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Nonprofit and Library App Survey from App It Up

Nonprofit and Library App Survey from App It Up

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Back in September, we posted a summary of App It Up's nonprofit and library apps survey. We had some requests for more detailed survey results, so here they are!

A Few Caveats

Keep in mind, this was not a very scientific survey. The sample size is small (less than 250), and we didn't try to survey a representative sample of organizations. Therefore the results may not accurately represent the full range of nonprofit and library app experiences.

Survey respondents were also self-selecting, meaning someone with absolutely no interest in apps probably wouldn't take the time to respond to an app survey. This means the numbers may overstate the level of interest in apps. Finally, the results below combine responses from different surveys that had slight differences in wording and question setup.

What We Found in the Numbers

We made an effort to include both nonprofits and libraries by promoting the surveys in the TechSoup forums, via NetSquared and TechSoup for Libraries, and through social media. The surveys ran in late August and early September, 2011. There were a total of 229 survey responses.

According to our survey results:

  • Organizations are using apps: 69% of respondents reported they are currently using apps in their library or nonprofit.
  • Apps can serve a variety of purposes: 56% use apps to do their daily work, 46% use apps to engage patrons, and 18% use apps to provide services (multiple choice was allowed).
  • Nonprofits and libraries are interested in apps: only 17% of respondents who are not using apps said it was due to lack of interest at their organization.
  • Lack of resources is the main barrier: among those not using apps, a lack of resources to support apps was cited as a barrier to app adoption by 55% of respondents.
  • App fit is another barrier: 24% of respondents who aren't using apps said it was because there isn't an app that meets their needs.

What We Found in the Comments

We asked organizations to share the apps they are currently using, as well as their wishlist apps in the comments, and here's a sampling of what they had to say:

  • The apps organizations are using are a lot of the big-name apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Apps. This lines up fairly well with recent studies that show most app users rely on a few core apps, regardless of how many apps are available.
  • Nonprofits and libraries are interested in building their own apps, though they may not have the resources to do so. They were also interested in developing mobile-friendly versions of their websites (vs. standalone mobile apps).
  • Some organizations are already building their own apps. For example, North Texas Library Partners mentioned that they created Information Assistant, an Android app that promotes information literacy. And the Green Action Centre is working on an app to help with data-gathering for a school travel planning initiative.
  • There was some interest in using apps to improve processes and workflows within an organization, but most of the wishlist apps were externally facing: apps that would help people access nonprofits' and libraries' information and resources, or better engage supporters, volunteers, donors, and other members of the public.
  • Libraries really want a good catalog and library services app. A majority of library wishlist apps related to improving patron access to library services, including catalog search and patron account management.

What We Thought

Based on our (unscientific) survey, it looks like nonprofits and libraries are already using apps. And if they had more resources to support apps, they would be using (and creating) them even more. And since almost a quarter of respondents said there weren’t apps that met their organization’s needs, perhaps there is a real need for and interest in developing new apps for nonprofits and libraries.

What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.

Picture: Doug Belshaw

by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Director, Content, TechSoup

  • I look forward to learning more in the App it Up webinar on January 19.

  • Interesting article! It's great to hear that nonprofits and libraries are embracing apps. I can understand that organisations don't have the resources to develop apps themselves, it can be a really expensive process! I'd be interested to hear specifics on what people need. Reading the original article I was wondering what it is that is missing. For example there are loads of task timer apps out there already, so what is it that is needed? Also, for events there is for example eventbrite, but perhaps that doesn't quite cut it? Any suggestions greatly appreciated as I'd quite like to get into app development myself.

    All the best,

    Andrew Edwards

    Websites for NGOs, charities and ethical companies

  • Andrew, you might want to head over to the TechSoup community forum, particularly the section marked "Software" or "Emerging Technologies", and start a conversation on this topic!

  • Thanks! I will do.