15 January 2011

Apple under fire – Pressure to lift road-block against revolutionary development for charities


Partner And Chairman

Tel: 02 9233 9034

Mob : 0431 701 077


Estate Planning, Trusts, Probate and

Estate Litigation


Dispute Resolution




Software giant Apple has come under fire for imposing restrictions on applications – or ‘apps’as they are otherwise known – that contain a function to allow charitable donations.

Apple has refused to allow in-app charitable donations to be made on its iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad insisting that donations be collected by a charity’s website.

In what was seen as a revolutionary development for charities in August 2010, Apple gave payment processing company PayPal permission to produce an app that allowed direct charitable giving.  PayPal joined forces with MissionFish, the UK partner charity of eBay which helps charities and Not-For-Profit organisations raise money through online donations.  PayPal’s new app allowed direct charitable contributions to be made within it.  Users were able to quickly and easily donate to any of the 23,000 charitable organisations in the MissionFish database through the click of a button.

In October 2010 Apple unexpectedly pulled the plug on any apps that process charitable donations, thereby putting an end to the landmark move which was deemed to be an important step towards letting other charities take donations through Apple’s payment system.  This in-app donation functionality raised more than $10,000 at an average donation of $12 within the few months that it was in operation.  Now users cannot make donations within any apps.  Instead, apps direct potential donors to the website of the charity via Safari where they must go through an often burdensome process involving numerous steps and data-entry before they can donate.

Apple has found itself under mounting pressure from charities, Not-For-Profits and the public media to lift its ban on apps with charitable donation functionality.  One petition against the ban has reached 16,000 signatures. Internet company eBay is pressuring Apple to adopt its ‘Give at Checkout’feature, allowing users of apps to donate to charity when they pay for items.  Such a hassle-free process undoubtedly has enormous potential for charities and Not-For-Profits.

It is argued that Apple is failing to be a good corporate citizen by refusing such a function and by not using its power to champion the use of innovative technology solutions to assist charities and Not-For-Profits.

Apple Inc. is one of the largest companies in the world and the most valuable technology company in the world.  As of September 2010 Apple had worldwide annual sales of $65.23 billion.  Its design and development of the iPhone and iPad is considered revolutionary.  The surge in users of Apple technology sees these devices becoming for many people an important part of how they live, including how they connect with causes they support.  Similarly, charities and not-for-profit organisations depend on making it as simple as possible for their supporters to give.  Charities would agree that the more clicks a donor has to make, the less likely you are to get a donation.

Charities today are seeking new and user-friendly avenues to enable people to contribute money.  The creation of a quick and easy one-click “donate” button would charge app users from their existing Apple accounts.  This would allow charities to create their own apps that allow users to donate speedily and with ease.

We ask why Apple has decided to ban in-app charitable donations?  Why is it refusing to be a leader in this field?  While Apple has not made its reasoning clear, its decision could be based on a number of factors, including:

  • It may not wish to forgo taking the percentage of each donation that it usually takes from all transactions that go through the App Store.
  • It may not want to be responsible for managing and distributing funds to charities.
  • It may not want to deal with donation apps created by charities that are not bona fide.

However, Apple is already managing and distributing funds for developers who create apps for its App Store and in the past has assisted individual charities to raise money for those affected by environmental disasters.  It would appear that Apple does have the mechanisms available to deal with direct donations but is refusing to allow quick donation functionality which could make it easier for charities to receive donations.

Ultimately, we hope that Apple succumbs to the pressure upon it and steps up to facilitate what could be the most monumental development for charities of this generation – changing the way people donate to charities and Not-For-Profits.


Latest Firm Published Insights