the best practices for mobile strategies.