According to Nielson, as of March 2012 smart-phones are now in use by 50.4% of American consumers. When this statistic came out, Android dominated the market at 48.5% of all smart-phone purchases while the iPhone was in a close second at 32%. With these statistics in place, Nonprofits (NPO’s) have taken notice and have begun increasing their mobile presence through creative and unique applications. Interestingly enough, even with the aforementioned statistics, the majority of these applications have been designed for the Apple iPhone OS platform before being released for the Android OS platform, if released for the Android OS platform at all. Below is a list of 10 of the top 30 NPO’s as ranked by The Non Profit Times that have taken the plunge into mobile:

1. YMCA — YMCA Finder

The Y was ranked by The Non Profit Times as the #1 non-profit organization of 2012 with close to 20 million members and $6 billion yearly revenue. They are known for promoting through their 550,000 volunteers a healthier lifestyle choice. In order to assist their members in their path towards a healthier live, they have developed a mobile application focused upon their core competencies. Users can find where their local YMCA is, add locations as contacts, and get directions and details on the location a visitor is interested in. The Y is planning developing future versions to provide exercise tips, dietary instructions, and even job listings.

2. United Way (of Central Iowa): Volunteer Mobile App

United Way, ranked 4th by The Non Profit Times, is a support organization that is concentrated on assisting the common good and well being of all through education, financial stability, and healthy lifestyle administration and support systems.  With their focus applying to all those in need of help, United Way of Central Iowa decided to develop a mobile application that brings their target audience and volunteers together. The application allows volunteers to view new potential opportunities to help out and give immediate feedback about any inquires they may have. In addition, you can share the posts with your social network to spread the word to all other volunteers in the area. Lastly, the application allows you to view the opportunities by title and to save your favorites so you can keep track of when events are coming up.

3. American Red Cross: Disaster Response Apps

Started here in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton on May 21st, 1881 the American Red Cross has been a leading humanitarian organization that now provides over 40% of blood and blood related products across the nation.  Ranked at #5 by The Non Profit Times, the American Red Cross specializes in disaster recovery, support for families of the armed forces, blood collection, distribution, and processing, health and safety training, and education, and lastly international relief and development. Being specialized in all of these different areas has led this non profit to provide a number of different mobile applications for their users to become more aware and better prepared for all of their safety needs.  Recently, as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Irene, and Katrina, the Red Cross has released a hurricane application with a number of different options to help individuals and families to weather the storm.


  • One touch “I’m safe” messaging allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media
  • Location-based NOAA weather alerts users can share on social networks
  • Personalized weather alerts where family and friends reside
  • Locations of American Red Cross shelters
  • Create a family emergency plan
  • Instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm
  • Gamification makes the app interactive through quizzes and badges they can share on social networks

4. Salvation Army: Bellringer

The extensive history of The Salvation army still lives on through this age old organization that can be most noticeably recognized around the holiday season. Bellringers on street corners now have a new tool besides a red kettle pot and a bell to gain the attention of donors. Recently, The Salvation Army released a “Bellringer application” that allows users to ring a bell in support of the bellringers cause around the holiday season. In addition, Sprint has donated a number of Android telephones and mobile credit card readers so that individuals passing by can donate even when they don’t have a dollar to toss in the red kettle. This fun and noisy little application turns anyone into an instant volunteer and is an attempt to gain the attention of the younger generation that may not be as educated to the cause of the Salvation Army to begin with.

5. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 as a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing ministry that focuses on building and repair homes for those without adequate shelter. Since their founding they have worked on over 500,000 homes and have impacted the lives of over 2 million people globally. In order to continue impacting the lives of the many, Habitat for Humanity has developed HabitAPP in attempt to promote more awareness. Users will have the ability to know more about the situations and projects that are going on in the area, sign up as a volunteer, and donate.

At the bottom of the application, users can choose to see news from the Habit for Humanity headquarters, upcoming events, exact event locations with directions, what is going on in social media, photos and videos from events, download donation or volunteer sign up forms, contact the HFHWC directly, or share their thoughts through a number of social media channels.

