This research will investigate the challenges associated with the rising number of requirements set by Not For Profit (NFP) associations. The researchers will compare a number of mobile app issues that are increasingly difficult for the NFP sector meet. These include the demands of stakeholders, associations, and individuals who seek to make a big impact in competing with commercial programs with larger budgetary, time, and systems resources.
Analyse the technical issues surrounding mobile apps and their integration with low-level web presences, as well as the difficulties in meeting the demands of multiple ( and sometimes conflicting) stakeholder requests.
The research will also use case study material to validate a number of theories that face NFP mobile apps.
According to Lewis (2014) need for the use of mobile and apps is increasing in all types of organizations. However the scope of activities in not for profit (NFP) organizations are increasing. As a result, these organizations are tending to use latest applications of ICT for conducting their activities more efficiently (Hansson and Bannister, 2015).However, the use of mobile application in NFP organizations is quite different from use of these applications in other organizations. As organization activities in a NFP organization is completely different from well –known business activities, approaches for ICT use also differ greatly (Murugesan, 2013). It indicates that the nature of mobile apps which are going to be used in NFPs require being different from other commercial apps.
Although the need of using ICT is increasing in NFP organizations, difficulties for implementing such technologies are also increasing (Horton and Roche, 2010). Rapple, (2011) opines that NFP organizations often lack sufficient fund for using ICT extensively. Vaccaro and Madsen (2009) suggests that lack of fund is not the only problems for using ICT in NFP organization, there are other factors which impacts negatively on use of ICT. However, analysis of the current trend indicates the difficulties for developing suitable app is also increasing as development of advanced app requires sufficient funding.
As the purpose of using apps is different, development of suitable apps for not- for-profit organizations is being more difficult. The current proposal deals with discussion on difficulties faced in app development process for NFP. The trend of mobile and app use in NFP organizations s also analyzed in the assignment for identifying the features required by an app for being used in NFPs.
Although NFPs are focusing preferring to utilize mobile applications , there are several factors which are restricting these organization from making changes effectively. Zorn et al. (2010) stated that identification of the factors which are limiting use of mobile apps is effective to understand the new demands of NFPs. However, identification of the barriers for using mobile app in NFP is also helpful to predict the technological issues which can arise while developing applications for such companies. Implementation of ICT in large organizations requires investment of huge capitals (Hansson and Bannister, 2015). Often the NGOs and other NFPs fail to invest sufficient capital for improving their infrastructure. However, use of ICT may lead to generation of privacy and security related risks. However, the organizations also requite to train their staffs for effective implementation of ICT. In case of large NFPs, training all staffs within limited time is not possible. Often the NFPs develop contracts with other organizations. Contractual terms may also restrict a company from implementing new system. It indicates that the apps for NFPs require being user friendly, secured, interactive and compatible with all technologies.
Figure 1: Features of mobile apps in NFP organizations
(Source: Hockenberry, 2010, pp.78)
Privacy Issues: It is important to understand the purpose of developing an application for designing it effectively (Vaccaro and Madsen, 2009). As stated by Chen et al., (2013) NPFs require using ICT for conducting some core activities of their organizations. In case of NGOs which work for patients, sex workers, require to maintain secrecy about their stakeholders. On other hand, apps require to contain sufficient information so that these applications seem reliable to users. Developing highly secured app can solve this problem. As most of apps used in NGOs are interactive in nature, maintenance of security is difficult (Vaccaro and Madsen, 2009).It indicates that apps which will be used by such organizations require being highly secured so that the information processed using these apps remain secret.
Android vs. ios Issues: Often Large NFPs work in several countries. Availability of technology is not same for each country. Apps which will be used by these organizations require being compatible with all technologies. Apart from this, NFPs also require that these apps will be compatible with both android and ios platforms. Although it is important that the mobile apps used by not for profit organizations require being compatible with android and ios platform, apps using ios platform are found less effective. Most of the organizations use mobile apps for fundraising. In case of ios apps, direct donation cannot be made. However android OS (Operating system) does not put any such restriction on users. Thus the complexity of app development in ios platform increases.
Fund raising is one of the main tasks for NPFs. These organizations require using mobile apps and other applications for ICT for collection of funds. Hockenberry (2010) considers that mobile devices and smart mphone applications can be used for financial management also. Organizations focus more on funds (Bennett, 2014). It indicates that the apps which will be used for fundraising requires being user-friendly so that the users do not face any difficulties while donating for NFPs. Difficulty of developing such apps increases if the budget is kept low.
Balancing more than one client: Activities of NGOs are different even if they are working in same field (Wiklund Axelsson et al., 2013). Thus the nature of apps is different although all three apps are used for fundraising. It indicates that developing different types of apps at the same time can be difficult for developers.
Client expectations: Sometimes NFP clients require integrating their websites with apps. Often the NFPs use websites of poor quality. Technological issues also arise when module versions of these websites are made. Need of developing such advanced App within short time makes the process of designing difficult. The task of integrating a website with an app increases difficulty for making the app.
