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App It Up: Survey Results Roundup

App It Up: Survey Results Roundup

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We asked, and you answered. The survey results are in for the App It Up project. Thanks to everyone who participated in our surveys and follow-up discussions, we've learned a lot about how nonprofits and libraries are using apps.

Apps Organizations Are Using

Libraries and nonprofits are already using apps, mostly to engage patrons or constituents and to perform their daily work. Libraries in particular are also using apps to help patrons use their services.

A lot of the apps organizations are using weren't surprising: TweetDeck, HootSuite, TwitPic, Facebook, Picasa, PayPal, LinkedIn, Google Apps, and (for libraries) Worldcat tools and Library Anywhere. File sharing tools like Dropbox and YouSendIt were also popular.

A few apps that were new to me were the nifty note-taking app EverNote, and the online identity management app SignMeOut. If you access your Facebook or Gmail accounts from multiple devices, SignMeOut lets you close all the open sessions, regardless of which device your accounts are opened on.

Some organizations have even created their own apps. TechSoup member organization Humane Society of Whitley County developed their own app, which shows adoptable animals, shelter and adoption info, news, upcoming events, and links for providing donations. You can check out their free app in the iTunes app store.

Resources and App Fit Are the Main Barriers

As you might expect, a lack of resources was the main stumbling block preventing wider adoption of apps. Many respondents also noted that there was not an app out there that met their organization's needs.

App Wishlist

We know there isn't always "an app for that," something that really meets an organization's needs. So we also asked what applications nonprofits and libraries wished they could have. Below are some of the main things on nonprofit and library wish lists.

  • Discovery tools to help people find an organization's locations, programs, resources, and news. One of the great things about being at TechSoup is the diversity of organizations we hear from: libraries, animal welfare organizations, addiction recovery organizations, and many others all had a similar need in this area.
  • Outreach tools to help find constituents, recruit volunteers, and reach out to potential donors.
  • Improve communication between different sectors of the organization.
  • Event or conference scheduling: an app to manage event and session dates, resources, sign-ups, and attendee profiles.  
  • Track volunteer hours: volunteer time and task management, and reporting tools.
  • Nonprofit search: a search engine plug-in geared towards finding nonprofit-related information.
  • Reminders: For example, "An app that would give a gentle but persistent zap to our creative team to get them to tweet, blog, post more regularly." As a content development team member, this was my personal favorite.
  • Library Apps were mostly about better access to library holdings and services: access to the library catalog, an app that integrates library holdings with online searches, a better cross-library search tool, and an app that integrates all the different online library services into a single interface and look-and-feel. Another interesting suggestion was an app that would allow patrons to create and share topical resources lists (like favorite novels), linked to the library catalog.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the surveys and shared their comments and experiences. We're looking forward to our upcoming App It Up hackathon, where we're hoping to make at least a couple of these wishes come true.

In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on these findings or tell us what's on your app wishlist in the comments below.

Photo: Ryan Lane

by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Director, Content, TechSoup