6. Smithsonian Institute: Mobile App

The Smithsonian Institute, named after James Smithson, was established on Aug. 10, 1846 as an establishment for the enlargement and distribution of knowledge for mankind. Since the Smithsonian’s establishment, they have continued to compile a vast amount of information and artifacts that they share with their audience through both a magazine and a number of different museums, each with its own unique focus and exhibits.

7. World Vision: Mobile App

World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, works primarily with families, children and people within their communities globally to fight poverty and inequality. To accomplish their goals, World Vision relies upon expert journalism and work from their staff and dedicated volunteers to share stories to open others eyes alongside beautiful photos and inspirational videos.

Through the World Vision Now iPhone app, users can:

  • Follow news and stories written by World Vision journalists
  • Receive alerts and updates on the latest and ongoing crises.
  • Read thought-provoking features by international relief, development, and advocacy experts
  • Hear from World Vision U.S. President and best-selling author, Rich Stearns
  • Follow commentary on current events
  • Identify where giving will impact the most
  • Discover advocacy opportunities
  • Subscribe to receive time-critical notifications.
  • View region-related stories through an interactive world map
  • Search stories
  • Share links, stories, and videos on Facebook and Twitter


8. The Nature Conservancy: Nature Near You

Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has strived to conserve the earth and waters as the world’s leader conservation organization. Through the combined efforts of over 550 scientists and many partners, they have found innovative ways to ensure our environment receives what it needs to remain healthy, and diverse. In order to keep individuals more educated and interested in the well being of the planet, The Nature Conservancy recently released Nature Near You, a mobile app incorporating photographs, social media, and interactive maps of the natural world surrounding the user. Nature Near You encourages users to take their own photos of the natural world and share their perspective with an online community, in addition to a number of other applications. Below are a number this free application allows users to do in order to communicate the visual stimulating natural elements around them to other users:

  • Built in camera that allows users to directly capture their own nature photography within the app
  • Social sharing feature with ability to upload to Twitter, Facebook, email or The Nature Conservancy’s Flickr page.
  •  Nature Photo of the Day
  •  Recent photos taken by others using the Nature Near You app
  •  Map view of photos taken using the Nature Near You app with ability to zoom in by location or region
  •  Nature preserve map to find preserves by location or region
  •  Donation page for online and text donations
  •  Mobile wallpaper download section
  •  Nature News section

9. American Cancer Society: More Birthdays App

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a voluntary community-based, nationwide health organization with a focus on eradicating cancer. For nearly over the past 100 years, ACS has gathered millions of supporters in more than 5,100 communities, 12 charted divisions, and over 900 local offices. With a strong force of dedicated individuals fighting to finding a cure, assisting those in need, and educating the masses more people are celebrating more birthdays.

Now the ACS has released the More Birthdays App to not only help you remember someone close to you on their special day, but to celebrate it with them. The application links your contacts from your Facebook account, and like a calendar the More Birthday’s App sets up alerts so that you always have a leg up on your friends and family and their upcoming birthdays.  From the application you can send customized birthday greetings, and can even create your own special birthday cake (which you can blow out the candles on top by blowing into the microphone!).

This application also gives you access to the ACS mobile site so that users can also learn and help everyone celebrate more birthdays with their loved ones.

10. The Boy Scouts of America: Boy Scout Handbook/Merit Badge app

As a very well known youth development organization, The Boy Scouts of America have built a foundation of leadership, citizenship, education, and physical fitness that has shaped young individual’s characters for nearly a century. By providing young people with the values and skills they would not otherwise gain through fun and thought provoking experiences, they have developed a basis for a full and responsible lifestyle.

The Boy Scout Handbook provides any Boy Scout with countless tips and advice on types of foliage to eat to how to set splints for broken bones, even where to look for clean drinking water. For the Boy Scout on the go, now there is a mobile application that is accessible even when the furthest cell tower is miles away. Through this application any Boy Scout will have the ability to locate the information they need to resolve any issue they encounter.

In addition to the Boy Scout Handbook going mobile, scouts will also be able to track their progress towards new merit badges through another mobile application. Through the home screen of the merit badge application a boy Scout will be able to see what badges they have collected and the requirements for their next one. The new badges can be shared via social media, and Scouting news is also uploaded to the user’s phone.

With this mobile combination, every scout has what they need to be all they can be and more.