High level feature integrations and funding challenge: Analysis on the trend of using mobile devices and apps in not-for-profit organization reflects that the requirements of stakeholders are changing rapidly. Although the NFPs focus more on back office activities, these organizations require focusing more on service delivery process (Crump and Peter, 2015). The efficiency of service delivery process can be improved significantly through the use of mobile apps. According to Hoque and Parker (2014) NFP organizations require making their activities cost effective for increasing overall effectiveness of their activities. Horton and Roche (2010) opine that the NFPs require keeping consistency in their services to meet changed requirements of their stakeholders. Financial contribution of corporate bodies accounts for a significant portion of the funds raised by NGOs. However maintaining clarity in financial management is important for ensuring uninterrupted flow of fund from these organizations (Jackson, 2013). It indicates that the need of maintaining clarity in organizational activities can be considered as one of the major drivers for increasing use of mobile apps. On other hand, the government agencies are also influencing NFPs for maintaining transparency in management activities. This nature of Government agencies is also compelling NFPs to use mobile devices and other apps for executing their activities. On other hand, availability of such apps needs to be high to fulfill the purposes of developing it effectively. It indicates that the mobile apps require containing high level features. Often not-for-profit organizations fail to invest sufficient capital for developing mobile apps. It can cause technological issues while developing mobile apps for not-for-profit organizations in low budget.
Crash issues: Success of fundraising programs depends on the effectiveness of promotional activities. Several NFPs prefer to use mobile applications for conducting their promotional activities as use of these applications enables them to engage large number of volunteers with the program. Chen et al.(2013) states that use of different social networking mediums such as twitter also increased in not for profit organizations as use of thee platforms makes these promotional activities more effective. This trend of NFP management is also leading to increase in the use of mobile devices and smart phone apps. It indicates that apps which are used in NFPs for promotional activities require being interactive so that the clients of a NFP can communicate with the organization using these apps Reporting is one of the most important activities in NFPS. The area of operations in case of NFPs is wider that other companies, collaboration among different parts of a NFP can be hampered without proper reporting structure (Crump and Peter, 2015). However, the organizations are also using mobile apps for maintaining communication among their volunteers. In case of large NFP organizations the requirement for using ICT application for improving the activities related to governance. According to Hume et al. (2015) volunteer can be considered as the backbone of a not for profit organization. Adapting conventional approach for conducting organizational activities fails to attract volunteers and thus the task of retaining volunteers is becoming more difficult. Bennett (2014) considers that effective management of NFP is important for retaining volunteers. However Chen et al. (2013) opined that use of mobile applications can also be helpful for retaining volunteers in NFPs.As these apps require handling huge data, chances of crashes are high. Apps used by not-for-profit organizations require containing various features. It also can lead to increase in the number of mobile crash.
Google Play and ios restrictions: ios platform put restrictions on the length of keywords. However, android platform dose not put any such restrictions. Putting restrictions on keywords increase the difficulty for finding the apps. Both android and ios platform limit the number of characters used for describing an app. It also impacts on promotional activities of an app.
Ethical Issues: Some NGOs require providing only adult users with opportunity for accessing information. On other hand, mobile apps require being easily available to optimize its effectiveness. Contents of some apps may not be suitable for children. So it is also required to ensure these apps are being used by only authorized users. Need for implementing controlled access policy in easily available apps increases complexity for the development process (Zorn et al., 2010).
Working with NFP stakeholders: NFP stakeholders often lack time for conducting meetings with app developers. Due to lack of meetings app developers cannot get sufficient chances for discussing with clients regarding the app. On other hand, not-for-profit organizations require to develop app within less time. It also causes technological problems for app development.
Gamification Vs mainstream approaches: As the task of retaining volunteers and staffs in NFPs is becoming more difficult, these organizations prefer to use these apps which are developed using Gamification approach. According to Jackson (2013) use of Gamification approach in app designing attracts more users. On other hand Kang’ethe and Manomano (2014) opines that use of mainstream approaches for application designing makes the process easier and cost effective. Demand for using Gamification approaches while designing apps increases difficulty for the process.
Challenges for up keeping and refreshing mobile apps: As the mobile operating systems are updated regularly, apps require being updated regularly. In case of not-for-profit organizations, the number of tasks which are conducted using apps is increasing rapidly. Thus the need of refreshing apps regularly is also increasing. On other hand, NFPs lack funds for updating their apps. It makes the tasks of updating and refreshing apps more challenging.
Development of One Today by Google: Google One Today can be considered as one of the most well known apps which are developed using mainstream approch. One Today is used mainly for raising funds (Onetoday.google.com, 2015). Through this app the users can donate for any project. As the amount charged by this app as donation is affordable for every user, utilization of this app enables the NGOS to collect sufficient money as donations. This app uses android platform, so users dose not face difficulty for donating. Most of the NGOs face difficulties for increasing their reliability to donators. In Google One Today, the users can get all information on a project (Onetoday.google.com, 2015). Thus the reliability of organization increases to them and it leads to more effective fund raising. Apart from this, the users can pay easily through Google wallet. As this app provides the donators with chances for making a secured payment, use of this app enhances effectiveness of fundraising process. Analysis on the app developed by Google indicates that the organization successfully fulfilled the requirements of developing user friendly and interactive app. However, the policy of controlled access is not implemented here.
