Nonprofits irritated over Apple’s ‘ban’ on making donations via iPhone apps

ZAGG Deal!“The nonprofit world is stewing over the ban Apple has put on making donations on the iPhone via charity apps,” Stephanie Strom reports for The New York Times.

MacDailyNews Take: Blah, blah, blah… Before we get too “irritated,” let’s just skip down to wherever the lede is buried and find out what’s really going on. Um, okay, here:

Strom reports, “Others acknowledge that allowing donations through apps might present challenges. ‘One of Apple’s major objections has been that if donations were to go through its payment mechanism, it would have to be in the business of managing and distributing funds and verifying charities as well,’ said Jake Shapiro, executive director of Public Radio Exchange, or PRX, an online nonprofit marketplace for licensing and distributing public radio programming.”

Full article, with paragraphs of cloying whining, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, Apple is right to decline to manage, verify, and distribute funds for charities. Sheesh, some people will find something to whine about no matter what.


  1. I am in charge of a registered charity (501c3) and understand Apple’s position completely. The non-profits will find another way, say through paypal or their own online giving sources.

  2. I agree with Apple. It poses liability to the company for a range of things starting with an implied duty to make sure the charities are legitimate. That alone can be a daunting task — I’ve been through it with the refinance of an office building owned and occupied by a middle eastern charitable organization. It was a legit 501(c3), but there were issues related to funding terrorist activities under the PATRIOT Act. Bottom line was that we might be 99% certain that the deal was completely above board and no different from any other financing. But the risk to the investor funding the loan was far too great to take any of the legal risk.

    Allowing donations would provide a super-easy way to put up a front and swindle donors $1.99 at a time, or automate the laundering of massive amounts of money.

  3. Let’s see…the iPhone and iPad have web browsers. If I want to contribute to a charity I’ll use their website. That’s not so hard. Why would I want an app for that?

  4. Two words: Islamic charity. If you were Apple, would you want to get in the middle of funneling funds that could be used for terrorism? Something tells me that certain government agencies, not to mention legal counsel, might have some thoughts on that matter…

  5. An app provides a service or product for free or for a fee. Charity means asking for money with nothing for the payee.

    Ethically, Apple would be in limbo – should it charge the 30% if money is paid not to buy anything? Technically, I can see 500 million donation apps flooding Apple’s system by next week if scammers think they can get away with it. No thanks.

  6. chabig is right. If a charity has the resources to create an iPhone app, surely they can create a mobile-optimized web-site.

    “The nonprofit world is “stewing”


    Did my grandma write this copy?


  7. Apple is doing a business verification when enrolling iOS developers – it is a big effort already. I imagine it would not be much harder if at the same time they did a non-profit status verification. That way an app from non-profit org could be treated differently if Apple chose to do so – say: less than 30% cut of the app price?
    Our school has a non-profit status and we developed a couple of apps (see ) to raise additional funds. Wouldn’t it be nice if our favorite company supported non-profits and not treated them as ordinary businesses?

  8. WHY would you use an app to begin with? Isn’t donating a once a year thing at most? Who’d want to have an app just to donate? Or do their apps do other things? If they do, then submit that app, and link out to the web for donations. What’s their problem?

  9. I’ve help start a non-profit and currently serve on the board and finance committees of several. The new Form 990 has tripped up a lot of legitimate non-profits and has caused them to lose their status, even briefly. It’s hard enough monitoring the legitimate organizations, let alone trying to sift through the illegitimate ones. And as others have pointed out, it’s easier and just as effective to develop a mobile optimized web site than a native app.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.