Must-have mobile apps for nonprofit professionals

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I was going to spare you yet another article about mobile technology that starts with a statistic, but I just couldn’t help myself...smartphone penetration in Canada will hit 55% by the end of the year!

Whether you’ve got a perennial red light flashing on your BlackBerry, a low battery indicator on your iPhone, or you are trying to unlock your droid with your face, chances are you’re carrying a smartphone device. Or, you will be soon!

One of the characteristics of a smartphone is the ability to run an operating system and installed applications (apps). You are likely loading up your device with obvious essentials like a favourite Twitter app, Skype, Gmail and Google docs, Old-ify and Angry Birds.

Great, so you can tweet, talk, email and make your friends look ugly. What else are you stuffing into your phone? Here are some suggestions for useful professional apps to get you started.

EVERNOTE

The little grey elephant has a big cult following! It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the popular tool for “remembering everything”, has a good free mobile app for their primary product. ... Cross-platform heaven for those of us that are often away from our computers or tablets! Use Evernote to clip articles, save images, links, pictures, record audio, and make notes you can access on the web or through your phone.

This product is addictive, so if you find yourself constantly “clipping”, please don’t blame me.

Grab it: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry.

LINKEDIN

Surprised to see it on the list? If you’ve “been there and done that” with LinkedIn, come back to the networking mothership! Their recently upgraded mobile apps are not just prettier, they’re more useful too. If you’ve ever been at an event and are trying to make connections between donors or volunteers in your network, this app makes your research quick and easy. Review your connection requests, messages, and group posts with fewer headaches.

Grab it: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry.

SCANBIZCARDS

Most of your colleagues are probably not as particular as Patrick Bateman about business cards, but there’s no denying that no matter how digital we think we are, those little paper rectangles are not going away. There are a few scanning apps for business cards, but this one is simple and inexpensive. Get that stack of business cards off your desk and into your contact list.

You can also follow up with a LinkedIn request or integrate with Salesforce and Evernote. Give this app a try for free to see if you’ll get into the habit of scanning your cards. If you like it, upgrade to a paid version.

Grab it: iOS, Android, Windows Phone. Upgraded version is $6.99 – search your app stores for the ScanBizCards Lite to try it for free.

PICSHOP PHOTO EDITOR

Chances are, you are not the person at your organization’s events walking around with a digital SLR camera slung around your neck. Photography newbies need love too, so here’s a tool for you. Although this simple app comes with a free version (PicShop Lite), you might like it enough to pay for the full product. Crop, retouch, transform and edit your photos right on your mobile device before sharing or publishing them.

Now that you have a beautiful picture, what are you doing to do with it? You don’t need to head back to a laptop to upload your photos. Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr all have mobile apps designed to make image-sharing truly real time. Work this into your event management strategy!

Tell staff, volunteers and event attendees to share immediately on your preferred networks and remind them how to tag their pictures. You don’t need another CD-ROM of photos collecting dust on your desk, am I right?

Grab it: iOS, Android. Upgraded version is  $4.99 – Search your app stores for PicShop Lite to try the free version.

HOOTSUITE

Sure, there are plenty of other “dashboard” providers for social media management, but the Canadian company with the friendly owls has become a professional go-to for a reason. If you’re managing multiple accounts (for instance, your organization’s profile and your personal profile) this app is a good compliment to the browser version.

If you are tracking your message statistics, hashtags, keywords, or following “lists” offsite, Hootsuite will help you out. I also like the “Quiet Time” option which allows scheduled hours in which alerts and notifications are turned off.

Social media users are notoriously picky about their platforms, so test out management apps until you find the tool that makes you comfortable.

Grab it: iOS, Android, BlackBerry.

AMERICAN RED CROSS FIRST AID

Your office probably has a designated “safety captain” to make sure the first aid kit in the kitchen is stocked, but do you know the ratio of compressions to breaths for CPR/AR off-hand? The first aid app from the American Red Cross is probably the best app you hope you’ll never have to launch. With one touch you can get step-by-step instructions for emergency situations. The tips, videos and guides are pre-loaded inside the application so you won’t need an internet connection to access the content.

If you can’t remember how to make a donut bandage, play around with this app and refresh all that ancient safety training!

Grab it: iOS, Android.

MOBILE CREDIT CARD PROCESSING OPTIONS

If you’ve been waiting for Square to make its way to Canada, there are other options to explore. The new breed of mobile payment tech allows your organization to turn a smartphone or tablet into an on-site credit card reader.

This option can free you from carrying the large terminals at auctions, galas and other events. You can also choose to receipt purchases or tickets by email instead of waiting for that paper roll to print out.

Investigate it: PayPal Here, Intuit GoPayment.

TIMMYME

A little app with a really simple purpose, TimmyMe points out the closest Tim Hortons to your location. You might find it particularly useful if those tricky maps in iOS6 are leading you astray.

Now that you know how to get to the closest coffee shop, please note my order is a medium double-double...

Grab it: iOS, Android, Blackberry

If your organization is like most in the sector, you are probably experimenting with mobile strategies, websites and apps to reach out to your supporters, volunteers and donors. Don’t consider investing in an app for your charity or latest campaign until you yourself are comfortable using mobile tools every day. Suddenly you’ll be one of those “mobile users” you hear so much about in the smartphone penetration statistics!

Want to learn more about mobile technology for the nonprofit sector?

Charity Village is a sponsor of the ArtezInterAction Conference, October 18th! This is your opportunity to learn from speakers like Facebook, Huffington Post, Blue State Digital, Google and more.

Use the hashtag #artezTO during the conference to connect with attendees. Tweet your toughest questions and I’ll do my best to find you in person and deliver great answers. Register today on the website: ArtezInterAction 2012.

Claire Kerr is the director of digital philanthropy at Artez Interactive. A nonprofit veteran, Claire has worked for charitable organizations in the economic development, education, and fundraising sectors. Connect with her on Twitter or on LinkedIn, or in person over a double-double at Tim Hortons.

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