Development of UNICEF Tap project: UNICEF Tap Project app can be considered as another innovative app. It uses gamification approach for engaging users with the fundraising process through an interactive medium. This app tracks the interval when a mobile is not touched by user. If a user does not use mobile for 15 minutes, UNICEF can donate for providing a child with clean water for a day (Tap.unicefusa.org, 2015). However this app also does not contain any policy for controlling access.
Development of AskU: AskU is another app which also does not collect money directly from users but it engages tem indirectly with the fundraising process. PwC and Australian charities fund jointly developed AskU and it is widely used by Australian NGOs (AskU, 2015). This app does not provide users with chances for creating any community.
Analysis on the app using trends of NFPs indicates that most of these organizations prefer to use open source or free apps. The trend also reflects that all these apps are used by several NGOs as a common platform for fundraising and interacting with people (Polzer Ngwato, 2012). Analysis also indicates that all these apps are effective for collecting donations and informing people about various activities undertaken by NGOs. However, technological issues arise when an NFP requires it own app (Rapple, 2011).
On other hand, most of the not-for-profit organizations lack adequate fund for investing on app development process. It also increases difficulty for designing new app. Developing an app in less time can reduce its effectiveness. Users can face difficulty to reduce the chances of crash. Even if the apps are developed organizations face difficulties to launch them in market due to policies of Google play and ios.
Although in this assignment the technological issues in app development for Not-for-profit organizations are discussed, solutions for eliminating these issues are not identified. Further study can be done for finding solutions of technological issues which are identified in this assignment.
AskU, (2015). The free way to support your favourite charity - AskU. [online] Available at: https://www.asku.com.au/how-it-works [Accessed 16 Mar. 2015].
Bennett, J. (2014). Meeting needs. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Chen, H., Chen, H., Fulton, C., Gleave, H., Theng, Y. and Wu, M. (2013). Use of mobile apps in information seeking: An international viewpoint. Proc. Am. Soc. Info. Sci. Tech., 50(1), pp.1-4.
Crump, B. and Peter, R. (2015). A Case for Non-Profit Organisations to engage in the use of Shared Computing Services. Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation, 17(1), p.18.
hansson, k. and bannister, f. (2015). the non-government and voluntary sector, ICT, and democracy. [online] Available at: https://www.ijpis.net/ojs/index.php/IJPIS/article/viewFile/142/pdf [Accessed 16 Mar. 2015].
Hockenberry, C. (2010). iPhone app development. Beijing: Pogue Press/O'Reilly.
Hoque, Z. and Parker, L. (2014). Performance Management in Nonprofit Organizations. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Horton, K. and Roche, C. (2010). Ethical questions and international NGOs. Dordrecht: Springer.
Hume, C., Pope, N. and Hume, M. (2015). Introductory knowledge management for not-for-profit organisations. [online] Available at: https://eprints.usq.edu.au/21892/1/Hume_Craig_Hume_IJOB_v17n2_PV.pdf [Accessed 16 Mar. 2015].
Jackson, W. (2013). Learn Android app development. Berkeley, Calif.: Apress.
Kangâ€™ethe, S. and Manomano, T. (2014). Exploring the Challenges Threatening the Survival of Ngos in Selected African Countries. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences.
Lewis, D. (2014). Non-Governmental Organizations, Management and Development. Non-Governmental Organizations, Manageme: Routledge.
Murugesan, S. (2013). Mobile Apps in Africa. IT Prof., 15(5), pp.8-11.
Onetoday.google.com, (2015). One Today. [online] Available at: https://onetoday.google.com/home/faq [Accessed 16 Mar. 2015].
Polzer Ngwato, T. (2012). Collecting Data on Migrants Through Service Provider NGOs: Towards Data Use and Advocacy. Journal of Refugee Studies, 26(1), pp.144-154.
Rapple, C. (2011). The mobile world: one non-profit publisher's journey. Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community, 24(0), pp.S57-S64.
Tap.unicefusa.org, (2015). UNICEF Tap Project. [online] Available at: https://tap.unicefusa.org/ [Accessed 16 Mar. 2015].
Vaccaro, A. and Madsen, P. (2009). ICT and an NGO: Difficulties in attempting to be extremely transparent. Ethics and Information Technology, 11(3), pp.221-231.
Wiklund Axelsson, S., Melander Wikman, A., NÃ¤slund, A. and Nyberg, L. (2013). Older peopleâ€™s health-related ICT-use in Sweden. Gerontechnology, 12(1).
Zorn, T., Flanagin, A. and Shoham, M. (2010). Institutional and Noninstitutional Influences on Information and Communication Technology Adoption and Use Among Nonprofit Organizations. Human Communication Research, 37(1), pp.1-33.
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