There's a lot that an app can do for you. But getting started can be overwhelming. What apps are already out there? How would apps benefit your nonprofit or library? Does it make sense to build your own app?
The resources below will help you get started answering these questions.
Apps for Nonprofits and Libraries
Thanks to a grant from Microsoft, TechSoup's App It Up project investigated the kinds of apps nonprofits and libraries are using to engage their constituents, tell their stories, and get their work done. See our nonprofit and library app survey results and the nonprofit and library Apps Wish List to see how other nonprofits and libraries are thinking about apps.
For more nonprofit- and library-specific apps, also see:
- Open-Source Mobile Apps for Social Change from the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference
- For libraries, see ACRL's mobile applications for learning, the Top 30 iPhone apps for libraries, and the YALSA blog for youth-oriented apps
The App It Up project also rounded up cool apps for nonprofits and libraries in various categories, including:
- Disaster and Emergency Response
- Green Apps
- Arts Organization Apps
- Office Apps for Smartphones
- Library Apps
Apps for Every Organization
These app guides aren't specifically designed for nonprofits or libraries, but they're definitely worth looking into:
- Gizmodo and Wired's guide to 400 essential apps for Windows Mobile, Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices.
- PC World's list of the 49 best cross-platform apps.
- Still can't get enough apps? Find many more apps using Appbrain (Android apps) or Appolicious (Android and Apple).
- Overwhelmed? Maybe ReadWriteWeb's list of Apps to Help You Deal with Too Many Apps is right for you.
App Development Resources
Even with the enormous number of apps available, there may not be an app that meets your organization's needs. In that case, you may be considering developing your own.
If you're considering developing a mobile app, your app strategy should be firmly grounded in your organization's overall mobile strategy. Mobile strategy is far too big a topic to cover in detail here, but these are some resources to get you started:
- Learn mobile basics and tips for leveraging mobile technology in TechSoup's Mobile 101 series
- Socialbrite on why your nonprofit should have a mobile strategy
- NTEN offers four strategies for going mobile
If you do decide to develop an app for your organization, here are some helpful mobile app development resources:
- One major decision point is what kind of app you want to develop. Learn about the advantages (and disadvantages) of native apps and mobile apps from EDUCAUSE and TechRepublic. TheNextWeb offers a more provocative take on the same topic.
- These tips from Mashable and InformationWeek are geared towards small businesses, but many of them can easily apply to other organizations. For a more nonprofit-focused approach, learn what mistakes to avoid when creating a mobile app.
- The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has a nicely curated apps list which includes a section on creating mobile websites, library catalogs, and apps.
More App Resources
- Learn Why Apps are Green
- Fostering Youth Innovation and Creativity Through App Development
- Tips to Create an App-for-Good Event
- The Good (and Bad) of Mobile Security
Picture: Jim Trottier