You’re a Mean One, Mr Jobs: Apple Snubs Charitable Direct Donation Apps

by Matt Klassen on December 13, 2010

You’re a mean one, Mr. Jobs. You really are a heel. You’re as cuddly as a cactus. You’re as charming as an eel. Mr. Jobs. While these slightly altered words of the beloved Dr. Seuss, originally written almost 45 years ago, may be overstating the point, there are many this Holiday Season that truly think that Steve Jobs’ heart is a dead tomato splotched with mouldy purple spots, as Apple has taken steps to block charitable giving this Christmas.

You see, while many depend on increased consumer spending to push their borderline economic outlooks into the black, it’s also a key time of year for non-profit and charitable organizations around the world, as increased giving at the holidays generally brings with it a significant spike in donations.

So what does Apple have to do with charitable donations? Well, it turns out that part of Apple’s restrictive developer agreement bans direct donations from its AppStore, meaning that NPOs and charitable organizations cannot create one-click donation apps by which users can click to donate small amounts of money.

The simple fact is, the more steps you place between the donor and the donation, the less likely you are to actually receive that donation, and Apple certainly isn’t doing the charitable community any favours.

As we draw ever closer to Christmas Day, one can’t help but remember that there are others out there, all around us in fact, who don’t have it as good; those who struggle to put food on the table and who depend on charities and NPO’s to get by. It is these people, Beth Kanter, chief executive of Zoetica, a consulting firm for non-profits; fears will get hurt by Apple’s restrictive policy. Therefore, Ms. Kanter has taken matters into her own hands by creating an online petition (click here to sign) titled You Are A Mean One, Mr. Jobs, to try and change Apple’s direct donation ban.

Currently, Apple does not allow direct donation apps, meaning that it won’t allow developers to insert a quick and effective “donate” button that would presumably charge the user through his or her iTunes account or a preapproved credit card for the donation. Instead, charitable organizations are being told that they are allowed to provide links to their websites where people can then donate.

In this digital age, however, the strategy behind generating donations is rapidly changing, as less and less people seemingly have the time to officially register as a donor, wanting instead a quick and easy way of helping those in need. The reality is, “the more clicks you put between your donor and their donation to you, the less likely you are to get a donation,” Jamie Kratz-Gullickson, executive director of the non-profit People Against a Violent Environment said in a recent interview.

Further, even in this difficult economic climate people are wanting to give, but with the average donation often a little over $10, people want a quick and easy way to give what they can, but the unfortunate reality, Kanter notes, is that the current donation process is “cumbersome and it doesn’t have to be,” meaning that many of these crucial smaller donations will never be received.

While Apple has remained relatively silent on the issue, there is speculation that the reason behind Apple’s refusal to be part of the charitable donation business is simply that Apple doesn’t want the headache of confirming authentic charitable organizations or the pain of having to manage and distribute funds. But here’s the thing: Apple already has the technology in place to do that as earlier this year Apple directly solicited donations for relief work in Haiti.

In the end, the question becomes, if the technology is in place to help these charitable organizations receive donations to help those in needs this Holiday season, why would Apple continue to refuse to participate? So, from the many people most affected by this direct donation ban this year, those who most likely think your soul, Mr. Jobs, is full of gunk, The three words that best describe you, are as follows, and I quote:



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