How to Create a Successful Social Good App

September 16, 2016

4:45 pm

This article was brought to you in partnership with Mobile Future, whose expertise in wireless innovations is helping to inform and connect tech innovators, mobile entrepreneurs, and policymakers. Submit your mobile app by October 5 at 6 PM (ET) for a chance at $10,000 at The Mobileys.

If you do a Google search for “social good” right now, you’ll find more than 125 million results. Now, if you do a Google search for “social good apps”, you’ll get more than 25 million results – a significant number, really, when you compare the much more extensive history of social good as a concept to that of mobile apps as available digital tools. And the results for “social good apps” can only be expected to increase as more organizations find the need to adapt to an increasingly mobile society.

“We conducted a survey several months ago, and over 80 percent of respondents were interested in using a mobile app that lets them raise money for charity,” says Alex Groth, cofounder and CEO of Gladly, the company behind charitable apps Tab for a Cause and Goodblock. According to him and cofounder Kevin Jennison, having a mobile app for your social good initiative has gotten increasingly important – especially at time when the number of mobile-only Internet users have exceeded those on desktop. “Having a social good app lets you raise awareness of your cause, uniting those whom share the same passion, and reaching those who might otherwise not have been involved.”

No Idea Is Too Small for a Social Good App

From apps that support the care of cancer patients to apps that allow people to support their local animal shelter, any idea can be turned into a social good app. “As we usher in this mobile revolution that is transforming our daily lives, no idea is too small and no challenge too great,” writes SPROKIT cofounder and COO Jeff Fino. “I encourage every mobile innovator out there to grab the reins and go for it…particularly for those of us embracing mobile to help connect the marginalized in society to greater opportunity.”

In 2015, SPROKIT – an app that provides probationers and parolees with information on what’s expected of them (such as mandatory events to help them complete their prison sentences) – won second place in The Mobileys, Mobile Future’s annual competition that recognizes innovative apps, services or products that are using mobile for social good. “What it means to us [to be a Mobileys winner] is that it lines our organization in credibility, authority, and that’s especially important as we look for funders to support the app’s future improvements,” says Christine Bork, the chief development and communications officer at CureSearch CancerCare, which came out on top at last year’s Mobileys.

User Experience Is Key

But while social good apps like SPROKIT and CureSearch CancerCare have been successful, that’s not always the case. Much like every mobile app right now, you have to make sure that the app you’re building is user-friendly. Daylight Design, a social innovation and design consultancy that has partnered with the likes of UNICEF, cautions the importance of user experience:

“Stay laser-focused on human needs,” says Daylight Design cofounder Sven Newman. “Behavior change is hard. People have a very low tolerance for the inconvenience of learning something new or doing something differently. That’s why user experience is so vital.” Adds cofounder and brother Brett, “It can be easy and efficient to design based on focus group feedback and online survey responses. But you can drive so much more impact when you can see how your app might actually fit into real people’s lives.”

Getting the Word Out Is the Key to Success for Social Good Apps

At the end of the day, though, the success of your social good app depends on how well you get the word out. That’s where organizations like Mobile Future and competitions like The Mobileys can truly help. Again, Bork:

“The staff at Mobile Future is wonderful about opening the doors to connections for us that will, I’m sure, undoubtedly lead to more people being aware of the app.”

And right now is the perfect time to get the word out on your social good app. There’s still time for you to submit your app to this year’s Mobileys. Just head over The Mobileys site and apply before the competition close on October 5 at 6 PM (ET). You can find out more about the competition here.

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Ronald Barba is the managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". He also likes to cook things; you can check out all the noms on his Instagram. Email Ronald (ronald@tech.co) or tweet @RonaldPBarba. You can also subscribe to him on Facebook or find him on Google.

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